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Date: Fri Apr 26 2002 - 11:51:01 EDT

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Good People & People of Faith

This message contains a lot of Legislative News:

1. Visiting Members of Congress for Mother's Day - May 9th.
2. New Jersey Bill for Shared Parenting 
3. Pennsylvania Bill for Reform
4. New York Petition for Shared Parenting
5. FEEDBACK - regarding President Lincoln's message

1. Visiting Members of Congress for Mother's Day - May 9th.
We have some Mothers and some Fathers ready to travel to DC on
May 9th to visit Members of Congress and voice the need for National
Family Law Reform.  Here are some notes/messages. If you are interested
check: http://www.AKidRight.Org/mom2002
Lisa ( - Charlotte, North Carolina),
Billie Sue ( - Morris Run, Pennsylvania),
Mary Jo ( - Macedon, New York),
Kris Kenderes ( - Binghamton, New York):
                        April 21
Right now the above list, along with myself, is what we have for folks
who have said they'd be ready to travel to DC to visit some
Congressional offices.

The target date is Thursday, May 9th. We'll meet for breakfast, have a
chance to talk and get to know each other a little better, and then
head over to the Capital.  Some of us will probably be arriving on
Thursday evening, we'll try to find a spot with good rates where we
can all stay.  I will try to call each of you during the next week.

As a group we would pay a visit to each of the US Senators for our
respective states, and also your member in the House of
Representatives.  I doubt we will see/meet any of them personally as
yet, but we should have a good chance to speak with an aid and drop
off some material.  If we start at 9AM, we should be done by 3PM and
able to leave.

Please prepare an individual story/petition for reform about yourself.
We recommend no more than a two page letter and attach a color photo
of you and your kids to the cover (we have found that really gets
their attention -- you are real people!).  Make 6 copies if you can.
You are welcome to bring a friends petition.

The group will have a "cover letter" similar to one we have at the
web site, http://www.AKidsRight.Org/actionb_syr/cover2.htm -- please
take the time to read that.

                        April 25
I have had the chance to speak with all of you and want to thank
you for taking the time to make this effort.  I just wanted to
let you know that I have now made contact with each of the following 
offices and followed up with a FAX request for a meeting:
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer & Hillary Clinton, New York
Congressman Thomas Reynolds, New York
Congressman Maurice Hinchey, New York
U.S. Senator Arlen Specter & Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania
Congressman John Petersen, Pennsylvania
U.S. Senator Jessie Helms & John Edwards, North Carolina

In each of the cases my first request was a brief meeting with the
Senator or Congressman -- failing that we should be able to see a
staff member.  An example of the fax'd letter follows, I personalized
it a bit for each of the members.  I expect to get responses in the
next week and finalize times with each of them so that we will have a
schedule for Thursday.  I already know we should be able to personally
meet Senator Edwards of North Carolina -- Thursday is his "Tar Heels"
day and he is available to the public.  His office said we can get our
picture taken with him!

Obviously anything can happen between now and them, but I am hopeful
we may be able to meet with a few Members of Congress in person.  It
will be a good start...

John Murtari (jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org)

2. New Jersey Bill for Shared Parenting 
Following submitted by Jeff Golden (  He makes
some good points about not getting too "personal" when presenting

New Jersey Senate Bill S-259, if passed into law, would provide for a
presumption of joint physical custody of children following their
parents' divorce.  It is currently assigned to the Senate Judiciary
Committee, and it will stay there until the Judiciary Committee votes
to release it to the full state Senate for a vote.  You can read the
full text of the bill at the New Jersey Legislature website

Senator Anthony Bucco, the sponsor of the bill, has asked for help in
getting the bill out of committee.  The Judiciary Committee will vote
on the bill when it is put on the agenda for a committee hearing.  The
committee's next hearing date is May 8, 2002.  The two co-chairmen of
the committee, Senators Adler of Camden County and Gormley of Atlantic
County, have to both agree to put it on the agenda for that hearing.

That's where you come in!  Phone Senator John Adler at 856-428-3343
and Senator Bill Gormley at 609-646-3500.  DO NOT get into a long
discussion about the merits of the bill.  DO NOT discuss your own
case.  Just tell them (or their aides) that you want Bill S-259 on the
Senate Judiciary Committee's agenda for their meeting on May 8, 2002.
You don't have to say whether you are in favor of or opposed to the
passage of the bill.  Just say you want the Judiciary Committee to
discuss it and take testimony on it on May 8th.

All you need to do now is make two phone calls.  If we are successful
in getting S-259 on the Judiciary Committee's agenda, you might want
to come to Trenton and testify as to why you think joint physical
custody is good for children, and why the standard in New Jersey
should be true joint custody.

3. Pennsylvania Bill for Reform
Following submitted by Sue Wolpin (

Today, 2 friends and I spent the day in Harrisburg meeting with members
of the Senate Judiciary committee.  We discussed SB 1260 & SB 1276.  We
have asked that the 2 bills be merged, and several of the members agreed
with us.  

There will be a hearing on SB 1260 on May 6 at 10 AM.  If anyone is
interested in testifying, contact Greg Warner in Senator Greenleaf's

Additionally, several members of the Judiciary committee asked if we
could refer any of their constituents who have problems with DRS, so
that they may learn of these problems.  

Attached is the list of members with their office phone numbers.  Please
contact your member and tell your story.

Stewart J. Greenleaf , chair 19 East Wing (717) 787-6599 
Charles D. Lemmond Jr., vice chair  172 Capitol Building  (717)787-7428
Jane M. Earll   351 Capitol Building       (717) 787-8927
Jim Gerlach 177 Capitol Building     (717) 787-1398   
Edward W. Helfrick   173 Capitol Building   (717) 787-8928
Jane Clare Orie  168 Main Capitol  (717) 787-6538
Jeffrey E. Piccola  171 Capitol Building  (717) 787-6801
Mary Jo White   168 Capitol Building  (717) 787-9684
Jay Costa Jr.      15 East Wing  (717) 787-7683
Lisa M. Boscola      183 Capitol Building  717-787-4236
Allen G. Kukovich  185 Capitol Building   (717) 787-6063
Michael A. O'Pake      11 East Wing     (717) 787-8925
Allyson Y. Schwartz    182 Capitol Building   (717) 787-1427

4. New York Petition for Shared Parenting
>From Deborah,

I understand that you are working for children's rights to both
parents after divorce, so I thought I would write to you.

My brother and his children recently went through New York's child
custody system; I can honestly say that it is the most disgusting
thing I've ever witnessed.  As such, my family and I are fighting for
"shared parenting" so that NO child will have to suffer through what
my niece and nephew have gone through.  No child should be denied of a
good and loving parent and four days a month of visitation is exactly
that: denying a child of a parent.

I wanted to share this online petition with you.  PLEASE: SIGN THIS

I'm sure that you're already aware that many of New York's legislators
are coming up for reelection - as such I believe that it is IMPERATIVE
that we really begin a letter-writing campaign to our local
legislators with letters of support for shared parenting (in addition
to the three committees that will be reviewing the three bills).

>>> We had some information on the NY Bills, but it was accidentally
deleted. If anyone can send in a summary of Bill Numbers, who to
contact, we would be happy to include it in our next message. (Ed.)

5. FEEDBACK - regarding President Lincoln's message
We got some interesting  feedback on the speech (repeated below), see the
full text at: http://www.AKidsRight.Org/archive/archive2002/0019.html

"Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott case, admits
that the language of the Declaration [of Independence] is broad enough
to include the whole human family, but he and Judge Douglas argue that
the authors of that instrument did not intend to include negroes, by
the fact that they did not at once, actually place them on an equality
with the whites. Now this grave argument comes to just nothing at all,
by the other fact, that they did not at once, or ever afterwards,
actually place all white people on an equality with one or
another.  And this is the staple argument of both the Chief Justice and the
Senator [Judge Douglas], for doing this obvious violence to the plain
unmistakable language of the Declaration. 

I think the authors of that notable instrument intended to include all
men, but they did not intend to declare all men equal in all
respects. They did not mean to say all were equal in color, size,
intellect, moral developments, or social capacity. They defined with
tolerable distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men
created equal: 'equal in "certain inalienable rights, among which are
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'  This they said, and
this meant. 

They did not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were then
actually enjoying that equality, nor yet, that they were about to
confer it immediately upon them. In fact they had no power to confer
such a boon. They meant simply to declare the right, so that the
enforcement of it might follow as fast as circumstances should
permit. They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which
should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to,
constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained,
constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and
deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of
life to all people of all colors everywhere. 

The assertion that "all men are created equal" was of no practical use
in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it was placed in
the Declaration, not for that, but for future use. Its authors meant
it to be, thank God, it is now proving itself, a stumbling block to
those who in after times might seek to turn a free people back into
the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the proneness of prosperity
to breed tyrants, and they meant when such should re-appear in this
fair land and commence their vocation they should find left for them
at least one hard nut to crack."

Future President Abraham Lincoln, June 26, 1857.

---   From Jim Stern (

>My memory of history is that Lincoln missed the Supreme Court's point.
>The Framers explicitly did not intend "men" to include slaves. In fact,
>this was one of the major sticking points at the continental congress.
>The Slave States would not participate in this new union of states if
>they could not have slaves. Further, there was great argument about how
>the new nation could be formed without slaves. With this, there was a
>compromise and the compromise was that "men" did not mean slaves. The
>Supreme Court chose not to be an activist court and do what was for the
>congress to do, that is change the constitution and write law. The
>Judiciary is empowered to interpret the law, but in this case, there is
>little to interpret since the framers clearly never intended "men" to
>include slaves. It's a most unfortunate moment in our history and often
>debated whether the Supreme Court was great at this moment or missed its
>opportunity to be great and act as a super legislature and do what was

--- From Gary Ewing (, An African-American performer.

>Now you know how it feels to be a "Negro"

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