Thursday, May 24, 2007
"Mr. Nikpouri is one of an estimated 1.5 million legal immigrants in the United States who have been waiting as long as seven years to bring husbands, wives and small children to live with them. Instead of giving them new hope, a bipartisan compromise bill now under debate on the Senate floor would only make their plight worse, senators, lawyers and immigrants said yesterday.
While the bill’s supporters say it would put legal immigrants ahead of illegal ones, immigrant advocacy groups and lawyers who have studied the measure say it is a minefield for those who have been waiting for years in the bureaucratic labyrinths of the immigration system. If the bill passes, they said, millions of foreigners already in the legal pipeline could face even longer waits than they do now.
For future immigrants, priorities would shift to favor those with specialized job skills, higher education levels and English language ability over the family ties that have been the foundation of the system for four decades, making it even more difficult for relatives to immigrate.
Supporters of the bill, including the White House, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, and Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican, say it would help aspiring legal immigrants by eliminating the backlog of about four million visa applications within eight years. A total of 440,000 green cards — as visas for legal permanent residents are known — will be set aside during each of the eight years to reduce the backlog. But by a quirk of the bill, legal immigrants who are seeking to bring spouses would be left out of the backlog reduction and the number of visas allotted to them would be slightly reduced."
By Julia Preston, N.Y. Times Link to Article
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
"Last summer, three weeks before her due date, Sari Edber delivered a stillborn son, Jacob. “He was 5 pounds and 19 inches, absolutely beautiful, with my olive complexion, my husband’s curly hair, long fingers and toes, chubby cheeks and a perfect button nose,” she said.
The sudden shift from what she called “a perfectly wonderful healthy pregnancy” to delivering a dead infant was unfathomably painful, said Ms. Edber, 27, who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Daniel.
“The experience of giving birth and death at the exact same time is something you don’t understand unless you’ve gone through it,” Ms. Edber said. “The day before I was released from the hospital, the doctor came in with the paperwork for a fetal death certificate, and said, ‘I’m sorry, but this is the only document you’ll receive.’ In my heart, it didn’t make sense. I was in labor. I pushed, I had stitches, my breast milk came in, just like any other mother. And we deserved more than a death certificate.”
So Ms. Edber joined with others who had experienced stillbirth to push California legislators to pass a bill allowing parents to receive a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth.
In the last six years, 19 states, including New Jersey, have enacted laws allowing parents who have had stillbirths to get such certificates. Similar legislation is under consideration in several more, among them New York. More than 25,000 pregnancies a year end in stillbirth, generally defined as a naturally occurring, unintentional intrauterine death after more than 20 weeks of gestation. A cause for the death is usually not determined."
By Tamar Lewin, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 5-22-07 NVS)
Sunday, May 20, 2007
"WHEN the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” little did she know that a century and a half later the list would extend into the thousands — at least for married couples. As of 2005, the Government Accounting Office had identified more than 1,000 legal rights and responsibilities attendant to marriage. The era of big government is clearly not over when it comes to family policy.
These range from the continuation of water rights upon the death of a spouse to the ability to take funeral leave. And that’s just the federal government. States and localities have their own marriage provisions. New York State, for example, grants a spouse the right to inherit a military veteran’s peddler’s license. Hawaii extends to spouses of residents its lower in-state fees for hunting licenses.
No wonder gay and lesbian activists put such a premium on access to marriage rights. Some gay marriage advocates want all spousal rights immediately and will settle for nothing less. Others take an incremental approach, aiming to secure first the most significant domestic partner rights, like employer benefits.
But rather than argue about whether gay or lesbian couples should be allowed to tie the knot, or be granted any marital rights at all, perhaps it is time to do an end run around the culture wars by unbundling the marriage contract into its constituent parts. Then, applying free-market principles, we could allow each citizen to assign the various rights and responsibilities now connected to marriage as he or she sees fit." Dalton conleyl, OpEd Contributor, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 5-20-07 NVS)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
"One girl said she started living on the streets after her mother beat her for dressing like a boy. Another said she ran away from home after her father pulled a gun on her for hanging around with so many “tomboys.” A third said she left home after a family acquaintance raped her because she was a lesbian and he wanted to “straighten her out.” But gathered at Ruth’s House, a 10-bed emergency shelter for gay homeless youths here in east Detroit, they all said that for the first time they felt safe.
Ruth’s House is one of a small number of shelters for gay youths that have opened around the nation in the past four years, reflecting an increasing awareness among child welfare advocates of the disproportionately high number of gay youths in the homeless population and the special problems they face.
Five years ago, such shelters were rare, but now there are more than 25 nationwide."
By Ian Urbina, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 5-17-07 NVS)
Monday, May 14, 2007
"Connecticut's civil unions for same-sex couples are inferior to marriage and violate their rights to equal protection and due process, an attorney for eight gay couples told the state Supreme Court Monday.
The couples want the court to rule that the state's marriage law is unconstitutional because it applies only to heterosexual couples, effectively denying gay couples the financial, social and emotional benefits of marriage.
"What is denied to these families is something that goes to the heart of equal protection, which is the right to be part of the fabric of society when they are just the same as other couples and other families," said their attorney, Bennett Klein.
Connecticut was the first state to allow civil unions without court pressure, but the lawsuit raises questions of whether the 2005 law helped or hurt same-sex couples in their quest for equality.
As several states consider civil union laws, the Connecticut case could have nationwide implications. Both sides said Monday they are aware of its significance."
By Stephanie Reitz, AP, Chron.com Link to Article (last visited 5-14-07 NVS)
Friday, May 11, 2007
Case Law Development: Governor's Clemency for Women who Murder Their Batterers Must Be Respected By Board of Probation and Parole
In the culmination of a nine-year process involving a statewide coalition of law schools and advocates for battered women, two women in MIssouri were released from prison recently. Shirley Lute, 76, has been imprisoned since 1981. She was the oldest female inmate in a missouri prison. She was convicted of aiding her son in killing her husband, Melvin, who physically tortured and mentally tormented her. Lynda Branch, 54, was convicted of shooting her husband, Raymond, in 1986; she contends she got control of the gun only after her husband threatened to shoot her and her daughter. Both women were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for at least 50 years, but Gov. Bob Holden commuted their terms in late 2004, just before he left office, making them immediately eligible for parole. However, the Board of Probation and Parole refused to grant them release, saying that "would depreciate the seriousness" of their crimes.
The Supreme Court ordered the board to reconsider, stating that:
The board erred in reconsidering the circumstances surrounding the women's offenses in denying them parole, as the governor already had considered these factors in deciding to commute their sentences. Because article IV, section 7 of the Missouri Constitution grants to the governor the sole authority to commute criminal sentences at his discretion, the board must follow the governor's orders. In interpreting the governor's commutations, this Court must give effect to his intent; because the governor is the sole author, only his intent is relevant. Further, the courts long have held that the governor's power to grant commutation is a mere matter of grace that the governor can exercise on the conditions and with the limitations he thinks proper. Here, both commutations explicitly stated the governor had examined the women's applications and the relevant facts in deciding to make them eligible for parole.
Read the court opinion (last visited May 11, 2007 bgf)
A group of law students from the four MIssouri law schools involved in this process wrote an article about the process. See, Bridget B. Romero, Jennifer Collins, Carrie Johnson, Jennifer Merrigan, Lynn Perkins, Judith Sznyter, and Lisa Dale, Deconstructing The "Image" Of The Battered Woman: The Missouri Battered Women's Clemency Coalition: A Collaborative Effort In Justice For Eleven Missouri Women, 23 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 193 (2004).
The New York Times reports that the national per capita divorce rate has declined steadily since its peak in 1981 and is now at its lowest level since 1970. The article points out that experts disagree asto the cause. Some experts say relationships are as unstable as ever -- and divorces are down primarily because more couples live together without marrying. Other researchers have documented what they call ''the divorce divide,'' contending that divorce rates are indeed falling substantively among college-educated couples but not among less-affluent, less-educated couples.
Read the article (last visited May 11, 2007 bgf)
Thursday, May 10, 2007
"A sperm donor who helped a lesbian couple conceive two children is liable for child support under a state appellate court ruling that a legal expert believes might be the first of its kind in the U.S.
A Superior Court panel last week ordered a Dauphin County judge to establish how much Carl L. Frampton Jr. would have to pay to the birth mother of the 8-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl.
"I'm unaware of any other state appellate court that has found that a child has, simultaneously, three adults who are financially obligated to the child's support and are also entitled to visitation," said New York Law School professor Arthur S. Leonard, an expert on sexuality and the law."
Associated Press Link to Article (last visited 5-10-07 NVS)
"The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) is offering two training programs for professionals who work with high-conflict families in June at the Loyola Law Center in Chicago, IL. Joan B. Kelly, Ph.D., will present Parenting Coordination: Helping High Conflict Parents Resolve Disputes, June 18-19, 2007 and Christine Coates, M.Ed., J.D. will present Advanced Issues for Family Mediators: Beyond the Forty-Hour Training, June 20-21, 2007.
Each training program is eligible for 12 CE hours for psychologists and both trainings are pending approval by the Illinois MCLE Board for 12 CLE credits. A block of rooms has been secured at the Seneca Hotel & Suites (Hotel Website), just a block from Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile district. The hotel is less than a five minute walk from the Loyola Law Center. For reservations, call (800) 800-6261 and ask for the special rate of $179 for a Deluxe Suite with King bed or $199 for a Deluxe Suite with two Queen beds per night." By AFCC
"The Minnesota Supreme Court today affirmed a district judge's decision granting visitation rights to the former partner of a woman who adopted two children. However, the court also concluded the district judge should not have ordered one of the women to attend counseling.
Marilyn Johnson and Nancy SooHoo, a Minneapolis couple, broke up in 2003 after 22 years together. During their relationship, Johnson adopted two children from China, but records indicate the two women co-parented the children, the Supreme Court ruling said." By Nancy Yang, Pioneer Press, TwinCities,com Link to Article (last visited 5-10-07 NVS)
Sunday, May 6, 2007
"Great spellers come in all types, from egotistical showoffs to loners who find sanctuary in the forest of words. Kunal Sah, a 13-year-old eighth-grader, is an angry speller. He lives with his uncle and aunt at the Ramada Limited Motel in this tough former railroad town in eastern Utah. Kunal is making himself into a great speller by way of unhappiness and the immense pressure he feels to reunite his family, which was blown across two continents when his parents were sent back to India last year after being denied political asylum.
He said he cried every day after his parents left, then as the spelling bee season started and he began winning — ultimately reaching the regional competition and becoming one of three students from Utah who will be going to Washington at the end of this month for the Scripps National Spelling Bee — he began to put his frustration into words. Capturing the spotlight at the bee, he said, could draw attention to his parents’ case." By Kirk Johnson, N.Y. Times
Link to Article (last visited 6-5-07 NVS)
Friday, May 4, 2007
"When George W. Bush was running for president in 2000 as a new kind of Republican — the caring kind — he had a ready answer for those skeptical of his moderate views on immigration. “Family values do not stop at the Rio Grande,” he said, again and again. He was standing up for immigrants who come here seeking better lives for their children, and he repeated the message so often that it stuck.
Now, like so much else in Mr. Bush’s tattered slogan file, it’s in danger of coming unstuck. Negotiators struggling to draft an immigration bill in Washington are being pressured by the White House and Republican leaders to gut the provisions of the law that promote the unity of immigrant families in favor of strictly employment-based programs.
Details are still being sweated out in private, but a draft proposal circulated by the White House and the G.O.P. would eliminate or severely restrict whole categories of family-based immigration in favor of a system that would assign potential immigrants points based on age, skills, education, income and other factors. Citizens would no longer be able to sponsor siblings and children over 21, and their ability to bring in parents would be severely limited."
N.Y. Times Editorial Link to Editorial (last visited 5-4-07 NVS)
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
"Police in India have rescued a 40-year-old woman who was imprisoned by her in-laws in a dingy room for 15 years because she could not pay enough dowry. Police said the woman, Madhavi Das, was naked and locked in the room when policemen broke in with help from neighbors on Saturday.
"She was admitted in a mental asylum as years of solitary confinement has taken a toll on her sanity," Siddhi Nath Gupta, a senior police officer, said on Sunday. Three members of the family, including her husband, were arrested." Reuters, Washingtonpost.com Link to Article (last visited 5-1-07 NVS)