April 27, 2016
By Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Founder and Acting Executive Director, National Parents Organization
Some of our members think we lost when SB 668 in Florida, a good alimony and shared parenting bill, was vetoed by Republican Governor Rick Scott.
They are wrong. We simply took another step toward winning.
Here’s how you can tell when a social movement is on the road to victory:
- The Legislature passed alimony reform and shared parenting not once, but twice by healthy margins.
- Like most US men and women, Floridians overwhelmingly support shared parenting as the usual outcome if both parents are fit. They demonstrated this with thousands of emails, calls and letters in support of SB 668. Calls to the Governor’s office ran five to one in favor.
- Several major newspapers ran our op-eds in support of the bill.
- Our Tallahassee rally was bigger than the bad guys’ rally. And, we made it into the Governor’s anteroom with enthusiasm, signs and balloons. (see photo) I can guarantee you that the Mandatory Pants-For-Dogs Association, for instance, has never made it into the Governor’s anteroom.
- The actual research evidence for what is best for children grows stronger and stronger each day for shared parenting. (See related article below.) Opponents increasingly look like idiots when they claim the opposite of what the science actually shows.
- The quality of the objections raised by opponents are obvious nonsense. Anyone can see they don’t add up.
For instance, Governor Scott wrote, “This bill has the potential… of putting the wants of a parent before the child’s best interest by creating a premise of equal time sharing.” This is nonsense given the increasing evidence that shared parenting IS the child’s best interest in most cases. It is impossible to come up with a good reason, so he makes one up.
Or take, for instance, Maria G. Gonzalez. She is the Chairperson of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar Association --- the family lawyers. She sent out an email blast to all her members urging them to contact Governor Scott. She made the claim that SB 668 was a “50-50 equal time sharing” law --- but of course, it was not. It explicitly called equal parenting time a premise, or a starting point, from which judges would go on to evaluate at least 20 other factors required by existing law. Utter misrepresentation. Desperation.
Or look at the Florida Bar more broadly. About 100 pages of documents from the Family Law Section’s Legislation Committee were leaked to National Parents Organization. These were things like emails and minutes of meetings. The arguments by their lobbyists were all about best interest of the child. But, as our own Robert Franklin reports HERE, within those 100 pages, “There is not a single mention that shared parenting is best for children; has the endorsement of 110 world experts and 43 peer reviewed experts and is favored by 70% of the population.” They know there is no support for their position.
Or how about Heather Quick? She is, of course, a member of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar. You’ll enjoy Robert Franklin’s demolition of her arguments HERE.
- The quality of the opponents is terrible. Listen to this beaut of a statement from National Organization for Women’s Adele Guadalupe. Believe it or not, she was one of the main speakers at the bad guys’ pathetic rally in Tallahassee. “What did the father do? He contributed his sperm. The mother carried the baby for nine months. The mother had the nausea and threw up, probably had to give up her job. The mother had to give birth, the mother has to breastfeed the child. All of a sudden the mother counts for nothing and the father has a 50% right to this child when it’s young?”
Does anyone really think they can keep on winning with this kind of whiny, father-denigrating spokesperson??? If that’s the best they can do, they are in deep trouble.
- Opponents have to work hard to defeat you. The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar had to wage all-out war to win this battle. In desperation they hired some of the most influential, highest-paid lobbyists in Florida. In the end, this one Section of the Bar spent as much on lobbying as the entire rest of the Florida Bar Association put together. How long can they keep that up?
- There is a political cost to opposing the measure. Governor Scott had to defy his own Legislature, his own party and his own public to veto this bill. The legislature has passed it twice by large margins. The votes in favor came mostly from his own party, the Republicans, including some powerful voices. The criticism he received for vetoing the bill came mostly from his party, and the praise he got was tepid, coming from Democrats, who said things like, “While I usually can’t find much good to say about Governor Scott, this time…” The Governor also had to go against overwhelming public opinion.
Politicians know they can go against the grain only so many times and then they are weakened to the point they can’t get things done. There is a price they pay. Governor Scott will pay a price for his veto.
The famous liberator of India, Mahatma Gandhi, said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.” He was exactly right. We are at the third stage, on the threshold of victory.