By Mike Franco, Chairman, The Fatherhood Coalition, September, 2003
The Fatherhood Coalition, as many of you know, is a nonprofit charitable organization. The officers and active members of our coalition throughout New England pride themselves on frontline advocacy for men and fathers who have been persecuted by the judiciary, associated departments and agencies as a result of sex discrimination against them. We help thousands of men each year in the region and across the nation.
Even though we are a charitable concern, we are not designed or funded to provide free legal aid, shelter or provide social work. However, we do offer a powerful network of people, and shared legal and life experiences. Whatever we have materially comes from private contributors -- individuals and companies that feel we bring a certain value to the community. Our philosophy is that we provide a “hand up… not a handout” and we “help those who can and will help themselves.” If we do not have the capacity or ability to help someone, we refer that person to someone or father-friendly entity that can help.
Single dads join the coalition because they have similar concerns and interests, which is primarily to seek more access and rights to their children. They often come to us with low self-esteem and morale as a result of being treated poorly by society, the system and the process, and dangerously powerful “players” within it. Right away we advise and coach them to stand up for themselves. We tell them not to let others insult them or denigrate their role as loving, nurturing parents. If a man himself does not demand respect and fair treatment, then it is not likely others will support or defend him for very long or perhaps at all.
As men, we must be patently aware that powerbrokers in and around the judiciary search for ways to quash any dissent you may express and those brokers will use ill-contrived methods to limit your access to your children. Most family court judges are not interested in you or your rights including equal protection under the law and due process of the law, and they are hardly concerned about the "best interests" of your kids. If they were, they would not, as a standard practice, systematically separate dads from their children.
The “best interest of the child” seems to translate into whatever is best for the state and themselves. Judges are most concerned about their jobs, pensions and preservation of the way they do business. The “interest” standard affords them the incorrigible "discretion" that protects them from being held accountable from incompetence and/or apathy, and those all too often bigoted and biased decisions. Judges and many of their “insider” friends and associates care mainly about themselves and the dollars they believe they are entitled to. They really do not care about you and your kids; ultimately and always, that is your job.
Some judges do not have children, and there are many who are divorced or single mothers who won custody of their children. And a few, because of nature or lifestyle choices, do not understand what it means to be a heterosexual, biological father, so there is almost no way they can empathize with you or the needs of your children. Occasionally, you may even come across a traditional conservative judge who believes that woman should be home with the children; again, not a good situation to be confronted with today because he or she will be lining you up for your duties as the typical “uncle dad” and “visitor with a checkbook.”
Of course, any public official or state actor who comes between you and your children without just cause is not worthy of your respect, but you still must stay cool, confident and professional while before them. By all means, exercise your Constitutional Rights to assemble and free speech in the public forum – peoples forums – such as hosting exhibits at fairs, parades and airshows, and organizing demonstrations like protests, rallies and vigils, which you should routinely attend on local, state and national state-sanctioned institutions.
And lastly, do not ever give up the fight for your children, because you, as the rightful citizen heir to the governmental process and natural bloodline to your offspring, will have the final say if you remain steadfast.