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
Presented by 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 impact of current proposals to change welfare;
- What role should fathers play in the lives of children?
- What should be the role of significant psychological parents?
- New proposals for family law reform;
- The impact of recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions including:
- The impact of cases which affect the right of a non parent to adopt a child after
entering into a shared parenting arrangement with the legal parent, or otherwise.
- The Court's giving "standing" (recognition of a legal right) to a same sex partner
to sue for visitation with the child the couple had raised together prior to the
breakup of the relationship.
- Giving standing for visitation to those in non-marital heterosexual partnerships
times when their relationships dissolve.
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
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
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
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
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
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