Waldlaw Blog

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

It's June -- Time to Reflect on the Past Year

I can't believe it's already June! Since I have two school-aged kids, my calendar is a school-year calendar. So June is a time of transitions. Looking back on the past year, I am amazed at all that has happened. There is exciting new work being done around children's issues, including breakthroughs on the gay parenting front and groundbreaking work around finding permanency for children in the dependency system. The dependency work often goes unnoticed, but with 500,000 children in foster care these issues are huge. I am especially impressed with the work currently being done to provide new, meaningful support to children "aging out" of the foster care system -- in other words, kids for whom no adoptive home is found and who aren't returned to their families, but who remain in the foster care system until they turn 18. These kids have, historically, simply been kicked out at 18 to find their own way, many ending up on the streets, in shelters, in jail or dead. So kudos to the creative and courageous souls out there who are working hard to find new ways to bring permanency and stability into the lives of too-often forgotten children. Then there's interesting activity on the gay marriage front. On May 12, a federal judge struck down Nebraska's constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman and precluding same-sex civil unions, domestic partnerships and other such arrangements. The amendment was passed by the Nebraska voters approximately 5 years ago, with 70% of voters voting in favor. The judge found the amendment unconstitutional on several grounds, the most interesting of which is the concept that amendments such as these deny lesbian and gay citizens their constitutionally-mandated access to the legislative process. In other words, amendments such as this preclude one community from being able to use the legislative process to try to make changes to improve their lives. A good point! Anyway, with so many other states passing similar amendments, it will be fascinating to see what happens next. (And who would have thought we'd be looking to Nebraska for the cutting edge of legal theory!!) The main thing I see, looking back on the past nine months, is a huge amount of activity -- debate -- upheaval -- on the family front. I think this is a good thing, over all. The national conversation has begun. Wherever it takes us, at least we're talking....


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