September 13, 2000House 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
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
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
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
"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
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
* 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
* Be sure you live in a community
that is varied and accepting of you and your child.
Tuesday, September 12, 2000
Dutch approve gay
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.
Friday, September 8, 2000
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.
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
"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
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
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.