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Sunday October 31, 1999
Imagine a world without men
For NOW, it's easy
By Kathleen Parker
You no longer have to read between the lines to divine
the National Organization for Women's agenda.
In a way it seems refreshingly simple: No Men.
That's the only conclusion one can draw upon reviewing
NOW's objections to proposed federal legislation,
popularly known as the "Fathers Count" bill (HR 3073).
The bill isn't exactly a mainstream father's dream.
Mostly, the bill creates programs to help unemployed
fathers find jobs so they can produce child
support for their welfare progeny. In fact,
men's-rights activists aren't wild about the bill,
saying that it addresses only the financial
responsibilities of fathers while ignoring pressing
(child access) concerns of fathers disenfranchised by
courts that favor mothers.
Still on Planet Deadbeat, it's better than nothing.
But NOW "really" doesn't like the bill because, well,
it seems helpful to men. The fact that helping men
might result ultimately in helping women and children
is irrelevant. Anything that purports to help men
is suspect. In the case of the Fathers Count bill,
NOW claims that it's unconstitutional.
Martha F. Davis, legal director for NOW's Legal Defense
and Education Fund, recently wrote the rollowing to
Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, chair of the subcommittee on
"Because they (the bill's authors) tie the federal
benefits available under the Act to gender (ie
"fathershood) these provisions violate the equal
protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment...."
At NOW's insistence, language has been added to the
"Fathers Count" bill so that mothers, expectant mothers
and married mothers are eligible for benefits and
services on the same basis as fathers, expectant fathers
and married fathers. Even so, NOW is callenging the
bill on its gender-constitutionality.
One could cast NOW's protest in a favorable light. They
just want to advance equality, right? But one would be
wrong. When it comes to legislation aimed only at
helping women, NOW forgets everything it knows about
the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment
to the Constitution.
For example, NOW issued no such protest to the grant
application kit for victim services under the Violence
Against Women Act Fund which specifically states:
"A VAWA-funded project may not use VAWA funds or
matching funds for projects that focus on children or
men." Selective constitutionality at its shameless
Then, in an astonishing show of its true colors, NOW
began protesting Vice President Gore's support the
"Fathers Count" bill pointing out that the bill
will funnel $150 million to "local and national
organizations, many of them likely to be fathers'
rights groups and right-wing (as opposed to left-wing)
In an e-mail alert, NOW urged its members to lobby Gore
to oppse the bill because, get this, the act would give
money to organizations that: "promote marriage; enhance
relationship skills; reach how to control aggressive
behavior;p promote successsful parejnting; train
parents in money management; encourage regular
visitaiton between fathers and children; help
fathers and their families avoid or leave welfare;
improve fathers'[ economic status" by providing work
services and education.
Well, hell's bells. Who'd want such a thing as that?
Successful marriage, responsible parenting, financial
independence? What we clearly need in this country are
more bad marriages, more bad parenting, more welfare
You have to wonder why anyone would find fault with a
government program that promotes the concept of people
looking after their own families, tryhing to get along.
You have to wonder, and then you remember: Follow the
NOW's livelihood depends on the perception of women as
Strengthening families and reinstating fatherhood
threatens that status and organizations that thrive on
Tribune Media Services
Kathleen Parker, an Orlando Sentinel columnist,
welcomes comments via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org