Family Values Conference-Continuing the Dialogue

What is a Family?

A Discussion of Family Values for the 1990's and Beyond

October 19 & 20, 1996

Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center

Madison Wisconsin

Presented by the

Madison Chapter

Of the

National Organization for Women

On October 19 and 20, 1996 Madison NOW will hold a second Family Values to discuss Family Values for the 1990's and beyond. Face-to-face dialogues break down stereotypes and lead to new awareness. In a recent public policy conference held in Austin, Texas, participants discussed threats to traditional families. At the beginning of the meeting, nearly two-thirds identified a lack of traditional values as the major issue of importance to families today. Following discussions with single parents with minimum-wage jobs, more than half the participants revised their major concern for families to be the economy. Topics for Madison NOW's conference include:

The Madison Chapter of the National Organization for Women invites you, and or organizations to which you may be involved, to co-sponsor a family values conference to discuss the question "What is a family?"

Madison NOW previously asked this question on November 12, 1994. At that time members of various groups sat with others who, initially, might have thought that there was no common ground between them. In the end, many of the attendees developed an understanding of their similar concerns for their children.

Father's Rights advocates along with Grandparents rights advocates and Feminists discussed custody issues from access to school records to visitation.

In 1994, we asked people to discuss the impact of law on poor families, mentioning, at the time, recent television coverage of families with bankrupting medical costs that led to divorce in order to meet government standards for medical assistance and other aid to families with children. We also asked if welfare laws put children in the position of losing contact with a parent and putting that parent in the position of having a state ordered obligation of financial support that might not be reasonably obtainable.

Governor Thompson advocates the national experiment with W-2

The movement led in Wisconsin by current Governor Thompson, described as W-2, has laudable goals. It conceivably seeks to use market conditions to improve the financial status of poor parents. An unanswered question for many, however, is: How will poor parents finance childcare and health care for themselves and their children? The Clinton campaign of 1992 and follow thru on health care might be some of the best discussion of health care needs by the media in many years, but, little has changed with regard to how we finance health care in the United States.

Recent press coverage of W-2 has asked questions as to whether W-2 will sabotage childcare by making minor cuts in middle class subsidies, but, also substantial cuts to low income parents. These cuts, it is argued will impact on the efficiencies of scale for licenced childcare providers and drastically impact the integration of children by income and increase the cost to provide for middle class families; not to mention, cause havoc to children in poor and other families.

New Ways of Looking at Families

In 1994 we also asked people to look at new ways of looking at partnerships. Since then, the Wisconsin Supreme Court stated that in Wisconsin a person who develops a parent-child relationship with a child, and subsequently, the legal or biological parent(s) denies contact, then that person has standing to bring actions for visitation and guardianship, it appears, at the very least.

The State of Wisconsin has canceled State Public Defender Spending for parents in cases of children in need of protection. This means that poor parents who need community assistance, often mothers and fathers who can barely afford rent, are unrepresented. Madison NOW asks, should we be concerned with investing in social services for families living on the edge?

Some feminists cite studies and state with great conviction that a presumption of joint parenting at divorce would be seriously detrimental to society. Others believe that shared parenting offers great opportunities by giving women time for work and moments without stress and shifts the male supply of earned labor into unremunerated domestic work. Madison NOW asks the question: How would shared parenting help or hinder the social welfare in the climate of W-2?

Does Wisconsin Protect its Children who have Multiple Parents?

It is not unusual for a child to have more than two parents. Children of divorce often have one or more step parent in addition to their natural parents. Children of paternity may have siblings who grew up with a non-biological parent and bonded to that parent.

Gay and lesbian parents now have limited legal protection to seek visitation and guardianship of a child to whom they have become bonded. It would seem self-evident that this precedent will also apply to non-biological fathers in paternity cases.

In an adoption case, the case of Angel Lace, however, some people believe that the Wisconsin Supreme Coout found that only the legislature can provide parents with the opportunity to become the full legal parent via adoption of a non-biological child. This would, of course, seem odd because that would mean minor children are expected to organize and finance a campaign to educate the legislature and the executive as to their position. Some say that this means divorced parents may not adopt the adopted or biological child of their spouse, unless they do so before they are divorced.

Please Join Us

The Madison Chapter of the National Organization for Women invites progressive-pro-child-minded adults to discuss the concept of Family Values in Wisconsin in the context of the above stated concerns.

On July 25, 1996, Madison NOW invites you, as an individual, or as a representative of a supportive organization, to meet and discuss, conducting a conference, prior to the 1996 election, for the purpose of asking the public, the media, and community leaders:

What Is A Family?

A question of Family Values for the 1990's and Beyond.

Click here to read the program for our last Family Values Conference.


List of Co-Sponsoring Groups and Speakers.

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