The
Fatherhood

Coalition

Group aims to raise awareness of fathers' rights

By MARC ODATO Recorder Staff

The Recorder, Greenfield, Mass., Thursday, March I5, 2001


GREENFIELD - Members of a group advocating for fathers' rights staged a demonstration on Wednesday morning on the corner of Main and Federal streets.

The half dozen members of The Fatherhood Coalition endured the cold early morning rain and wore placards with messages like "Children Need Fathers," and "How many Dads and Kids Will Be Apart This Holiday?

"The Fatherhood Coalition is a statewide volunteer organization that seeks "to promote shared parenting and to end the discrimination and persecution faced by divorced and unwed fathers," particularly at the hands of the courts.

Dan Grubbs, the group's Franklin County chapter coordinator, said, "Kids go into court with two parents and come out with one."

Grubbs was a stay-at-home father who lost custody of his daughter. He cited this as an example of the sexism of the courts in child custody issues, since mothers typically get custody of their children.


Ashfield resident Jim Clarke said the purpose of the demonstration was "to make politicians aware that a father's involvement is as critical to a child's development as a mother's."

His placard, "Honk For Equal Parenting," drew numerous beeps from passing vehicles. According to the coalition's literature, custody is awarded in divorce cases to the mother 90 percent of the time.

Ashfield resident Jim Clarke said the purpose of the demonstration was "to make politicians aware that a father's involvement is as critical to a child's development as a mother's."

The group hopes that Massachusetts Senate Bill 613, An Act Relative to Strengthening Relationships Through Responsible Shared Parenting, will get the support of area legislators.

According to the protesters, the bill would promote joint legal and physical custody of children, rather than one parent having physical custody and the other visitation rights.

Mark Gilbert, who drove an hour from his Fitchburg home to attend the rally, said, "You visit prisons. You visit people in the hospital. You don't visit children."

SB13 is sponsored by Sen Stephen Brewer, D-Barre, and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Fatherhood Coalition was formed in 1993 by a group of non-custodial fathers in Arlington The group has since moved to Boston. The Franklin County chapter was formed in January of this year, and has 40 members. The group intends to keep holding rallies locally in support of its causes

You can reach Marc Odato at: modato@recorder.com


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