Sunday, June 26, 2011

NEARLY BORN ON THE 4TH OF JULY: Same-Sex Marriage Passes in NY

June 26, 2011


We stand at an historic point in time where traditional notions of “marriage” have changed in the State of New York. We are the largest State to have enacted same-sex marriage legislation and by virtue of our proximity to other States which have enacted similar laws, this renovation of thought and acceptance has the ability to “procreate”.  Same-sex couples may now marry and claim their entitlement to their unalienable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” just as is provided in that most venerated of Declarations signed on July 4, 1776.

I have previously written and lectured on this issue. (See i.e.- “Same-Sex Marriage: Right to Divorce, But Not To Marry?", New York Law Journal, March 2008). Where New York was recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages, it created not only a basic inequity to our own citizens, but in essence a farcical one. Those whose foreign same-sex marriages were recognized here, could then be divorced here. I then wrote that if one takes the position that marriage was the more “noble” state of being, and same sex-couples married out of state could legally divorce here, they must be afforded the ability to marry here and avail themselves of all which the more noble state of marriage provides.

The enactment of the “Marriage Equality Act” – approved by the full Legislature on Friday night and signed by the Governor shortly thereafter– provides equality to all on one hand and protects religious freedom on the other. We have then demonstrated the greatness of our system where, in essence, the rights of two minorities are protected and the whole is enhanced. Moreover, the right thing has been done.

In changing his thought process after running on an anti-same-sex marriage position, Republican Senator Mark Grisanti spoke his heart and mind stating:  “I would not respect myself if I didn’t do the research, have an open mind, and make a decision — an informed decision — based on the information before me. A man can be wiser today than yesterday, but there will be no respect for that man if he’s failed in his duty to do the work. I cannot legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage. Who am I to say that someone does not have the same rights that I have with my wife, who I love, or to have the 1300+ rights that I share with her? […] I cannot deny that right and opportunity for someone, nor stand in the way for them to obtain the rights that I have. […] I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, people in my district and across this state — the state of New York — and those people who make this the great state it is, the same rights that I have with my wife.”

As we readily approach another 4th of July, we understand that both “separate and equal” and “separate, but not quite equal”–  are wrong. So for those who spoke their minds honestly and to those who now have the same right to share their lives as wedded couples,  we should all be proud.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011



Let me start by getting it all out of my system-- WINNING!!

That felt good. My tiger blood and napalm searing brain is charged up! 

FASTBALL!: Charlie Sheen's warlockian battles and rants have hit the airwaves, twitter world, and lexicon. That being said, his child custody issues, both with his present wife and ex- wife, have been profoundly affected by his media blitz. While present spouse Brooke Mueller, and ex, Denise Richards, have had their drug issues (Mueller) and sexcapades (Richards), respectively, in the public eye, Mr. Sheen's behavior has overshadowed all.  What then has this done to his parenting rights, particularly as his sons with Ms. Mueller were very openly broadcast being removed from his home even while Ms. Mueller was going in and out of rehab?  

As of the writing of this post, Mr. Sheen is not in rehab, not in jail, and I believe not presently charged with any crime. Until he was suspended from “Two And A Half Men”- in what appears to be a hypocritical money grab; he was (even after his many publicized issues with women and drugs) the highest paid actor on the highest rated network TV show, consistently rewarded for his performance. To the contrary, Ms. Mueller, who had supposedly just gone on vacation with Sheen and at least one of his “goddesses”, is reportedly in a day treatment facility for addiction and has had her mother flown in to assist with the children.

Should the rantings of someone who has been a successful emoter for most of his life provide such shock, given his history and the behavior of many such public figures who parade themselves in front of the tabloid media, reality TV, and otherwise? Can children be raised in such environs without suffering?  Given the extent to which "normalcy" is attenuated in these “celebrity” cases, the issue of what is a "normal" upbringing to society at large and to judges who hear there cases, is challenged.  A different standard then emerges. Even so, it would appear that Mr. Sheen as a father, has an uphill battle against his present substance challenged wife who had the children removed from Mr. Sheen's home on an "ex parte" (without advance notice) application and has not seen the children since as a result.

This post in essence is, then, not really about Charlie Sheen, but about the still existing general perception that women are more suitable custodial parents than men. 

A real-life, but unfortunately typical recent example:

Father has, what used to be called “visitation”, now “parenting time”, under a court order resulting from an agreement. Father is later married, has two other children, lives out in the suburbs, and is a career professional. He agrees to travel every other weekend to pick up his son from the mother who lives three counties away.  She repeatedly fails to provide the child to him and after he makes several petitions to the court, she counters by claiming the six year old child is afraid of him and that he hits the child.  She takes the child to school where “coincidentally”, in front of school officials the child begins yelling in words or substance, “Don’t make me go to my daddy, he hits me, I am afraid.’ The Father is nowhere around, the child was returned the day before after having a pleasant weekend with the Father, his wife, and the child’s two young half-siblings. As a result of this incident, the Mother takes the child to a doctor—not the child’s regular pediatrician—who says bruises on the child “may” have been caused by the Father based on what the “child” told him. Child Protective Serves gets involved to investigate, but not before the Mother files an ex parte application to the court on these allegations, and has the Father’s parenting time suspended. After two months, the CPS report comes back finding they do not believe the child, and that school officials have been telling the Mother for two years that she should have the child in therapy, but she has refused. The judge tells the parties that the suspension is lifted and that it does not appear that parenting time should have been suspended in the first place. The court also tells the Mother that parenting time is to re-commence immediately. That does not occur.

The Child is withheld for another two months and the Father’s violation petitions are not heard by the court. Another application is brought by the Father for contempt and a change in custody. The Mother changes lawyers but is told by a new judge that the order is in place for the Father’s parenting time. That directive is ignored. The next court date, the court is informed that there has been non-compliance and that it is now four months that the Father has not seen the Child and vice versa. The “child’s attorney” says they need therapeutic visitation to repair the relationship between the Father and the child who says he is “afraid”. The six year old refers to the Father by his first name. It is demanded that this behavior not be tolerated; that the six year old doesn’t get to determine when he goes to the Father; that the Mother needs to be read the riot act; that the Father should have each and every full weekend with the Child to make up for lost time until the next court date which is a month away—even if the Child is kicking and screaming. This is the Mother’s doing.

The court states that it believes the Mother is simply refusing to comply with the court’s order. The result: the court modifies the order so that the Father gets the child every weekend until the next court date, BUT—not for his regular Friday to Sunday time. Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.—in effect, less time that he is entitled to and over objection.  If the situation was reversed and the Father was not giving the Mother her allocated time or was not paying child support (which he still is), would this behavior been met with such a light touch and less time? And has the “child centric” view of the world, where six year olds get to determine what they and the adults are required to do, gone haywire?


I don’t think so.

Author’s note: If Charlie Sheen or any of the other persons referenced herein have comment on my opinion, I can be reached at the gnarly galaxy known as the blog address set forth. Go down past the trolls and make a left at the Adonis DNA stand.