[Update: Scott Brown won the election and is now a US Senator. Fathers and Families is resolutely non-partisan and works with legislators on both sides of the aisle who sympathize with F & F’s primary goal of family court reform and protecting the loving bonds children share with both parents after divorce or separation. We congratulate Brown.]
The race to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat has become a national media story, as polls show that upstart Massachusetts Republican State Senator Scott Brown (pictured) has pulled even with favored Democratic Party candidate Martha Coakley, Massachusetts’ Attorney General. President Obama has come to Massachusetts to try to save the race for Coakley–this in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1.
Senator Brown has been a co-sponsor of Fathers & Families’ Shared Parenting Bill, has met with F & F Board Chairman Ned Holstein, MD, and has spoken at a F & F meeting. Dr. Holstein explains:
Our Shared Parenting Bill, which Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has publicly pledged to sign, would end the barbaric practice of judges stripping fathers (or sometimes mothers) of custody of their children without a sound, stated basis. Family courts must protect the relationship between children and both parents after a divorce, instead of allowing an angry mother (or father) to push the other parent out.
Fathers & Families recently circulated the message below to its Massachusetts members concerning some of Brown and Coakley’s positions, and we urge our members to vote on Tuesday, January 19.
Distinct Differences Among Senate Candidates
The three candidates hoping to fill the US Senate seat of the late Teddy Kennedy have distinctly different records on some of the issues of concern to Fathers and Families members. In alphabetical order, the candidates” records are given.
* Shared Parenting: As a member of the Massachusetts legislature for over five years, Senator Brown has clearly supported a presumption of shared parenting after divorce. In fact, he was a co-sponsor of Fathers and Families” HB 1460, a bill which calls for just such a presumption. As a child of divorce, he also has supported shared parenting in conversations with me. Members may recall that Brown spoke at a Fathers and Families meeting.
* Restraining Order Abuse: We are not aware that Senator Brown has taken any public position on the abuse of restraining orders.
* Gerald Amirault Parole: We are not aware that Senator Brown has taken any public position on this issue (see below for a description of this matter.)
* Shared Parenting: We are unaware that Attorney General Coakley has taken any position concerning shared parenting. We phoned her campaign headquarters requesting information, but so far have not received a return call. Should we receive a response, we will let you know as soon as possible.
* Restraining Order Abuse: Coakley has been a supporter of current restraining order policies as Middlesex County District Attorney from 1999 to 2007 and as Attorney General since 2007. She has also supported mandatory prosecution of restraining order violations, even when those violations are trivial, unintentional, or harmless.
I appeared on the Greater Boston television show with Coakley and hostess Emily Rooney, as well as a member of Fathers and Families who had been the victim of a questionable restraining order. His ex-wife had invaded his home without invitation and had begun rummaging through the contents. Our member called the police to have her escorted out. They did so, but our member ended up as the recipient of a restraining order for this incident. Coakley defended restraining order policies on the show, and did not acknowledge the need for any changes.
* Gerald Amirault Parole: Amirault was convicted of preposterous child sexual abuse charges in the 1980″s in the notorious Fells Acre Case. He was imprisoned for many years. In 2001, the Massachusetts Parole Board stated, “It is clearly a matter of public knowledge that, at the minimum, real and substantial doubt exists concerning petitioner”s conviction.’
Indeed, it is hard to know how anyone could be convicted of raping a young girl with a two-foot butcher knife without leaving any injuries, or of tying naked children to trees within view of a highway and visitors to the childcare center. But Coakley lobbied hard and persistently to keep Amirault in prison to avoid embarrassing the Middlesex County District Attorney”s office that had originally prosecuted him. As a result of her efforts, Amirault spent three more years in jail until he was finally paroled during the Romney administration. The Wall Street Journal recently criticized Coakley’s handling of Gerald Amirault’s parole here.
We are unaware of any public position by Mr. Kennedy on any of the three issues listed above. His campaign manager promised to ask Mr. Kennedy his positions, and we will report those if and when we get a response.
As a 501c3 charitable organization, Fathers and Families expresses no preference for one candidate over another. We do, however, urge you to vote on Tuesday, January 19, keeping in mind that there are many important issues on which to judge a candidate, not just those of concern to Fathers and Families.
See you at the polls Tuesday.
Together with you in the love of our children,
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Chair of the Board