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Pride and Prosecution: Oregon's Destruction of a Family



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By Professor Stephen Baskerville, Ph.D.
June 6, 2004

For all the furor sparked by the Massachusetts ruling on homosexual marriage, the full picture has yet to emerge. Strange to say, even opponents of same-sex marriage have seriously underestimated what is being done by Margaret Marshall and the Massachusetts courts.

The ruling on gay marriage is only the tip of an iceberg. For all their professed concern about "privacy" and "rights," Marshall and her colleagues are staging nothing less than a political coup that dramatically extends judicial and all governmental power into private life. Mandating homosexual marriages is minor endeavor compared with the more serious business of destroying heterosexual ones.

Family destruction is not some unfortunate by-product of a well-intentioned quest for ever-expanding definitions of equality. It results from a deliberate attack on families by judicial ideologues who practice not justice but gender justice: an extremist ideology which demands that heterosexual men be separated from their wives and children and punished for their alleged crimes against women, children, and gays.

To glimpse this we must look behind the headline cases to the hidden underworld of family law. Advocates on both sides of the gay marriage debate have pointed out, in the words of Mike McManus, that "divorce is a far more grievous blow to marriage than today's challenge by gays." They are right in ways they may not realize. In divorce court, the forcible destruction of the family is not some theoretical prognostication; it is already the daily reality for millions of citizens.

Marshall presides over a judiciary where families are forcibly separated by government agents, where children are torn from their parents with no justification given, and where parents are railroaded into jail with no semblance of due process of law. In Marshall's court system, litigants find their hearing tapes doctored, their case files falsified, and themselves framed -- all with the full knowledge of judges. Mothers are ordered to divorce their husbands or lose their children. Fathers are forced to confess to crimes they have not committed. Attorneys who speak out are disbarred. Citizens who are minding their own business are summoned to court and ordered to pay the inflated fees of attorneys they have not hired and jailed when they are unable.

This is not all the work of Marshall alone, but her ruling is the culmination of not simply judicial "activism" but a combination of ideological extremism and judicial corruption that has transformed the Massachusetts judiciary into a Soviet-like system of kangaroo courts. In McLarnon v. Jokisch, Marshall invoked environmental law (and applied it to divorce!) to grant immunity to government officials and witnesses who use perjury, false allegations, and falsified documents to remove children from their parents and criminalize the parents. In a divorce case, the "defendant" - a parent who is being involuntarily divorced - is now the only party in the courtroom without immunity.

The defendant in that case, Edward McLarnon, is a forensic audio-visual investigator whose independently corroborated evidence of doctored hearing tapes was published in December 2000 by the Massachusetts News. His attorney Gregory Hession says the court removed documents from his file, falsified the docket, and withheld the case file for months. When McLarnon complained, he was assessed $3,500 in attorneys' fees and jailed by the same judges whose tapes were allegedly edited. Hession says he could find no interest in the tampering from the Middlesex Probate Court and Probate Court Register's office, the Middlesex District Attorney, the Massachusetts Attorney General and Inspector General, the Judicial Conduct Commission, or Marshall's Supreme Judicial Court. In fact, Marshall herself later assessed McLarnon an additional $16,400 in attorneys' fees (attorneys he had not hired), for which the state moved to seize his house and car.

The Massachusetts News also broke the story of Heidi Howard, who was told by the state Department of Social Services (DSS) to take out a restraining order against her husband and divorce him. When she refused, DSS seized her children and threatened to put them up for adoption, for which the state receives federal funds. Neither parent was ever charged with any wrongdoing. News reporter Nev Moore says similar cases abound.

There is reason to believe her. Financial incentives and quotas created by the Adoption and Safe Families Act in 1997, championed by the Clinton administration, have resulted in a "child protection racket" rife with "baby stealing and baby selling," according to Hession. "I am appalled by how many times this pattern is repeated." In family court recently the hallway was clogged with parents and children being adopted. "You could hardly walk. You had never seen such mass adoptions before." Forty percent of Massachusetts children adopted have gone to gay and lesbian couples, according to Democratic state Senator Therese Murray, who supports gay marriage. It is not difficult to see who will supply the children of gay "parents."

Harry Stewart is another victim of Massachusetts family justice, a lay preacher who was jailed for six months for refusing to confess to domestic violence. Stewart was never accused of any violence and may have been a victim himself. Forced confessions and self-denunciation are a standard requirement of "batterers'" programs.

These cases typify "the new Orwellian [judicial] system, which has no protection for certain categories of unfavored perpetrators of 'crimes' against the state, such as parents," says Hession. "It is a system skewed by political agendas, not truth...where government [is] intruding into family autonomy, paternal authority, child raising, and even minor family conflicts." Hession is risking his livelihood. Barbara Johnson, an attorney and whistleblower who ran for governor on a platform of court reform, is now being disbarred.

Such experiences "are depressingly common in Massachusetts," says attorney David Grossack. "There seem to be networks of feminists tied in with every courthouse in Massachusetts who can create a media storm if a decision is unfavorable to them. Inexplicable decisions, nonsensical restraining orders, and gender bias in the extreme are the rule, not the exception."

Marshall claimed in her gay marriage ruling that the state constitution "forbids the creation of second-class citizens." Yet that is precisely what she has created in married heterosexual parents, especially fathers. "The hue and cry about civil rights for lesbians and gays is particularly galling for Massachusetts' fathers," reads a letter just published in several Massachusetts newspapers. "Our civil and human rights have been ruthlessly violated by these same judges for decades.... Margaret Marshall is always found on the same side of the issue: ...against fathers and their inalienable right to the custody, care, and protection of their children."

If opponents of same-sex unions truly wish to save marriage -- and liberty -- they must wake up soon to the fact that homosexual marriage will not destroy the institution of heterosexual marriage. It is already rising from the ashes.

This article first appeared in the Human Events 4-13-04. Printed with Permission.


� 2004 Stephen Baskerville Ph.D. - All Rights Reserved

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Stephen Baskerville holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and teaches political science at Howard University in Washington, DC. In January 2004 he became President of the American Coalition for Fathers and Children.

He has appeared on national radio and television programs, including The O�Reilly Factor, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Court TV with Fred Graham and Katherine Crier, Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg, Endangered Liberties with Paul Weyrich, Legal Notebook with Tom Jipping, the Armstrong Williams Show, Take Action America, and others. He is a regular radio commentator for the Free Congress Foundation.

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"Family destruction is not some unfortunate by-product of a well-intentioned quest for ever-expanding definitions of equality. It results from a deliberate attack on families by judicial ideologues who practice not justice but gender justice: ..."