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U.S. News Archive
January 21 - January 28, 2002



This page contains news for the period January 21, 2002 through January 28, 2002.  

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Monday, January 28, 2002

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Program helps homeless single people live a better life

A story published today by the News & Record reports that when the 32 studio apartments at Partnership Village opened in October 1999, the Rev. Mike Aiken would have been happy with a 50 percent success rate for the program's clients.

But two years later, Aiken and the administration at Partnership Village's Phase I, a housing development for formerly homeless single people addicted to drugs or alcohol, reported that 86 percent of the program's 84 clients remained alcohol- and drug-free in their time as Partnership Village residents. In addition, 85 percent completed the program -- worked, remained sober and paid monthly rent for at least six months, and 87 percent kept their public benefits, kept their jobs or increased their monthly income.

"It's been going real well," said Aiken, executive director of Greensboro Urban Ministry, a partner with several other local social agencies in the Partnership Village program. "Over 80 percent (of the clients) stayed sober. We were hoping it was going to be 50 percent, especially with this first group. We're filling a major void there for transitional housing."

Clients must have saved enough money to pay the $200 deposit at Partnership Village and their first month's rent of $278. They also must be able to get an account with Duke Power. While at Partnership Village, residents must pay their rent on time and in full and undergo random drug testing.

If a resident chooses to go back to school to finish a degree or learn a trade, Partnership Village will reimburse the client for school costs. Also, residents are required to attend weekly life-enrichment meetings on topics such as resume-writing, interview skills and stress management.

Aiken said he hopes the success of the village's first phase is mirrored in Phase II, which opened in October 2001 and serves formerly homeless families.

The key, Aiken said, is serving people who need a hand up from the streets.

"They really kind of need a transition time to get back on their feet before they get back into traditional society," Aiken said. "The future (of Partnership Village) is that we know that the need is a lot larger than what we have out there."


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Groups call for improvements in child custody cases handled by courts

A story published today by the Ann Arbor News reports that the National Organization for Women and a group for divorced fathers - are jointly calling for changes in the way child custody is handled by the court system.

NOW's Washtenaw County chapter and the Ann Arbor chapter of Fathers for Equal Rights say children end up in the middle of custody cases that sometimes become nothing short of a war between the parents, aided by their lawyers.

They want to remove some of the decision making from judges and have an independent office investigate citizen's complaints against judges and attorneys.

The groups say the existing system needs to be improved to create fairness for both parties while keeping the best interests of the child as the main objective.

The local NOW's Equality In Divorce Task Force and FER want to remove the final decision making from a judge to a team of professionals in mental health, social work, finance and education. The team would evaluate cases - looking at how a family break-up impacts a child from a psycho-social, financial and educational viewpoint - and then make custody decisions that would be enforced by the court.

The premise is that judges are attorneys with various legal backgrounds and are not professionally trained in child development and family systems, said Delia Lang, who's spearheading the task force's project and has also gone through child-custody proceedings in court.

The groups are also calling for an independent agency outside of a court system to investigate citizens' complaints against attorneys and judges handling custody cases.

Currently, complaints against attorneys are lodged with the Attorney Grievance Commission while the Judicial Tenure Commission investigates complaints against judges. But these commissions consist of attorneys, Lang said.

"You need an external group because the very nature of surveying yourself creates bias," she said.

"We want to equalize the playing field in the court system so that children are not victims of economic warfare and economics don't drive the decisions," Lang said.

University of Michigan Law Professor David Chambers said while the collaboration between the two groups seems to be "wonderfully healthy," it's unlikely that judges and legislators would accept it.

Chambers said a court could make the proposed panel available to parents and let them choose whether they want the panel to make the final decision. Or, a judge could choose to refer certain cases to the panel, even over the objection of a party.

What remains to be seen is whether another method would result in better decisions.

"If parents are fighting over custody, that means their communication over their child's best interest has broken down," said Chambers, a family-law specialist. "It's highly probable that one of them won't like what a panel does. I would be very surprised, if in the end, the level of unhappiness wouldn't be about the same as it is today. So then the question might still be, even though one of them might be unhappy, will this new approach produce better decisions for the child? We don't know this in advance."


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Arizona Senate approves bill giving military parents more influence in custody arrangements

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that the Senate passed a bill on a 22-5 vote that would give some military parents more influence over custody arrangements for their children when they are deployed away from their home base.

The armed forces requires soldiers with children to have a family care plan prepared before any deployment. In cases involving divorced or unmarried parents, some soldiers involve the other parent in that family care plan. But others don't want their children living with their former partners.

Noncustodial parents who seek custody in such cases are given preferential treatment under current state law.

Senate bill 1021 would require the court to consider military family care plans as part of the best interests for a child when determining custody arrangements during the military parent's deployment.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.


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Making room for a dad

A story published today by the Virginian-Pilot reports that when Virginia resident Wanda Futrell had her only child was born in 1986, she wasn't interested in having a man in her life.

But the baby's father felt differently. He wanted to be a part of their daughter's life. In 1992, he persuaded Futrell to have his name listed on the child's birth certificate.

Two months later, in early 1993, he died in a car accident.

Because she'd established paternity on the birth certificate, Futrell was able to apply for and receive Social Security benefits for her daughter.

And that's the story Futrell, birth registrar and unit secretary of the Women's Center at Obici Hospital, tells other unmarried moms today when she senses their reluctance to name the father.

It's her personal testimony that has changed the tide in paternity identification at the Suffolk hospital, where almost half of the 800-plus babies born each year go home with unwed moms.

In a year's time, Futrell, a 27-year hospital employee, has increased the known paternity of newborns from 32.12 percent to 60.4 percent.

Paternity identification at Obici has nearly doubled, said Wynne Beale, coordinator of the state's Paternity Establishment Program. It's well above the state's 46.9 percent average.

Establishing paternity at birth saves both the state and the parents time and money.

If an unwed mother files for social services within six months of a child's birth, the state is legally bound to try to establish paternity if the father is not identified on the birth certificate.

``Getting the father's name at birth takes a big financial burden off the state,'' Beale said. ``It avoids genetic testing, court battles. We ask that parents voluntarily sign a notarized form for the birth certificate.''

Some mothers are still reluctant.

``The registrars tell us that mothers many times say they just want to have a child,'' Beale said. ``It's not necessary for a couple to be married. A lot of mothers want nothing to do with the father of their child. They want to raise the child on their own.''


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Bush administration pushes welfare marriage


A story released today by the Associated Press reports that President Bush will ask Congress to set aside at least $100 million for experimental programs aimed at getting single welfare mothers to marry, but is resisting conservative pressure to require that states push marriage in their welfare programs.

Staking a moderate position on welfare, the Bush administration also is rejecting arguments for cutting overall welfare funding, which is in line with the liberal position that much remains to do.

Beyond that, the administration is considering relaxing the strict work rules adopted in 1996 to allow for limited education and training. And officials are contemplating new money for experiments aimed at helping former recipients, most of whom are still in poverty, get higher-paying jobs.

"I want to make sure we take the basic system that we have, which is working, and improve upon that so that people that are working and have left welfare have got better opportunities to advance and move up the economic ladder into self- sufficiency," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said. Thompson has been a national leader on welfare issues since he was governor of Wisconsin.

Some of the administration's plan will be described in the budget Bush submits to Congress on Feb. 4. Other pieces will be rolled out as debate gears up over how to change the 1996 law. But so far, the administration is rejecting the most sweeping proposals from both liberals and conservatives, said three administration officials, who described the administration's planning on condition of anonymity.

Take the sensitive issue of marriage and how -- or whether -- to get single moms on welfare to marry the fathers of their children.

Many conservatives have made this their top priority. They argue that two-parent families are better for children and are a key to escaping poverty.

Governors, who want as much freedom as possible in spending welfare money, detest this sort of mandate. So the Bush plan will offer a pot of money -- at least $100 million each year, according to one official -- for experiments aimed at getting poor people to marry. The administration also will suggest that states be required to explain what they are doing to promote marriage, forcing them to at least consider the issue.

The administration also wants to scrap $100 million in annual bonuses to states with the largest reductions in births to unwed parents. Some argue these bonuses have failed to reward the states that are really doing the best job.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

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Singles ministries: bringing single people together

A story published today by the Lincoln Journal Star reports that according to the 2000 Census, more Lincoln, Nebraska residents are single. The percentage of married couples has dropped to 46.3 percent compared to 50.6 percent 10 years before.

There may be as many as 50,000 singles living in the Lincoln area, said Wes Daberkow, mentor of the Lutheran Single Adult Ministries.

To accommodate this change in society, many area churches have added some sort of singles programming, especially in the last five years. Most programs divide the singles into age groups - the young college set, mid-life singles and seniors - to better minister to their needs.

Today, for those active in the singles ministries, being single means attending comedy clubs, volleyball games, card games, bowling, retreats, dances, horseback rides, ski trips, adult education classes and movie nights.

Judging by the long list of activities offered through a number of Lincoln-area singles ministries, there seems to be a healthy mix of social activities along with opportunities for spiritual and personal growth for every interest and denomination.

No matter what the age or the circumstance, Daberkow said, bringing single people together is the ultimate mission.

Father Bob Barnhill, Catholic Family Life office director, said many young singles express a desire to have a relationship with others who share their same values. Barnhill said he knows when he's helped plant the seeds of this value system when he hears that singles group members have gotten together on their own after meeting at the church's organized events.

Brian Edwards, associate pastor at the Lincoln Berean Church, said he sees many singles today interested in "pursuing God that makes us whole together."

Edwards said the Berean Church, which started its singles programming six years ago, has seen a steady increase in all three of its target groups. Many single church members have started to gather informally at the popular downtown restaurant Solid Ground for fellowship and companionship outside of the organized church activities.

Joni McCown, administrative coordinator at St. Mark's Methodist Church, said once people feel comfortable coming to singles events, whether it's to play volleyball in the gym or meet others downtown at the Rococo Theater, they usually try other events such as classes or prayer groups.

Despite the difference in lifestyles between those in the work force or those raising children alone or those who are retired, Edwards said, the goals in the singles ministry are generally the same. He describes those goals as: "Being serious about the ministry and having fun doing it while pursuing a God that makes us whole together."

Friday, January 25, 2002

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Twentysomethings and starter marriages

A story released today by ABC News reports that a new book says that an increasing number of 20-something couples are getting into so-called "starter marriages," childless unions that end in a sheaf of divorce papers within a few years.

In her book The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony author Pamela Paul defines starter marriages as first-time marriages that last five years or less and do not yield children. Obviously, no one thinks that they are embarking on a brief marriage on the way in, but Paul, an editor at American Demographics magazine, asserts that this type of marriage is a growing trend among Generation Xers.

The government doesn't track "starter marriages," but Paul cites Census Bureau statistics showing that in 1998 there were more than 3 million divorced 18- to 29-year-olds. There were 253,000 divorces among 25- to 29-year-olds in 1962.

Paul says that most young couples who divorce early rush into marriage for one of two reasons: either they have finished school and are living with their parents and want someone else to cling to, or they are very successful power couples who feel that they need a great marriage to complement their fabulous careers and looks.

"When people go into their starter marriages, their eyes are focused on the wedding day, and they don't give much thought what is going to happen in the next 50 years," Paul said.

Starter marriages also often involve the first children of the divorced generation, Paul said. Though their parents got divorced, this group believes that they will not, though at the same time they realize it is a viable option.

"The baby boomer sort of really challenged the idea of marriage and transformed the whole institution of matrimony so it is interesting to see how the next generation handles it," Paul said.

The good news is that the older and wiser divorcees wind up with the tools and experience needed to make the second trip down the aisle more lasting and rewarding, Paul said.

Paul said she found that many starter marriage veterans are wiser for their experience.

"The biggest lesson people can learn from their own divorces was how to get married again and how to get married for a lifetime."

Thursday, January 24, 2002

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Single men outnumbering their counterparts


A story released today by the HometownChannel.com reports that according to the figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau, for the first time in more than a decade, single men in their 30s and 40s outnumber single women of that age.

Those figures indicate a reversal in trend from the 1980s, when there was double the number of single women than men aged 35 to 44. Newsweek magazine once quipped that '80s women of that age had a better of being killed by a terrorist than getting married.

The Census Bureau added that singles who have never been married now make up the fastest growing segment in America -- more than 40 percent of the overall adult population. And those who are getting married are waiting longer. Census figures also show that the median age of marriage has reached a historic high -- 25 years for women and 27 years for men.


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Local program connects single people with space to rent

A story published today by the Echoes-Sentinel reports that New Jersey resident Dorothy Garbey, 80, has glaucoma. Not long after her husband died, her eyesight began to deteriorate rapidly. She was looking for someone who would be willing to move in with her, and drive her to meetings and the store.

Janice Raley, 61, needed a new, less expensive apartment after divorcing her husband. She could not afford to keep her old apartment in Bound Brook, and was looking in newspapers for apartments to share.

Today Garbey and Raley are living together on Sam Street in Warren. Garbey gets her ride to meetings, stores and anywhere else she needs to go and did not have to give up her two-story home, which she formerly shared with her now-deceased husband, in the process, and Raley has a new place to hang her hat.

Garbey and Raley say they owe HomeSharing Program of Somerset County, which will be conducting a phone-a-thon this February, for their good fortune. Without this organization, which was started by Shuey Horowitz and others to help people confront housing costs in the county, the two would not have met and they would not be living together.

''HomeSharing is a wonderful program,'' Garbey said. ''It fills a need in our community.''

However, HomeSharing is not for everybody. While HomeShare workers interview the applicants and try to match them with comparable roommates, that does not always happen. Mrs. Garbey said while she had a good relationship with her first room mate, she said Mrs. Raley was more outgoing and friendly.

''I know people who have tried it and say they'll never do it again,'' she added. ''You need to learn how to adapt with a person,'' Mrs. Raley said.

''You need to have a person who can trust.'' Horowitz said HomeSharing serves residents in Somerset County and Middlesex Borough in Middlesex County. HomeSharing can be reached at (908) 526-4663 or (9 08) 526-HOME.


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Divorce, doing the right thing?


A story released today by Scripps Howard News Service reports that the popular belief that children yearn to reunite their divorced parents right up to the time dad and mom enter separate nursing homes simply seems to be a myth.

When researchers checked in with children 20 years after their parents' divorces, they found that by adulthood, 80 percent had decided that their parents did the right thing.

"I had expected more of the kids to be pining for their parents to still be together," said sociologist Constance Ahrons, referring to sentiments she discovered recently while following up on her 1994 book, "The Good Divorce." In that book, she tracked the effects of divorce on 98 Midwestern couples for five years.

"So it was surprising to find the majority didn't still carry that fantasy," said Ahrons.

"I think it means that with time and maturity, they better understand why their parents divorced," she said. "They see their parents as individuals, and a lot of kids say they see their parents as better off than when they were married."

Ahrons' findings come from questionnaires completed by 173 adult children of the families she first surveyed. Those children now range in age from 21 to 48.

To get beyond "the mythology that yes, in a perfect world, they would like their parents to be together," she said, she designed questions to reach their adult view.

She asked: "Can you imagine your parents as they are today married to each other?" Seventy-five percent answered no.

She also asked: "As an adult, knowing what you do about life and relationships, what do you think about your parents' decision to divorce?" Seventy-nine percent rated it as "probably a good decision" or "a very good decision."

Asked for their reasons, many said they knew the divorce got one parent out of a bad situation, or that it gave them a stepdad they grew to love, or a half-brother or half-sister who's important to them.

Even if their parents got along well after the split, Ahrons said, the children were no more likely to wish for a reunion.

What about her group's trust in marriage?

"They might be a little less trusting, but I don't know that that's true," Ahrons said. "I think if you talk to most people in their 20s these days, there are going to be issues of relationships and trust."

Robert Emery, director of the Center for Children, Family and the Law at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, also has studied adult children of divorce - in his case, 99 college students whose parents had divorced and 94 whose were still together. He, too, is writing a book.

Like Ahrons, he found that 80 percent of the children of divorce agreed it had been the right thing for their family.

"You've got to see both the forest and the trees," Emery said. "The forest is that most kids of divorce don't have mental health problems and are functioning like children whose parents stayed married.

"But when you look close up, you see that in divorce these kids weren't invulnerable."


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Southwest Florida ministers to enact new marriage policy to fight rising divorce rates

A story published today by the News-Press reports that ministers in Southwest Florida are vowing to cut the local divorce rate by adopting a new community marriage policy.

The new planned policy requires couples to know each other for at least one year, be engaged for four months, attend premarital counseling sessions led by a married couple and take a personality assessment before the pastors will marry them.

"Churches have often been seen as marriage mills that don’t provide a lot of in-depth premarital counseling," said Forrest Head, a pastor to young married couples at First Baptist Church in Naples, which is adopting the marriage policy.

About 20 ministers from Bonita Springs and Naples will sign the community marriage policy Feb. 14 on the steps of the Collier County Courthouse.

The policy is part of Marriage Savers Ministries, a nonprofit organization started by Mike McManus, who writes a nationally syndicated column on ethics and religion.

The marriage policy program started in Modesto, Calif., in 1986 where the divorce rate there fell nearly 48 percent through 2001, according to the organization’s statistics. Marriage Savers is now in 158 cities in 38 states, including Tallahassee.

The effort in Southwest Florida is being encouraged by local judges.

"Wouldn’t it be neat for people to make long-term commitments to each other and stay married?" said Circuit Judge Hugh Starnes, who handles divorce cases in Fort Myers.

"It’s going to be a new day for marriage in the community. They’ll be saying there will be no more quickie weddings because quickie weddings lead to quickie divorces," McManus said.

Besides the premarital program, Marriage Savers offers counseling for marriages in crisis and dealing with stepchildren and continuing programs to strengthen marriages, McManus said. He said Marriage Savers also encourages people who don’t go to church to seek secular marriage counseling.

The in-depth premarital program is the key to getting marriages off on the right foot to avoid marriage counseling crisis later on, McManus said.

Problems that crop up in marriages such as finances, sex, lack of communication and other issues are discussed with the engaged couple by the marriage mentoring couple who may have dealt with these difficulties, McManus said.

A 150-question compatibility survey also is filled out by the couple and potential problems are addressed in the mentoring sessions.

Program supporters say it weeds out couples who rush into marriage without getting to know each other well through courtship.

"I recently had a couple who asked me to marry them. Both of them had been married before and had known each other for only three weeks," said Don Wiggins, pastor of the Restoration Church in Naples.

Wiggins said he turned the couple down, telling them about the Marriage Savers policy being adopted by the church. "They understood, although they didn’t necessarily like it."


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The new reality of relationships

An article written by James Q. Wilson for the City Journal focuses on why the attraction for marriage is losing it's appeal to the general populous. The full text of his article can be read by clicking to the link below:


Wednesday, January 23, 2002

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Marriage as a college course for students

A story published today by the Chicago Tribune reports that Northwestern University is offering credit course about relationships, love and marriage properly titled Marriage 101.

Taught by four psychologists and a psychiatrist, the class is the first of its kind in the nation. It is designed to help students know themselves and make better decisions when they select a lifetime partner. Bill Pinsof, clinical psychologist, marriage and family therapist and adjunct professor at Northwestern, led the way in developing the course. "These students are really hungry for information about marriage," he says. "We believe there is something uniquely appropriate and timely about working with a college-age population."

Couples who are about to marry also sometimes receive pre-marital counseling, often from a priest or minister. "When they are offered free counseling, half refuse," notes Pinsof. "They've already selected a partner and they are on the way to the wedding." College-age students, however, are "perfect for this course--open, mature, but not yet committed," Pinsof says.

In the Marriage 101 syllabus, the class is described as a "primary prevention--a sort of immunization against serious marital troubles and divorce in later life."

Art Nielsen, a professor and psychiatrist who helped develop the course, says he frequently is asked whether colleges should be offering such material, which is personal and experiential in nature. "A college education shouldn't only consist of studying the French Revolution. The average college student should come away with some understanding of his intimate relationships," Nielsen says.

"Marriage is a huge institution, an important institution and an institution that is falling apart," says Alexandra Solomon, another professor. "Most college students will end up married or in a long-term relationship, yet we don't do a good job of helping them with marriage."

Even though the class has a primary goal of helping students gain self-awareness, it is also academically rigorous, with a lengthy reading list, weekly quizzes, a research paper and a daily journal. Also, the students must interview "a mentor couple"--a pair married for 20 years or more--and write a term paper. They must interview their own parents about their marriage and follow up with a similar report.

The steep requirements apparently don't scare away students. During the university's fall quarter, the class drew more applicants than available openings.

Marriage 101 is offered jointly by Northwestern and the Family Institute, a nonprofit mental health service. Pinsof, who is president of the Family Institute, would like to track students who take the course, to determine if it actually lowers divorce rates.

"Five to 10 years from now, we hope the students will have light bulbs going off in their heads. They'll remember some of what they discussed and they'll reapply it," Solomon says. "Like housework--it's about power and influence. That's why people fight so hard about mopping the floor."


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Virginia lawmakers reintroduce controversial pill bill


A story published today by the News & Advance reports that a Virginia lawmaker is reintroducing a controversial bill that would allow women easier access to emergency contraceptive pills.

Del. Viola Baskerville's bill would allow pharmacists to dispense the "morning-after pill," which is basically an extra-strong dose of birth control pills. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the pill prevents pregnancy either by preventing the fertilization of the egg, or by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

Currently, women must get a doctor's prescription for emergency contraception. But Baskerville says allowing pharmacists to dispense the pill would make it easier for women - especially those without regular doctors, those in rural areas where doctors may be far away, or those who need the pill on a weekend when doctors' offices are closed - to get the pill. The pill is "time-sensitive," she said, and quick access is critical to its effectiveness.

If more women could get the morning-after pill, Baskerville said, there would be fewer unintended pregnancies and fewer abortions.

"As Virginia policymakers, we would all like to see abortions as rare occurrences," she said. "However, we can no longer continue to talk about making abortions rare if we do not also act to prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place."

Baskerville said the bill is "about public health …it is not about personal morals. It is not about promoting sex. This is a reality-based prevention."

Last year, the bill made it through the Senate, but failed to pass in the House.

This year, in hopes of smoothing its passage, there is an identical Senate version of the bill, being carried by Sen. Warren Barry, R-Fairfax.

Barry, who said he strongly opposes abortion, said he supported the emergency contraception bill last year after consulting medical experts, who assured him emergency contraception and abortions were two separate things.

So he helped get Baskerville's bill through the Senate last year, and is carrying it this year.

"I can't imagine anything more devastating than being a female alone with an unwanted pregnancy," Barry said.

Baskerville said Barry's sponsorship sends a message of bipartisan support for the bill.

However, the list of co-patrons for the bill shows only three Senate Republicans have signed on, and no House Republicans.

Baskerville may find even stronger opposition to the bill in the House this year than she had last year, because Republicans have gained a majority of 64 seats.

Baskerville said she's not sure how her bill will fare in the House this year.

"We will not have any clear indication before it's debated in committee," she said.

While the bill's legislative support is uncertain, it is backed by a number of women's health groups, including the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the National Institute of Health, Planned Parenthood, Republicans for Choice, the Virginia Pharmacists Association, the Virginia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, Virginians Aligned Against Sexual Assault and the Virginia League of Women Voters.


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Utah lawmaker wants to change state’s divorce law on allowing testimony from children


A story published today by the Standard Examiner reports that Utah State Senator Terry Spencer wants to close a loophole in divorce laws that allows parents to have their children testify in custody cases.

The Layton Republican said although the practice is not common, Utah County judges believe it is a parent’s constitutional right to call their children to the stand.

"We’ve got to have some guidelines," Spencer said.

Spencer’s bill would prohibit children from testifying if a custody evaluation has been performed, unless a judge found extenuating circumstances.

Senate Bill 106 would also give substantial weight to children’s parental preference if no custody evaluation was performed and they were 12 or older.

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, who is an attorney, questioned the inclusion of custodial evaluations saying his county doesn’t do many evaluations because of the expense and time involved. Instead lawyers often refer divorcing parents to mediation, he said.

Hillyard said he was also "really nervous" about giving undue weight to a 12-year-old child’s preference.

"Children can be absolute pawns between warring parents," Hillyard said. "It puts unbelievable pressure on the child."

Stewart Ralphs, the director of Salt Lake’s Legal Aid, said often times children don’t have any idea what is in their best interest. He said "Disneyland dads" could entice children away from a parent who sets limits and makes children behave.

"Children want to live with the fun parent, not the one who is going to teach them responsibility," he said.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

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Program helps single-moms focus on future

A story released today by the Rocky Mountain News reports that when Marlin Anderson arrived in Colorado in August, all she had was the clothes on her back and her four young children in hand.

She had fled Chicago on a bus, wanting to make a fresh start. It didn't come as quickly as she'd hoped, as she and her kids bounced from shelter to shelter.

But on Sept. 10, Anderson walked into Damen House, a long-term residential program for homeless single moms.

The spacious three-story house in northwest Denver offers long-term shelter and assistance for homeless single women and their children. While other shelters allow brief stays, families can live at Damen House for two years.

That time is crucial, said executive director Donna Baiocco.

In 2001, Damen House, which is sponsored by The Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity, served 25 mothers with 44 children. More than a third of the women had past drug or alcohol problems, and a third had been victims of domestic violence.

"If they're homeless and they just want a place to stay, that's not us," Baiocco said. "We want to take in families who really want to get back on their feet."

Once admitted, the women are entered into GED or job skills training programs. They must set, and meet, weekly goals with a caseworker. Group sessions teach parenting, self-esteem and organizational skills.

A typical stay lasts from five to nine months, Baiocco said. It's gotten longer as housing costs in Denver have risen.

Once the women leave, they receive support for another two years through a follow-up program. Currently, Damen House is home to seven women and 14 children with another 18 families in the follow-up program.

Opened in 1992, Damen House moved three years ago into a home roomy enough for 30 women and children. Last year, a day care and preschool opened for the children of current and recent residents.

"We really want to deal with whatever has caused the woman to become homeless and help her get the skills she needs to make it on her own," Baiocco said.


teen parent.jpg (3647 bytes)Lawmakers announce federal grant to assist teen parents

A story published today by the Buffalo News reports that a long-standing New York program that gives homeless teenage parents a second chance received a second wind Monday when Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rep. John J. LaFalce announced $816,538 in federal grants.

Homespace Corp., which provides transitional housing to homeless single parents and their children, will use the money to support its existing facility. It also will help fund a new building for younger parents called Second Chance Home.

Clinton and LaFalce appeared at the organization's headquarters Monday to announce the grants, which are awarded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Clinton noted that the new 12-unit development planned will mark a new chapter in the Homespace story by providing shelter for teen parents who are in foster care themselves.

"I look for creative and effective programs that can make a difference if they are replicated," Clinton said. "Homespace works. And Homespace's commitment to provide structure for homeless and young people, and now its commitment to provide the structure that young mothers need, is exactly the kind of cost-effective commitment that I believe works."

Homespace's new Second Chance Home will be built to serve 12 families whose parents are 16 and 17 years old. The group home will allow teenage mothers to live under adult supervision with their children while meeting the obligations required for welfare. Homespace continues to raise funds for the $1.25 million development, with half of the funds awarded Monday committed toward that goal. United Parcel Service also has awarded $100,000 to the project through its UPS Foundation.

Monday, January 21, 2002

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Earning inequality can affect relationships


A story published today by the Orlando Sentinel reports that when earning power becomes unbalanced in a relationship, the relationship issues get even more complicated.

"There are official expectations and unofficial expectations," said Michael Freeny, a Longwood, Fla., psychotherapist. "It's the unofficial expectations that get everybody in trouble. As modern as we think we are, as liberated and enlightened and empowered and all that kind of stuff, when someone gets married, all these old traditions begin lurking beneath the surface. There's this kind of an Ozzie and Harriet mentality that the man's going to be the provider. Even if they agree that doesn't have to be the case, there's this gosh-darn undercurrent that keeps swirling around."

Since 1966, the percentage of working moms in the labor force has risen from 35 percent to 62 percent. Among today's two-career couples, men still earn more than women the vast majority of the time. But that's changing.

In 30 percent of couples where both partners work full time, the woman earns more. That's up from 26 percent a decade ago. Even when you include women who work only part time, nearly one-fourth of wives have fatter paychecks than their husbands.

Men so ashamed of earning less than their partners that they won't even discuss it have low self-esteem to begin with, said Dr. Jacquelyn Olander, a Winter Park, Fla., psychologist.

"I've had some mensay, 'Hey, I wish she would make more -- then I could work less and stay home,"' Olander said. "Other times they joke about it, and you can tell there's a bit of insecurity there, a bit of nervousness. If the man feels self-assured and comfortable with himself, it shouldn't be an issue."

For Kevin Nichols, it isn't.

"A lot of guys are like, 'No woman is going to make more than me,'" said Nichols, 31, who is between jobs now but who typically earns half what his wife does. "I lived in a 400-square-foot apartment in Daytona on what I'm making. I don't care if she's making more. I'm glad. I tell these guys, 'Get over it.'"


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Sniffing out ideal mates

A story released today by BBC News reports that researchers have come up with hard evidence that what women really want from a mate is somebody who reminds them of their father.

They have discovered that women sniff out men whose body odor is similar to that of their fathers. The theory is that a man who smells similar to a woman's father is likely to have a compatible immune system.

The nature odors that all humans produce are called pheromones. They are influenced to a degree by a cluster of genes related to the immune system called the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC).

The new results show that the odor selection of women is even more finely tuned than was previously thought.

A total of 49 unmarried women were tested by asking them to smell T-shirts worn by men for two consecutive nights.

The US researchers, led by Dr. Martha McClintock from the University of Chicago, found that women preferred men with a genetic smell somewhat the same - but not identical - to their own.

Dr. McClintock said: "We had men wear the t-shirts at night while they were sleeping.

"So the scents that we collected were really quite mild. They would be like what you would smell on someone's pillow or sheet."

Analysis showed a significant correlation with odor components produced by immune system genes inherited from the women's fathers.

The scientists suggest that being attracted to some of father's gene smells may be a safe gamble for a woman to ensure her offspring gets a tried and tested immune system.

Dr. McClintock said the whole process seemed to work on an unconscious level.

"These scents were not detectable as human scents. The women knew they were scents, but had no idea that they were human scents."

The study is published in the journal Nature Genetics.


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Mississippi lawmaker wants to expedite marriages in state

A story released today by the Daily Journal reports that Mississippi state Rep. Ricky Cummings, D-Iuka, is hoping that a bill he has filed for consideration this legislative session will return some of that matrimonial glory to the Northeast Mississippi city. The bill, which has been filed for consideration during the 2002 legislative session, will eliminate the three-day waiting period and the blood test for couples marrying in Mississippi.

"When I was young, Iuka was the marriage capital of the world. All I am trying to do is make that happen again," Cummings said.

Tishomingo County Circuit Clerk Donna Dill, whose office issues marriage licenses, said during the decade of the 1940s, 10 books were filled containing the names of those who received marriage licenses in Tishomingo County. During the 1950s, 49 of those books were filled. During the two decades of the 1960s and 1970s, 14 books were filled while in the 1990s only three books of people registering to marry were filled. Each book contains the names of about 600 couples.

Being in the northeast corner of Mississippi, bordering Tennessee and Alabama and having good roads heading to town from Arkansas and Georgia made Iuka an attractive spot for people ready to get married and not wanting to wait. That all changed when Mississippi made its marriage laws restrictive in 1958.

Ironically, as Mississippi was making its marriage laws more restrictive, other states were liberalizing their statutes. Now there is no wait to get married in the neighboring states of Alabama, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Louisiana, like Mississippi, has a 72-hour waiting period and a requirement for a blood test.

Under Cummings' bill, the three-day waiting period and blood test would be abolished. Anyone over the age of 21 could obtain a license and get married immediately.

"I believe this is a tourism and economic development bill," Cummings said. "I believe places like Tunica (where casinos are located) and the Gulf Coast and Vicksburg would be attractive for marriage chapels if this bill passes.

"I know one or two probably would be built in Tishomingo County."

Cummings said he believes the bill will have widespread support during the session.


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Critics say funds are poorly spent for Arizona’s marriage classes

A story published today by the Dallas Morning News reports that Arizona’s controversial $1 million dollar voluntary marriage seminar program which is being funded with federal money has been launched to teach skills to those about to be married, newlyweds or couples with troubles in effective communication and conflict resolution.

Arizona also has published a free "healthy marriage handbook" to be given out when a couple obtains a marriage license.

Opponents say the federal funds could be better spent on programs directly aiding the poor, and they suggest that the state is entering an area where it is ill-equipped to provide guidance.

State Rep. Mark Anderson, the lead program proponent, said the workshops represent a "common sense" approach.

"So much of what we do is dealing with problems that come from broken marriages," the Republican lawmaker said. "If we could ultimately help people through education, it's not only healthy, but it is really a smart business move for the state. It saves us money in the end."

But critics say that state government has no business playing in this arena and that religious institutions and private groups should bear the burden.

"There are many places where people can go to get this kind of thing," said Republican Rep. Carolyn Allen, state House majority leader. "Government can't be the big daddy to everybody. I don't think this is the best use of our resources."

Jodi Beckley, Republican Gov. Jane Hull's human services policy adviser, said the money going into the program is misplaced, and there is little chance for success.

"This is poverty money, and that's what it's supposed to be going toward," Ms. Beckley said. "There is nothing wrong with marriage –– the governor is married –– but there are more pressing needs out there for poor people." She said the state needs to pump the money into such items as child care, education and job training.

Arizona is one of a handful of states that has jumped into the marriage movement, which started in the early 1990s and took hold with major welfare reform in 1996.

One of the leaders is considered to be Oklahoma, where Republican Gov. Frank Keating has set aside $10 million for a marriage program. Others providing financial incentives for marriage training include Florida, Minnesota and Maryland.

Marriage therapist Diane Sollee, founder and director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, said states are getting the word that marriage-skills education is a good way to go.

"Marriage isn't a private matter," she said. "If it was, we wouldn't regulate things like you can't marry your cousin or have many wives. If a marriage crashes, the state has to go in and pay for everything. It is the state's business."


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Born-again Christians not immune to divorce

A story released today by CNSNews.com reports that according to a new book called The Divorce Reality, born-again Christians are just as likely to get divorced as anybody else in American society, and the vast majority of those identifying themselves as divorced and born-again actually got their divorces after converting to Christianity.

"In the churches, people have a superstitious view that Christianity will keep them from divorce, but they are subject to the same problems as everyone else, and they include a lack of relationship skills," said Donald Hughes, author of The Divorce Reality and editor of the JesusJournal.com Web site. "Just being born again is not a rabbit's foot," he said.

Hughes says the divorce statistics referred to in his book come from a 2001 Barna Research Poll, which indicated that 33 percent of born-again Christians end their marriages in divorce, roughly the same as the general population, and that 90 percent of those divorces happen after the conversion to Christianity. Hughes maintains born-again Christians try to foster a public perception that they do not get divorces because of their born-again status.

Meg Flammang, a project director in Barna Research said that her firm did not originally set out to determine the divorce rate among born-again Christians. "The purpose of the poll was not to go out there and just test divorce rates," Flammang said. "It was just a national public opinion poll, and in there, we asked a series of demographic questions, one of which was current marital status as well as if the person had ever been divorced."

Flammang said she and her colleagues then compared divorce rates between survey participants who were and were not born-again Christians. Barna Research defines born- again Christians as, "individuals who stated a personal commitment to Christ, having confessed their sins, embracing Christ as their savior, and believing that they have received eternal salvation because of their faith in Christ alone."

She said most people become born-again during their high school years, and consequently, "a lot of the divorces happened when these people had [become] born-again Christians." The data is consistent with earlier Barna findings about the actions of born-again Christians, according to Flammang.

"We have found that in a lot of ways Christians are not living different lives than non-Christians, when we look at their behavior," Flammang said. "It's hard for Christians to understand because it seems contrary to what people think would happen."

Barna Research said that it is only interested in reporting facts and not in making born-again believers look bad. "We would love to be able to report that Christians are living very distinct lives and impacting the community, but ... in the area of divorce rates they continue to be the same," Flammang said.


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