Safe Haven Laws are not Just for Teens

A story about the abandonment an unwanted baby is one of the saddest and heartbreaking stories one can read in the news. While most people think of that the women who leave their children on the side of a road, in a toilet bowl, or even a public restroom are teenage mothers who cannot handle the responsibility of motherhood, a New York Times article has published that the most common factor is the simple desire to hide a pregnancy. The article examines and praises an organization, Save Abandoned Babies Foundation, in Illinois which worked to enact legislation in 2001 regarding abandoned infants which has successfully brought sixty-nine babies to safe places.  The 2001 legislation is a Safe Haven Law: it allows mothers to bring unwanted newborns to firehouses, police stations, and hospitals without fear of prosecution so long as the baby is unharmed and the drop off is within thirty days of the child’s birth.  The Foundation then finds adoptive families to care for the children rather than them being placed in the state foster care system.  Many states have Safe Haven Laws like the one adopted in Illinois.  It is a tragedy that children are still being abandoned and left to die when there are so many places where the child can be taken without repercussion.  In New York, the Abandoned Infant Protection Act serves to provide mothers a safe place to bring the child, give up parental rights without questions asked.  It is a win-win situation; the fearful mother is relieved of the responsibility and the child is given to a loving family who is ready and able to care for the child.… <Read More>

Are Jobs at Risk Due to Passage of Gay Marriage in New York?

The public’s reaction to the passage of Gay Marriage bill in New York in July 2011 was filled with emotions across the board.  Many were thrilled, many were annoyed, and others were indifferent because it did not affect their lives.  While the state made it legal for same sex couples to enjoy the privileges of marriage, the law does not required any individual to sign the marriage licenses for these couples.  Why, then, are town clerks in upstate New York being threatened with lawsuits?

In Ledyard, NY a town clerk is being bullied over her refusal to sign gay marriage licenses.  Same sex couples are still free to be married in this town; the only different is that and the actual licenses will be signed by a deputy instead of the town clerk.  The clerk explains her actions as simply standing up for what she believes in… she claims that she is not discriminating against anyone because she has relieved herself of all duties regarding the signing of marriage licenses.  She does not sign licenses to heterosexual couples as a matter of equality.  Her decision is a matter of religious freedom and she believes she is doing nothing wrong.  The town clerks are not stopping the marriages and they are not disallowing the license to be signed.  They simply will not sign the license themselves due to their religious beliefs.  So why do the couples care that the individual clerk won’t sign the piece of paper? Should the clerk be forced to sign the license or risk forced resignation or a lawsuit?… <Read More>

New York Falls Behind

New York is considered to be one of the most progressive states. With its great influence in culture, fashion, and even the law it comes as a surprise that it will soon stand alone as the only state to prosecute sixteen year old offenders as adults.  The New York Penal Law marks the age of criminal responsibility at age sixteen, therefore automatically processing these young offenders in the adult court system and tagging them with a criminal record for life.  Research has found that by doing so, these juveniles who are often only committing minor crimes end up re-offending faster and at higher rates than similar juveniles processed through the Family Court System in other jurisdictions.  New York became tough on crime in the late 1970s and believed that by prosecuting juveniles as adults it would scare them out of committing crimes…but the evidence goes against the intended goals.  With a system that is failing both the community and the juveniles, isn’t it time for New York to admit defeat? In December 2009, past Governor David Paterson created a Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice.  He laid out several recommendations and strategies that will better serve the juvenile while he is making up for his wrongful actions. The recommendations include keeping kids closer to home, ensuring successful re-entry into society, and providing the necessary skills and tools for success.  These strategies will rehabilitate the juvenile and put him on the proper track, thereby protecting the community in the long run.  With the plan set forth by Paterson, it is now up to the legislators and policy groups to initiate and enforce these changes so we can all live in  a better and safer New York.… <Read More>

Dangers of Social Media Sites

We are all well aware that whatever information we put on the internet is out there for the world to see.  Even our social media sites like Facebook can harm us if we are not careful what information is posted.  It has been made public knowledge that employers can and often do look  up prospective employees to see their behavior before hiring.   But did you know that lawyers, particularly divorce lawyers, use the site to find “dirt” on the opposing side?  According to the NY Times divorce lawyers use the social media sites to find evidence of misbehavior by their client’s spouses.   “It has changed the way we do business,” said Gary L. Nickelson, a matrimonial lawyer in Fort Worth. “Before, we would hire private investigators, have opposing spouses followed, try to interview acquaintances and friends. We would strive forever to get evidence, and now people can’t wait to post on MySpace or Facebook who they are out drinking with. We just come along and scoop that up.” Have a drink with your friends on a Friday night while in the middle of a legal action? It seems that your best bet is to keep your status and pictures clean and conservative.… <Read More>

Marriage Rights

The  discussion about marriage rights in the United States is revolved around whether two members of the same sex can be legally married.  The Federal Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA , defines marriage as only a legal union between one man and one woman.  This regulation only defines a legal marriage in terms of federal law.  Each state is allowed to decide on their own terms what “marriage” means and who is allowed to be married.  But what about trans-gender marriages?

A New York City trans-gender couple was married in March 2011, establishing a new written policy for the state of New York.  This unidentified couple consists of a male-to- female trans-gender person and a female-to-male trans-gender person.  Should it matter the sex of the person when they were born or when they wish to be married?

Trans-gender organizations such as the Transgender Law Center, Transgender Law and Policy Institute, and the National Center for Trans-gender equality put together a frequently asked questions pamphlet to answer concerns regarding how the Family Marriage Act would have effected trans-gender persons who wished to marry.  Although that Act did not pass in Congress, the questions are similar since the DOMA is in full effect.… <Read More>