Houston, TX–I’ve been very critical of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (pictured) and his child support enforcement operation in the past, and they’ve deserved every word of it. To learn more, see my co-authored column When Beating up on ‘Deadbeat Dads’ is Unfair (Houston Chronicle, 1/7/07) or click here.
However, I do like to commend opponents when they do the right thing, and here’s an example. Jim, a Texas reader, told me this story the other day and I asked him to write it up for a blog post.
In 2004, the Texas Attorney General had anti-father propaganda on their website such as this definition:
A legal reason for which a Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipient is excused from cooperating with the child support enforcement process, such as past physical harm by the child’s father. It also includes situations where rape or incest resulted in the conception of the child and situations where the mother is considering placing the child for adoption.
I pointed out to the OAG’s office that this could also be a father who has good cause due to past physical harm by the child’s mother. Why not say child’s other parent?
Upon calling, I was told that this was just an example, so it doesn”t harm anyone. Instead of showing my frustration, I calmly discussed the harm that negative stereotypes have had to other groups in the past. I also pointed out that if the Texas OAG is discriminatory against men and guilty of gender bias, then men will never be treated as equal parents in a Texas courtroom.
After discussing this and emailing, I received the following email:
I circulated your comment among our child support staff, and everyone agrees that you are right. Thanks for pointing that out, and we’ll get it changed this morning.
Elizabeth Buhmann, Director
Public Information and Assistance
Office of the Texas Attorney General
The next day, they actually changed their site and took out negative references against fathers. My thanks to Elizabeth and her staff for fixing this after it was pointed out.