Saturday, February 17, 2007

Taxpayers Left Holding the Baby

Taxpayers Left Holding the Baby is the name the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs gave to my article about the fact that 55% of births in that state were paid for by Medicaid. I don't cite the usual cuplrits. The young women of Oklahoma are not stupid. But the older people who make policy may be....

Monday, February 05, 2007

Presumption of Parenthood

is not exactly equivalent to the Presumption of Paternity that has long reigned in family law. This is just one of the many issues involved in the Miller-Jenkins custody dispute that involves both Vermont and Virginia law. One of the attorneys birth mother Lisa Miller hired early in the case told her that under Vermont's civil union statute, there was a presumption that any child born within a civil union was presumed to be the child of both parties to that union. A rule that makes perfect sense in the case of an opposite sex union makes no sense in the case of same sex unions. Here is an excerpt from a long article on the Miller-Jenkins case::
JUDY BARONE HAD BEEN A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY IN RUTLAND for more than 20 years when she agreed to represent Lisa. Barone concluded that her new client had been unjustly deprived of her right to argue that Janet was not Isabella's parent, she said. So she filed a motion asking Judge Cohen to withdraw the waiver of that right.

Cohen wanted to know if Barone was suggesting that Janet was not entitled to any parental rights solely because she had no biological connection to Isabella.

"No," Barone said. "The law in Vermont is clear that a child born during the time of the marriage to one of the people in the marriage . . ."

"And civil union," the judge interjected.

"And civil union," Barone agreed. "Would be rebuttably presumed to be a child of the civil union, the marriage. That leaves the right of either party to rebut the presumption. My client chose to rebut the presumption. She noticed the court of her choice, and it was waived involuntarily by her counsel that morning. Our request, judge, is that we put that issue back before the court."

Lisa and Janet's breakup had exposed a fundamental flaw in Vermont law, Barone suggested. Vermont's civil union statute made it a rebuttable presumption that Janet was Isabella's parent, yet spelled out no specific grounds for rebuttal. Other Vermont statutes, which predated the civil union law, detailed two routes to establishing legal parental rights: having a biological connection to a child, or adopting. Janet would not meet either of those standards, Barone said. "I think this case is really about the standard in Vermont that we have to be able to establish parentage," Barone told the judge. "What can be more basic and important?"

Janet's lawyer, Theodore Parisi, said that he found it a "huge stretch" to think that the Vermont statutes requiring proof of adoption or a biological connection to establish legal parental rights applied to people in civil unions.

Cohen agreed. Janet "is presumed to be -- in my view, your client without question is presumed to be the natural parent . . . by the basis of the civil union," Cohen told Parisi.

"We've got to look at the law," Barone countered. "That's our job here . . . If there is a problem with this law, then that's not your fault, my fault, this couple's fault. The solution will come. But we can't deny her her rights . . . There's a law that says who the parents are. We've gone by this for years in marriage, and in civil unions we have to work this out. It may be uncomfortable, and I grant you that it is for everybody concerned. But it's important."

Score Another Point for Dinesh D'Souza

My friend Joanna Bogle writes from London, of her mixed interactions with the growing Muslim population there. On the whole, her experience attests to the truth of D'Souza's proposition that there are some Muslims with whom the West should try to make common cause. Since registration is required to view this site, I have posted the entire article:

Islam Challenges Us in Ways We Don’t Expect

Joanna Bogle is asked to debate a Muslim who sees Britain as fertile ground for advancing his religion – and finds herself with prayer-fed prudence and courage she didn’t know she had.

BY Joanna Bogle

February 4-10, 2007 Issue

Posted 1/30/07 at 8:00 AM

A television studio can be a scary place. All the more so when the camera is trained on your face in a heated debate.

So I found out recently, when I was asked to bump heads, so to speak, with an Islamic spokesman. Islamic anger had been roused by events and then further stirred up by the media.

It is difficult for Americans to understand what it is like living in a country where there is a large, growing, confident Islamic presence in every major city. Imagine going to Mass past a baying mob thrusting aggressively anti-Catholic placards and hurling vicious insults at the Holy Father. Imagine learning later that the police will be taking no action — not even against those who publicly pledged to murder the Pope. Apparently such a threat doesn’t constitute a “hate crime” in modern Britain.

And yet there is another side to the picture. Two days after my TV encounter (more on that in a moment), I had another experience. Running late for a meeting in an unfamiliar part of London — and I do mean running in the literal sense — I asked a local resident for directions. “I need Peter Avenue,” I said. “Do you know where it is?” The kind stranger went to his car to consult a map. We were in a suburban maze of wriggling streets, all of which look alike. “Ah, here it is,” he said. “It’s not far away.” Then he looked at me and offered: “I’ll give you a lift.”

From earliest childhood we are taught to never, ever, accept a lift from a stranger. I started to say, “Oh, no, really, I …” — but something made me decide to accept. He was elderly, he was kind and he struck me as utterly sincere. Besides, it wasn’t like he’d been out cruising around. The car was parked outside his home and I’d stopped him on his way inside.

As we drove along, I explained that I was due at a Catholic church to give a talk on marriage preparation. “I think it’s a red-brick building,” I said. We spotted its tower and he pulled up in front. As I turned to thank him, he spoke with seriousness: “It is a great pleasure for me, as a Muslim, to help a Christian sister like you.” I was touched and, for a moment, couldn’t speak. I held out my hand. “Thank you,” I finally said. “And God bless you. God bless you.”

I told the incident to the young people at the marriage-prep group. They were delighted. Maybe even inspired.

Two days earlier, the TV interview had been difficult. It is so easy to be accused of being “anti-Islamic” or of having “Islamophobia.”

“We just want Pope Benedict to acknowledge that Muhammad is a prophet,” said the Islamic spokesman.

“He can’t do that,” I said. “He doesn’t think Muhammad is a prophet. Nor do I.”

As a Catholic, I can’t expect much sympathy for my faith in the mainstream media. The Church’s message on many issues is, here as in America, routinely attacked and denounced. In Europe, the emergence of Islam as a strong force gives us new pressures. What of the cross on our country’s flag? The granite crosses that mark our war memorials? All these offend Islam. Are we to tear them all down?

But there is a way forward: neighborly kindness, courtesy and mutual respect for one another’s dignity as human beings created by the one true God. And there are values that matter to both our religions. Devout Muslims share our disgust with pornography, for example, along with our exasperation over popular culture’s promotion of Godless lifestyles and other secularizing forces. And, oh yes: They pray.

So it is that I have lately been learning that, in today’s Britain, there are many opportunities to apply Pope John Paul’s exhortation to “Be not afraid.” And many ways to apply it, too.

Joanna Bogle writes from London.