Tuesday, April 24, 2007
"Fifteen states get failing grades on a first-of-its-kind report card assessing the legal representation provided to abused and neglected children as courts make potentially fateful decisions about whether to separate them from their families.
The report, being released at a Capitol Hill briefing Tuesday by the Washington-based child advocacy group First Star, is sharply critical of states which do not require all children in these proceedings to be represented by their own attorneys.
It also says more states should join the 17 that require lawyers in these cases to represent the child's expressed wishes and ensure that those preferences are heard in court.
''In these proceedings the family of a child can be created and or destroyed based on the determination by the court,'' the report says. ''And too often, the child, although most impacted by the court, has the least amount of input.''
Since 1974, Congress has required states to appoint a representative -- often known as a guardian ad litem -- for any child involved in abuse and neglect proceedings. However, states have interpreted the federal law in varying ways; the First Star report said 16 do not have statutes requiring that these children be represented by their own attorneys in all child-protection proceedings." Associate Press, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 4-24-97 NVS)
"New Hampshire’s governor said Thursday that he would sign a bill legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples.
For weeks, the governor, John Lynch, declined to express his views on the civil union bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives and is expected to be passed by the Senate next week. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats for the first time in more than a century.
The measure would make New Hampshire the fourth state to allow civil unions, following the lead of Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey. California allows domestic partnerships with benefits similar to civil unions. Massachusetts is the only state that allows same-sex marriage." By Pam Belluck, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 4-24-07 NVS)