Thursday, February 21, 2013

Defend Your Right as a Parent!!


February 20, 2013
What's Going On?
This has been an extremely busy year so far for parental rights, though very few of you probably knew that. That’s because most states are not yet seeing that action, and the ones that are generally are not aware of activity going on in other states or at the federal level.

So what is going on?

For starters, parental rights bills have been introduced this year in several states, including Virginia, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas – and several other states are preparing to introduce similar measures in the weeks ahead.

Virginia’s HB1642 and SB908 have both traveled convoluted paths toward a final bill that no doubt will merge the two into one good parental rights law. Each started from the same draft, underwent amendments in both the House and Senate committees, and looks to protect “a [parent’s] fundamental right [to direct] the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.” There have been ups and downs in both houses, but we are very excited about where the bills are right now. (If you live in Virginia, we are asking you to call your state senator. Please see the alert here.)

Missouri’s HB513 also codifies the “fundamental right” of parents “to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their child.” It has been read twice in the House, and the House Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities held a hearing on it on February 19 (yesterday). They have not yet voted on it; that could come at any time.

Oklahoma’s HB1384 is also not far along in the process, but it passed the House Human Services Committee on Monday (February 18). From there it must go to the House floor, then on to the Senate. We will be sending out alerts asking for your calls at those important junctures.

In Kansas, a bill relating to the exercise of religion also includes strong protection for fundamental parental rights. In fact, HB2203 uses both the term “fundamental right” and a call for the “strict scrutiny” level of legal protection relative to parental rights. Although we cannot claim any credit for this bill, we fully support it for the sake of this provision. The bill had a hearing in the Committee on the Judiciary on Monday, February 18.

Meanwhile, in Indiana and Washington state, we are battling bills (SB171 andHB1506/HB1934, respectively) that would grant legal standing to persons outside the immediate family to sue parents for visitation rights of the parents’ children, against the wishes of the parent(s). (Washington: HB1934 is identical to HB1506, and we need your calls again. Please click here for the former alert and apply it to HB1506.)

Efforts are also under way to pass parental rights legislation in several other states. We will update you on those efforts as those bills are introduced.

Sadly, our effort to pass a parental rights bill in Mississippi was cut short. House Bill 496 was challenged on a technicality as being “improperly before the House,” because it did not reference laws on vaccination or child abuse. Under Mississippi law, a bill must specifically reference any existing laws that would be affected by passage of the bill. We contend that these laws would not be impacted, but opponents held otherwise, and the House lawyers sided with them. So the bill was struck without the benefit of a vote, over a difference of opinion in whether it would impact existing law.
What's Going on in Washington?
Meanwhile, we have been working on Capitol Hill to solidify our introduction strategy in both the U.S. House and Senate. The Senate is especially challenging with the departure of Sen. Jim DeMint, who understands our issue well and who has championed our efforts there for the last three sessions. His retirement has forced us to find a new cosponsor who, along with his or her staff, must be brought up to date on the latest developments in our quest to preserve parental rights through this Amendment.

Michael Farris had two encouraging meetings with potential champions last week. I hope to provide some very exciting details soon, so that we can all start to call our lawmakers and get them on board!
What About the CRPD?
While nothing is certain, we are preparing for the likelihood that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which would take away traditional parental rights from those who have disabilities or whose children have disabilities, will be brought up in the Senate again this year. It was narrowly defeated in December by a 61-38 vote (66 yea votes were needed for passage).

While our opponents are hoping it will be brought up again by early spring, we believe current issues before the Senate will delay it by a few more months. But we are not sitting idle. We are reworking our talking points and informative papers, and we are reaching out to groups who have been misled over the political nature of this treaty. There is no immediate threat, but there is an imminent threat – and we are busy working to defeat this danger once again.

Many of you have been waiting patiently for something to happen. Now you can see that a lot has already been happening. It may be that things will soon take off in your state, too. But please know that we appreciate your patience and your support alike.
What Can I Do?
While so much is going on behind the scenes, it is only a matter of time before parental rights becomes a highlighted issue again. In preparation for that, we are trying to double our petition list this year in order to double our voice. If you know anyone who has not yet signed our petition, please invite them to visitparentalrights.org/petition and sign up today. Or you can visit the same link and print out a paper petition, get your friends to sign, then mail it in.

To the same end, we are still promoting Facebook Fan February, with a goal of reaching 30,000 fans at facebook.com/parentalrights.org. If you are not already a fan, visit the page and click “Like.” If you are a fan, share it to your own timeline and encourage your friends to sign up, too.

Finally, please make a financial donation* to support us as we further all of these efforts. We do not receive government grants or large corporate sponsorships – we are dependent on parental rights heroes just like you to keep our movement alive.

Thank you for standing with us in the quiet times and when the fighting gets loud. I look forward to sharing many victories with you throughout this year!

Sincerely,

Michael Ramey
Director of Communications & Research

* Because ParentalRights.org is a 501(c)(4) lobbying organization, we regret that donations cannot be deductible for income tax purposes.

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