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U.S. News Archive
September 07 - September 13, 2000





This page contains news for the period September 07, 2000 through September 13, 2000.


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Wednesday, September 13, 2000

House fails to override Clinton veto of 'marriage penalty' reform bill

A story published today by Reuters reports that House Republican leaders on Wednesday failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed to override President Clinton's veto of a bill that would have cut taxes for all married couples.

The House voting 270-158, fell 15 votes short of the two-thirds necessary to overturn the veto. The vote was the second time in a week Republicans who control Congress failed to overturn a Clinton tax cut veto. Last week the House was unable to override Clinton's veto of a bill eliminating estate taxes.

House Republican leaders said they will try to pass a marriage tax cut again next year when a new president will be in the White House.

"We intend to get this job done, if not by overriding the president's veto, then we will have to put it up on the floor next year and have a president that will sign it,'' said House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas.

Solo with son: it can be done successfully

A feature story published today in the Christian Science Monitor explains how single mothers face challenges in raising sons, but it points out that with a little help, boys do just fine.

Parenting experts says that it is not essential to live under one roof with relatives, but it is crucial for single parents to cultivate a broader community of support for both themselves and their children, whether it be among family, friends, schoolteachers, coaches, clergy, or best of all, some of each.

As the American family continues to move away from what was once "traditional," an increasing number of single-parent families are being formed.

According to recent Census figures, 26 percent of American families are headed by single parents. Of those, 85 percent are headed by mothers. And it's estimated that 50 percent of all children will experience a single-parent home at some point during childhood.

Situations such as death, divorce, and adoption without a mate often create families headed by one adult. Mothers with sons are often considered particularly vulnerable. One common concern is that without dad around, a boy won't learn how to become a man.

William Pollack, author of the "Real Boys" and "Real Boys' Voices" says there are many things a single mother can do to make up for a father's absence.

Reaching out to supportive extended family, as Capo has done, is certainly one of them. But he also says that society needs to better value the single mother.

"Single moms of boys in America get the worst rap imaginable," he says. "They are blamed for everything from hangnails to violence." In his books, Dr. Pollack comes to their defense. For this, single mothers often thank him.

"They appreciate that I say that loving, well-balanced, responsible mothers are capable of bringing up happy, healthy, masculine boys," he explains, adding that this is not just his theory, but it's supported by independent studies. "Women are not only very important role models for their sons, but they are often their son's heroes."

Moms may be their son's heroes, but a father's role is far from insignificant, explains Pollack. The father of a teenage daughter, this role is close to his heart. He is dismayed that many two-parent homes resemble single-parent homes because often dads just aren't around much. Every chance he gets, he urges fathers to become more actively involved in their children's lives.

"Fathers today are spending more time with their kids, but it's only up to 15 percent of their time from 10 percent in 1979," he explains. "Boys tell me all the time how much they love their dads, but that they aren't home enough."

After divorce, it's still essential to involve dad as much as possible - as long as the relationship is appropriate, say parenting experts.

When agreeable co-parenting isn't possible, and even when it is, male friends and relatives who are consistently active in the mother's and son's lives can have a tremendously positive influence.

The dating game is the most difficult aspect of single motherhood, says Melissa Fisher, the mother of a five-year-old. "When I am dating someone who I know would be good for my son, I am often fearful that if things don't work out, it would hurt him more than help him," she explains.

This is one reason family counselors recommend that single parents try not to introduce their children to everyone they date, but instead to wait until things start to get serious.

Tips to make life easier for a single mom raising a son

A sidebar to the story published in the Christian Science Monitor today entitled "Solo with Son" contained tips for single mothers who have one or more boys at home.  The column lists several suggestions which were gathered from interviews with educators, counselors, authors, and single parents:

* Try to cultivate friendships with men who will become positive male role models.

* Help your male friends understand their significance in your boy's life.

* Be aware that the men in a boy's life teach him by example how to treat a woman.

* Don't bad-mouth your ex-spouse to your children. It teaches them you don't mean what you say about being kind to others.

* Talk to your child about marriages they are familiar with: What do you think works? What doesn't? Why? What role do compromise and negotiation play? If they don't learn this by example at home, it helps to talk it through.

* The worst thing you should do when boys say "Leave me alone" is to do it. Let the umbilical cord loosen as they grow older, but never disconnect it.

* Parents need to realize that, despite divorce, they remain co-parents throughout a child's life.

* The more time sons spend with their dads, assuming it is positive and appropriate, the better.

* Connect with other single parents as much as possible.

* Let people help when they offer.

* Be sure you live in a community that is varied and accepting of you and your child.


Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Dutch approve gay marriages

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that the Netherlands enacted a bill converting the country's "registered same-sex partnerships'' into full-fledged marriages, complete with divorce guidelines and wider adoption rights for gays
and lesbians.

Proponents say the legislation will give Dutch gays rights beyond those offered in any other nation.

The story said that lawmakers thumped their desks in approval when the vote passed 107-33, and some of the scores of witnesses in the packed public gallery applauded and embraced.

Same-sex couples will be able to marry at city hall and adopt Dutch children. They will be able to divorce through the court system, like heterosexual couples.

Friday, September 8, 2000

Coalition of researchers will counter bad information about American families

A story released today by AScribe News reports that the The Council on Contemporary Families (CCF) is launching a major research initiative to develop a series of books aimed at giving a more complete and less political picture of family life than is currently available to the public.

More than 100 of the nation's leading family experts have now signed on as Research Fellows with the Council, agreeing to use their expertise to address pressing questions about what's happening to American families in books that will be readily understandable to non-specialist audiences.

In the first of this series, What's Love Got to Do With It? (Simon & Schuster, September 2000) Dr. Donna Franklin, Senior Research Fellow at the Council of Contemporary Families and author of the prize-winning Ensuring Inequality, discusses the reasons that black Americans have the highest
rates of divorce and non-marriage in the country.

Books to follow within the next two years will include a 20-year longitudinal study of the experiences and outcomes of children in post-divorce families, by noted author and family therapist Constance Ahrons; a history of marriage by family historian Stephanie Coontz, and an exploration of the changing roles and images of youth and adolescence by historian Steven Mintz.

"For too long,'' claims Ellen Pulleyblank Coffey, national co-director of CCF, ``public discussion of family issues has been dominated by the one-sided, ideology-addled pronouncements of political advocacy groups masquerading as academic institutions. The result is a barrage of misinformation and oversimplification about the effects of divorce, changing gender roles and family forms, and parenting issues. Our organization seeks to fill a void by gathering experts together to address timely, controversial subjects without any ideological straitjackets imposed on them. Many of these authors disagree with each other. The one central principle they share is that family diversity is here to stay and it is time to study it systematically, not wring our hands about it.''

Two moms may have names on birth certificates in Colorado

A story published today in the boulder Daily Camera reports that seven lesbian couples can keep both of their names on their children's birth certificates, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled this week.

The high court's precedent-setting ruling means the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment appears to have exhausted all of its legal avenues in challenging a Boulder District Court's 1999 ruling that granted lesbian couples full parental rights.

The Supreme Court ruling arose out of a 1999 decision by Boulder Chief District Judge Roxanne Bailin and Judge Morris Sandstead. Both judges allowed both partners of seven lesbian couples to be listed as the mothers on birth certificates.

In one case, Bailin made her ruling in an unchallenged petition that involved two women identified only as Anne G. and Jane K. Anne G. was impregnated by sperm from an anonymous donor and gave birth late last year.

The cases are sealed because they involve juveniles.

Nevertheless, Bailin said Colorado law allows people who have no biological connection to a child to assume parental rights in certain circumstances.

The judges applied the 1970s Uniform Parentage Act in making their decisions.

"What the District Court in Boulder has done was creatively apply it," said Cynthia Hossinger, the director of the Office of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

Hossinger said the act was adopted as a mechanism to establish paternity, which allows single mothers access to child support.


Thursday, September 7, 2000

House bill would help single parents on welfare

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that single parents leaving the welfare rolls would receive all the child support payments collected by the states under a bill that passed the House Thursday. The measure could provide more than $3 billion for the working poor over a five-year period.

The bill, H.R. 4678, passed 405-18.  It would "ensure that these mothers who have  left welfare get all the help they deserve,'' said Rep. Nancy Johnson,  R-Conn., chief  sponsor with Rep. Ben Cardin, D-Md.

Under the 1996 welfare reform act, the government takes half the past-due child support it collects for families leaving welfare to compensate for past welfare payments. The legislation would require that all child support arrearages go to the single parent.

Johnson said that would put more than $700 million more a year in the hands of low income parents struggling to leave welfare.

Supporters said the bill, which also would simplify distribution of child support collected by states, would help some of the 30 million children
now owed $50 billion in unpaid child support. States would have the option of sharing collections with families still on welfare.

The legislation, which still needs Senate consideration, also seeks to promote fatherhood with grants to both public and private groups that sponsor projects advancing marriage and parenting and helping fathers with job training.

Rep. Robert Scott, D-Va., offered an amendment to clarify that any grants to religious organizations for fatherhood or other programs would not be used to subject participants to sectarian worship or proselytization. It was defeated 257-163, with opponents saying current law already makes clear that taxpayer funds can't be used to promote religious activities.

House fails to override Clinton death-tax veto

A story published today by Reuters reports that U.S. House Republican leaders on Thursday failed to muster the votes needed to override President Clinton's veto of a bill that would have repealed estate taxes over 10 years.

The House sustained the veto on a vote of 274-157, falling short of the two-thirds needed to override as House Democrats helped Clinton win an election-year victory in his battle with congressional Republicans over what to do with huge projected budget surpluses.

House Republicans, who had made tax cuts the centerpiece of their legislative agenda, had hoped that they might be able to override the president's veto because 65 Democrats had joined them in June to pass the bill.

Fifty-three Democrats joined the Republican majority in Thursday's vote.  But that was not enough to give Republican leaders the necessary two-thirds majority to override.

Republicans argued the tax, which they refer to as the ''death tax,'' imposed an unfair burden on small business owners and family farmers who want to leave their businesses to their families.

"You don't give the dead guy a tax break,'' said Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas. ``He's in his grave. What you do is abstain from stealing his life's work legacy from his children.''

Republicans will have another chance at a Clinton tax cut veto next week when they take up the so-called marriage penalty tax.



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