Update on Fathers & Families Shared Parenting Bill

Fathers & Families’ Shared Parenting Bill HB 1400 will be heard this coming Thursday (9/17). Massachusetts is one of the worst states in the country for shared parenting and for fathers, but Fathers & Families has nevertheless made considerable progress there. This includes:

Over one-quarter of the Massachusetts Legislature has expressed clear, public support for Fathers & Families’ Shared Parenting Bill, many of them signing on as co-sponsors.

Fathers & Families gathered thousands of signatures to place shared parenting on the 2004 Massachusetts ballot and led a successful campaign for its passage, winning 86% of the vote.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick told the Legislature that if they pass Fathers & Families’ Shared Parenting, he will sign it.

Fathers & Families recently met with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick concerning Shared Parenting and related topics.

Fathers & Families persuaded the Boston Globe to become first major newspaper in the United States to endorse Shared Parenting in principle in an editorial (Feb 23, 2008).

Fathers & Families pushed “Shared Parenting ‘ to the number one issue on the Massachusetts Governor”s website for citizen input.

Fathers & Families ignited a debate in the Massachusetts Democratic Party over Shared Parenting , leading to a spirited, 40 minute debate on the floor of the 2009 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention and winning 40% of the Convention’s vote.

Many of our members have expressed interest in attending the September 17 hearing. Fathers & Families will be well represented at the hearing. This is not the optimal place for a mass turnout (see postscript), but all are of course welcome to come.

The bill will not be voted on for a few months-–in the interim period we will launch a legislative education campaign. We will want your participation in this campaign and will be releasing the details on how you can participate in coming weeks. Save your time and energy for the post-hearing campaign!

Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Founder and Chair of the Board

Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director

PS from Dr. Holstein—The hearing Thursday is a formality, such as the requirement that a candidate for office obtain 1,000 signatures to run for office. It doesn’t put the candidate closer to election by getting 5,000 instead of 1,000  — it’s the same effect for either.

The hearing, likewise, is a formal procedure where they want to see which organizations are for a bill, and which are against. They don’t care about a body count. It doesn’t hurt to have more, but it also doesn’t help. This is what I have observed, and also what I have been advised by every person I have ever consulted who is knowledgeable about how Beacon Hill works.

Since it will almost certainly be a LONG afternoon, with hours of waiting (we had to stay until midnight to be heard some years back), and since speakers are limited to 3 minutes, it may not be the best use of people’s time.  I’d rather they used that time and energy later on, when we turn up the heat.

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