The Cowboy and I are still chuckling a bit over my last conversation of the day yesterday at the South Dakota statehouse.. with the likes of Ms. Joni Cutler http://tiny.cc/l2x37.
Now, I don’t want to do anything to ruffle anyone’s feathers. We are all entitled to our own opinions. And if I am ever looking for work in South Dakota, I need to watch inserting my opinions anywhere.
What is fair to share with you, is the exchange.
Ms. Cutler was one of the last to come out of the Senate Chambers yesterday afternoon .. Fortunately, we were still there, waiting on the House to dismiss.
We were scheduled to talk with one of Senate Bill 60’s strongest supporters, Representative Melissa Magstadt.
The Cowboy was off talking with Rep. Mitch Fargen.
Others, who had been making sure we talked with everyone possible where it might make a difference .. knew I wanted to speak with Cutler despite the fact she is adamantly opposed to any update/advance in shared parenting legislation.
They said, there she is. And then they bolted.
I watched as she leisurely stopped and talked with various colleagues on her way out the door .. often stopping, turning back around, joking with a few folks, and taking a few steps back toward the door.
Finally she walked out.
I said, “Ms. Cutler, my name is …. I am here with a gentleman by the name of .. (the Cowboy) today.” She smiled and said, “Nice to meet you.” She seemed quite relaxed and in no hurry.
“We’re here today to talk about Senate Bill 60 and the need for improved shared parenting legislation,” I said.
She cut me off, saying “I’m not interested.”
“I understand that,” I explained. I made sure to be looking her in the eye when I said, “I’m just curious if you can explain to me why.”
She stopped, searching, I believe for the right words. Any words actually. And then she replied, “We feel judges should have all of the information and room possible to make the best decision and not mandate them to have to give couples in a divorce equal custody.”
“Why wouldn’t SB60 allow them that same room for judgement?” I asked.
“If it would, why wouldn’t it already be in place?” she replied loudly. “Ask yourself that..”
“I have,” I said. “And that is why we are here today to talk with you and some others.”
I probably said it with a smirk, I have to admit, but that’s what I said, very calmly. Because at this point, she had gathered herself up and was walking away. Which is what I had expected.
As she rounded the corner and was about out of sight.. she threw in, laughing, “I’d love to argue with you later, but I have to go.”
I replied “I’m not sure we need to argue, but I was hoping we might discuss.”
Arguing is currently, I hate to say it, what the current law fosters. And there is nothing more detrimental to a family, children especially of parents who can’t get along, than arguing and being at each others throats through the lengthy, very sad process that is often divorce.
But it is a process currently, that any family law attorney such as Ms. Cutler and the State Bar … now I’m only guessing here … would stand to benefit from, as parents who argue over anything through a divorce and custody battle, typically argue through an attorney. Sorry, just thinking out loud as to why Ms. Cutler might support the status quo in this situation.
Senate Bill 60, we believe, will bring families back to a middle ground where everyone is encouraged to get along for the sake of the children. And when there is conflict, an unobjective third party is brought in to help with resolution. Can someone please explain to me why this is a bad idea? That is all I was hoping Cutler might help explain to me. Why she feels this is such a bad idea.
For those of you wanting more on SB60 and why the Cowboy and I were there yesterday, if you can glance at yesterday’s post, it’ll give you an idea.
For those of you who just want to be lazy and not look (which I get) .. Here’s a link to the bill. 😉 http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2012/Bills/SB60P.pdf
We’re not sure why there are still people out there who need to be convinced it is a child’s best interest, in most circumstances, to have both parents equally in their lives after a divorce, or for both parents to be treated and viewed equally through a divorce assuming both adults are loving, caring parents. It seems a bit silly. But, apparently there is a need to try and get the word out. And having talked with countless other parents, mostly dads in South Dakota, who after years of hoping someone will listen to them and gave up, we felt it was our turn to pick up the fight.
The Cowboy has been on the phone since leaving Pierre yesterday talking with family, friends and people he hasn’t heard from in ages. Old friends who have their own story to share and who say they’ll do whatever it takes to support him. And the bill. And that is exactly what is needed.
This bill needs attention now. If support isn’t strong before an upcoming hearing and testimony during the hearing, chances are it won’t even get out of committee. It was scheduled to start this time around, in the most likely place it would get killed. Because everyone we spoke with who’d like to see this pass is tired of working hard to see it fail, again.
One of the Cowboy’s good friends, who could lose her job for supporting this bill, is taking a stand and plans to testify. She this morning, posted this on her fb page:
If you believe parents should have joint custody of their children, please contact your Senators and Represenative in Pierre and urge them to support Senate Bill 60. This bill will be voted on Thursday, February 9th at 7:45 a.m. during Judiciary Committee at the State Capital in Pierre… This bill is SO IMPORTANT!!!
Even if you are not from South Dakota … (we’ve gotten emails today from folks in other state) but support moms and dads anywhere being encouraged to be good co-parents, to come to the table with equal parenting rights and responsibilities and allowing both parents to help raise their child .. especially if you are a judge, or an attorney and have seen 50/50 work.. Magstadt asked me just this morning to have you ..
Please contact either Senator Tim Begalka http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2012/MemberDetail.aspx?Member=151
Or, Representative Melissa Magstadt. http://legis.state.sd.us/sessions/2012/MemberDetail.aspx?Member=159
The Cowboy .. says thank you. Because he doesn’t plan to walk away .. from the discussion. Especially if it means, he might somehow get the opportunity to be more of the dad he wants to be.