“In my state I do not recall a circumstance…where a law of this kind interfered with the rights of a parent in a way that seemed like it was out of keeping, but if you”re familiar with such, let us know.’–presidential candidate Mitt Romney
We’ve often discussed the way restraining/protection orders based on false allegations of domestic violence are frequently used to separate fathers from their children. At a recent New Hampshire gathering, fatherhood activist Richard Smaglick asked presidential candidate Mitt Romney about the problem.
In response, Romney, who was governor of Massachusetts from 2003-2007, said that he could not recall a circumstance where such a thing had occurred, but said, “If you”re familiar with such, let us know.”
We appreciated Romney’s offer, and decided to take him up on it. We only had a couple of days to act, since it is widely believed that Romney will drop out of the presidential race if he is not successful in Michigan’s primary, which is Tuesday, January 15. Ned Holstein, Executive Director of Fathers & Families, put out an email asking for cases, and I posted my Call to Action! Romney Asks for Cases of Falsely Accused Fathers on Thursday. Your response was overwhelming, and on short notice we collected 300 cases to present to Romney.
Holstein, as he pledged to do, delivered the letters to Romney personally and publicly at the crowded “Romney for President/Change Begins With Us Victory Stop” at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield [Detroit] on Sunday. Holstein, Smaglick, and others also spent considerable time detailing the issue to a prominent journalist–we’ll let you know when the story comes out.
Thanks to Jim Semerad of Dads and Moms of Michigan, the very active American Coalition for Fathers & Children Michigan affiliate, Richard Smaglick of www.fathersandhusbands.org, Lary Holland of Family Court Reports, and others for their invaluable assistance.
When Smaglick first asked Romney about fathers being victimized by false domestic violence claims last week, Romney not only said that he was not aware of any fathers being unfairly separated from their children, but that he was “not familiar” with the Violence Against Women Act. He has since come under fire for this from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the American Civil Liberties Union, Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post, and numerous feminist bloggers.
Rita Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, also criticized the fatherhood movement, saying:
“The continual use of some men’s groups to spout bogus facts and statistics is a problem we need to correct…[the idea] that men are falsely accused of domestic violence and lose contact with their children unjustly as a result…is not accurate…just the opposite is true.”
VAWA funds many of the services which help women obtain restraining orders against their husbands, but there is little judicial oversight of these orders, and they are frequently misused. Women need and deserve protection from abusive husbands, but restraining orders are often used as custody maneuvers in divorce–as swords, not as shields. The California State Bar”s Family Law News recently explained:
“Protective orders are increasingly being used in family law cases to help one side jockey for an advantage in child custody…[the orders are] almost routinely issued by the court in family law proceedings even when there is relatively meager evidence and usually without notice to the restrained person.’
In other presidential campaign-related activism, according to the Michigan shared parenting group A Child’s Right:
“A Child’s Right made sure to inject the fatherhood issue during a Mitt Romney Rally in Battle Creek, Michigan [on Saturday]. Darrick Scott-Farnsworth, Angela Pedersen and Robert Pedersen were able to get the Governor’s ear on fatherhood issues. Robert Pedersen spoke with Mitt about VAWA and Fatherhood Issues. Robert’s sweatshirt ‘Kids Still Need Both Parents’ caught Mitt Romney’s eye and he spoke about the issue on two different occasions…After the rally, A Child’s Right spoke with several other elected officials that were present.”