Immunity for Guardian Ad Litem destroys Connecticut family – Part 2

Skipp_family_photo_s640x427WASHINGTON, DC, March 1, 2013 - In Connecticut, the phrase “for the sake of the children” is often thrown around on custody cases involving child victims of violent crimes.  However, cases like 9-year old Max Liberti’s suggest that some family court appointees are more likely to favor the opportunity to continue billing families for unnecessary, even fraudulent services, over what is best for the child.

After all, children living in safe environments do not need Guardian Ad Litems (GAL), evaluations, or therapy to protect and rehabilitate them.  When Max disclosed that his father raped him, the GAL and other professionals charged his family a whopping total of $1.5 million for their services. Yet most of the 40+ professionals assigned to his case spent little or no time with Max, or did not know him at all before making recommendations that forever severed his relationship with his mother.

Often the court appoints a GAL to advocate for the child’s “best interests” instead of asking the children for direct input. The GAL then bills the parents for asking other strangers appointed onto the case what’s best for the children.

In 2003, the Connecticut court decided that the GAL has the exclusive right to speak on the child’s behalf, yet there are no requirements as to how much time a GAL must spend with their ward.  To clarify the GAL’s role, the court drew the bright line rule that “Just as it is not normally the province of the attorney to testify, it is not the province of the guardian ad litem to file briefs with the court.” (In re Tayquon H., 821 A.2d 796 [Conn. Ct. App. 2003]).

While the Judicial Branch provides free certification trainings[1] for GAL’s, there is no central oversight process in place to review the quality of their work, yet they enjoy qualified immunity for their actions.[2]

What exactly is the Judicial Branch training GAL’s to do?

GUARDIAN AD WHO? THE SKIPP-TITTLE CHILDREN

When Susan Skipp’s daughter Gabrielle truthfully disclosed[3] that her father assaulted her family, Susan was ordered to use the majority of her income to pay the fees of various court appointed professionals she could not afford. Attorney Mary Brigham was appointed as the children’s GAL, and Dr. Kreiger[4] and Dr. Horowitz [5] were appointed to assess the family and provide them with therapy. A court issued an order forbidding Susan from speaking to the children about the litigation, seeking domestic violence support for them, or “disparaging” the father who allegedly assaulted them.

As GAL, Brigham billed the children’s home at a rate of $300 per hour to represent the children’s wishes and best interests. Billing records show that between September 2010 and November 2011, she billed over 196 hours, including only five meetings with the children.[6] It’s impossible to tell whether the children met with Brigham alone, how long these meetings were, or what was said.

Invoices show during this period, Brigham’s time was largely spent talking to other providers who barely knew the children or recently met them, emailing unnamed parties, speaking to Dr. Tittle and his attorney, and talking about billing matters. Susan was also charged for the time Brigham spent drafting, filing, and successfully prosecuting motions, including as many as three motions she personally filed seeking to hold Susan in contempt for nonpayment of GAL fees. Susan says that last July, Judge Robert Resha held her in contempt, then threatened to incarcerate her if she refused to immediately liquidate her teacher’s retirement pension to pay Brigham $20,000 in fees.

Susan also saw Horowitz and Kreiger’s unorthodox billing practices as red flags that made her doubt the legitimacy of the appointments.

My divorce agreement states that the parents will see Dr. Krieger for parent counseling. Instead, Dr. Krieger drafted up an agreement for co-parent mediation,” says Susan. This was improper she says, because “Mediation is a legal service that is not covered by health insurance and must be court ordered.”

Susan says that Kreiger charged Aetna for treatment, despite the fact that she was required to provide him with a $2,500 retainer and pay expenses out of pocket.  She questioned whether Dr. Kreiger was billing for treatments that were unnecessary or improperly performed.

Dr. Krieger also performed psychological evaluations on the family,” Susan says. “Those need to be ordered by the court too, and were outside the scope of his appointment as a counselor.” Susan adds that one such evaluation had flawed results because it was done against medical advice immediately after her car exploded, leaving her hospitalized with head injuries.

When Susan requested copies of the records and bills, then questioned Dr. Horowitz and Dr. Krieger’s refusal to address the assaults or the father’s struggles with addiction and the law with the children, both providers recused themselves from the case.[7] [8]  However, Brigham then asserted privilege on the children’s behalf, thereby prohibiting Susan from obtaining documentation from either provider.[9]

“While Kreiger and Horowitz testified in trial that there was no domestic abuse, they both used domestic violence codes when billing Aetna,” says Susan.  Dr. Horowitz testified that he used one medical chart for 2 children, used the wrong billing codes with the insurance company, then failed to inform the parents and the GAL that he had diagnosed the children with serious mental disorders.[10]

Brigham decided it was “not in the children’s best interests” to have them testify at trial.

“ARE YOU HERE TO SAVE US?”

Once when their father refused to pick his children up for three days of parenting time, I had the pleasure of meeting Susan’s children. The children seemed traumatized not only by the violent crimes perpetrated against them, but also by the fickle will of the courts to intervene on a moment’s notice and upend their lives without including them in these decisions. Given their isolation and the infrequent, yet intensely hostile interactions between Brigham and the children, it was no wonder they sought answers from me the moment their mother left the room.

“Are you here to save us?” Gabby asked. “Someone has got to help mom stop my father. We are afraid because he hurts us.”

“No honey,” I told them, “I’m just a journalist, I can’t save anyone.”

They begged me “Please write something to make Mary Brigham listen so the court will not make us live with my father.”

My heart was heavy because they too felt the inevitable, that darkness was coming for them, and they knew they were helpless to stop it.

With Judge Munro’s trial decision not yet issued, in September 2012 Dr. Tittle sought to permanently sever all of Susan’s parenting rights and access to the children. Judge Gerard Adelman heard testimony that the children refused to visit with Dr. Tittle for the stated reason that they feared for their safety. When Brigham refused to talk to them about these concerns, the children refused to get in the car with her. Brigham told the children she was unconcerned, then demanded they get in the car so she could bring them to Dr. Tittle’s [which they did not do.]  Consequently, Judge Adelman granted Dr. Tittle’s motion for sole custody with the caveat that the court would permanently terminate all of Susan’s parenting rights if she were even 5 minutes late for any future visits.

One week later, I attended the hearing on Dr. Tittle’s second motion to terminate Susan’s parental rights.  Judge Munro called Judge Adelman’s orders “draconian,” then criticized Brigham’s role in instigating the proceedings by acting outside the scope of her appointment as Dr. Tittle’s “taxi driver.” As we left the courtroom, Brigham informed me that she had filed her affidavit of fees a month ago. Subsequently, neither I nor the court staff were able to locate Brigham’s affidavit.

Ultimately, Judge Munro awarded Dr. Tittle sole custody of the children, then constructed a “set-up-to fail” parenting plan that effectively terminated Susan’s access to the children. Susan retains the right [on paper] to purchase a few hours per week with her children at Visitation Solutions, Inc.,[11] which is affiliated[12] with Horowitz and Krieger, and located over an hour away from the home she and her children once shared.

Judge Munro denied Susan’s request for alimony, then awarded Brigham $70,000 in fees, despite the fact that Brigham never filed an affidavit disclosing her billing. After Judge Munro recused herself from hearing Susan’s case, Brigham’s subsequent motions to garnish Susan’s wages were denied pending the outcome of Susan’s appeal.[13]

Since October 2012, Susan filed for bankruptcy and has not been able to afford to purchase time with her children. Dr. Tittle[14] has refused to allow the children any contact with their mother, and remains on criminal probation for driving under the influence, reckless driving, and evading responsibility (leaving the scene of an accident.)[15]

Brigham has scheduled a status conference for April 4th to discuss payment of her fees, garnishment of Susan’s assets and tax returns.

Who’s best interests have been served?

IS THERE A COMMON DENOMENATOR?

Horowitz and Dr. Kenneth Robson often conduct the court’s “free” GAL certification trainings together with Judge Munro.  Court records show that when Dr. Kenneth Robson[16] and Horowitz[17] are involved and the State is paying, the parents are often ordered not to communicate with their children about the trauma they experience. The GAL exclusively communicates directly with Horowitz about the children’s care, and only the GAL will speak to the children about the litigation.

“One of the core issues is the qualified immunity GAL’s enjoy, which results in much of the judicial outsourcing to them,” says advocate Peter Szymonik. He points out that a major reason why parents cannot even find relief from excessive GAL fees in bankruptcy is that the court categorizes it as child support, which is nondischargable. “This leads to excessive and unnecessarily billings which permanently financially devastate parents.”

While Szymonik says the system is biased against parents, Journalist Keith Harmon Snow has documented over 70 CT cases[18] where fathers who committed legal offenses, have gained custody of child victims. The mothers were often required to purchase parenting time through outrageously expensive, even corrupt supervised visitation providers, who extorted them out of relationships with their children. Now permanently destroyed and bankrupted by abusive, often deadly State sponsored litigation, these families have no recourse.

“GALs are, in fact, paid by judges even ahead of child support,” says Szymonik. This translates into a multi-million dollar fraud and state sponsored corruption which is financial devastating families and parents, harming children, and fleecing taxpayers.”

To additional documentation related this journalist’s investigative report on the Connecticut courts:  http://www.scribd.com/JournalistABC

REFERENCES:

(1)        2-22-2011 Transcript re: Liberti v. Liberti:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126529767/Liberti-v-Liberti-Transcript-of-2-22-2011-Hearing

(2)        CT Resource Group Contract With CT Judiciary re: Court Staff Education:

(3)        CT Resource Group Court Invoices Part 1:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/125725460/Connecticut-Court-Billing-Invoices-Part-1-Dr-Howard-M-Krieger-and-Dr-Sidney-S-Horowitz

(4)        CT Resources Group Court Invoices Part 2:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/125730381/CT-Court-Billing-Invoices-Part-2-Dr-Howard-M-Krieger-and-Dr-Sidney-S-Horowitz

(5)        Dr. Horowitz’s Testimony re: Medical Billing Irregularities (Tittle v. Tittle):

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

(6)        Dr. Horowitz’s Bills re: Boyne v. Boyne:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126239188/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-s-Billing-Records-PART-3-Boyne-v-Boyne

(7)        Dr. Kreiger’s Documentation re: Tittle v. Tittle:

(8)        GAL Mary Brigham’s Invoices re: Tittle v. Tittle:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/125759601/Attorney-Mary-Brigham-s-Billing-on-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp-Case-Middletown-CT-FA10-4022922-S

(9)        Maureen Murphy’s billing re: Liberti v. Liberti:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126246491/GAL-Maureen-Murphy-s-bills-re-Liberti-v-Liberti-Guardian-ad-Who

(10)      N.J. Sarno’s Billing re: Liberti v. Liberti:

(11)      Dr. Robson’s Court Invoices:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/122480531/Dr-Kenneth-Robson-s-payment-records-obtained-from-the-CT-Judicial-Branch

(11)      Dr. Robson’s Billing re Liberti v. Liberti:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/126252311/Dr-Kenneth-Robson-s-Bills-re-Liberti-v-Liberti

 


[1] http://www.jud.ct.gov/external/news/AMC_GAL_Training_Poster.pdf

[2] http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/rpt/2013-R-0098.htm

[3] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[4] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[5] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

[6] http://www.scribd.com/doc/125759601/Attorney-Mary-Brigham-s-Billing-on-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp-Case-Middletown-CT-FA10-4022922-S

[7] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

[8] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[9] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126588063/Skipp-Kreiger-Documents

[10] http://www.scribd.com/doc/126272714/Dr-Sidney-Horowitz-Testimony-re-Medical-Billing-Irregularities-Shawn-Tittle-v-Susan-Skipp

[11] http://visitationsolutions.com

[12] http://www.collaborativedivorceteamct.com

[13] http://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/CaseDetail/PublicCaseDetail.aspx?DocketNo=UWYFA104022992S

[14] http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Danbury-man-charged-with-DUI-

[15] http://www.jud2.ct.gov/crdockets/CaseDetail.aspx?source=Pending&Key=371c238b-8016-481a-ab71-61ede4040160

[16] http://www.scribd.com/doc/122480531/Dr-Kenneth-Robson-s-payment-records-obtained-from-the-CT-Judicial-Branch

[17] http://www.scribd.com/doc/125730381/CT-Court-Billing-Invoices-Part-2-Dr-Howard-M-Krieger-and-Dr-Sidney-S-Horowitz

[18] http://www.consciousbeingalliance.com/2013/01/summary-of-connecticut-court-judicial-abuse-cases-january-2013/

Pelletier family: DCF denied us Mother’s Day visit

3701653_G[1]Boston (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Protesters gathered outside the Framingham facility where 15-year-old Justina Pelletier is living Sunday after the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families reportedly denied her family a visit.

According to the family, DCF denied Linda Pelletier, Justina's mother, a Mother's Day visit to the Wayside Youth & Family Support Network where Justina is staying.

According to a press release from the family, the department cited "unspecified reasons" and made the refusal late Saturday afternoon the state department of Health and Human Services gave the visit "serious consideration" to be part of a reunification plan between the Pelletier parents and their daughter Justina. DCF operates under the Health and Human Services sector.

Linda Pelletier released two statements in video form as a reaction to the department's decision to not allow a visit on Sunday. Those short videos can be seen here and here.

Janet Muscara, her husband and three children all went to Framingham on Sunday morning to participate in the protest.

"They asked me what I wanted to do today for Mother's Day, and I asked them if they would support me in coming here to support the family. Justina's family. And they all agreed without hesitation."

Muscara joined other mothers and kids Sunday after the Pelletiers claimed they were denied the special Mother's Day visit by Wayside.

Lou Pelletier and his daughter Jessica told FOX 25 that the facility told him they didn't have the staff to accommodate the request because of the publicity around Justina's case.

 

A version of this column originally appeared in:

Oklahoma foster care reform efforts criticized

dhs[1]OKLAHOMA CITY —— Oklahoma is making lackluster progress toward its promise to improve its foster-care system, according to a report released Wednesday morning by an independent monitoring panel.

The second report from the monitors of the Pinnacle Plan implementation by the state Department of Human Services gave their first opinion on the state's "good faith efforts to achieve substantial and sustained progress."

The Pinnacle Plan is the negotiated settlement between the agency and the nonprofit Children's Rights, which filed a federal class-action lawsuit in 2008 alleging abuses of children in foster care.

An agreement was reached in early 2012, and the five-year plan started being put into place in August that year. It has 15 areas to improve, with goals and target dates, such as shelter use and the number of available foster placements.

The monitors make twice-a-year reports on how the state is meeting its goals.

At any point, the monitors could obtain court orders if they believe the state is not making significant progress.

The latest report expressed concerns about the sluggish recruitment of foster homes and therapeutic foster homes and the use of emergency shelters for children age 6 and older.

The monitors complimented the caseworkers for their dedication.

"Throughout, the (monitors) have been impressed by the commitment of DHS caseworkers and supervisors to strengthen the Oklahoma child welfare system so that it works better for children and families, although the DHS staff bear an enormous burden trying to do so in the face of very high caseloads and a shortage of safe, family-like placements for children," the report states.

Marcia Lowry, executive director of Children's Rights, said this report shows Oklahoma has not changed its priorities regarding children.

Because voters abolished the oversight commission in 2012 in favor of governor oversight, Lowry said the state's top elected official should be held accountable.

"There is clearly a leadership problem here, and the state's promise to implement the plan the state itself outlined in the Pinnacle Plan is clearly not being implemented in many respects," Lowry said. "Although the people in charge have changed and the buck now stops with the governor, children are not any better off."

Lowry said the findings of not making good faith efforts in foster-home recruitment, shelter use and caseloads are "troubling findings."

DHS officials say there has been some disagreement on the data collection and interpretation. A nationally recognized Chicago-based company has been hired to help in those discussions.

Lowry said the lack of data is a reflection of continued bad practices, pointing to problems getting data during the court process.

"There hasn't even been corrected data available and that is so critical in many respects, like foster home and therapeutic home recruitment," Lowry said. "They cannot even get the data straight. I am surprised by this, and I do attribute it to a lack of leadership. They could have done a better job, especially with regard to recruiting foster homes, which is so critical to all of this."

While the monitors have not sought court orders to date, Children's Rights did express concerns to them about the state not giving promised raises to workers and foster parents. The monitors noted that the increases were made late and no orders were needed.

"It is disheartening that Oklahoma seems unable to prioritize the needs of its most vulnerable citizens," stated Fred Dorwart in a written release. His law firm served as co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

"Children in state care, who already have suffered horrifying trauma, deserve nothing less than good homes and the full attention of those overseeing their cases. The state's practices continue to expose children to harm and the threat of harm."

The report findings are not a surprise to DHS, though officials disagree with some of its findings.

Director Ed Lake has spoken publicly for the past few weeks about the challenges being faced, from high staff turnover to a need for supplemental funding.

The most significant is a jump in the number of children taken out of abusive and neglectful homes, from 8,500 to 11,300, at a time when these reforms are being made.

Lake said he was pleased monitors recognized the work of the staff and those challenges. But he said improvements have been made in each area even though some fell short of the goal.

"It has been an uphill battle at almost every turn with the unexpectedly rapid rise in the number of children being placed in state custody," Lake stated in a written release. "That fact alone has affected key goals in the Pinnacle Plan. The pace of a few of our initiatives hasn't been what we all wanted it to be, but that certainly hasn't been for lack of effort or support for our work.

"We believe progress is being made, even with the number of children in our care, and the data supports our belief."

DHS overhauled its structure of child welfare, hired about 600 workers, reformed investigative procedures and responses to child-abuse allegations and eliminated shelter use for children 2 and younger, and has nearly rid shelter use for all children younger than 6.

"This is not the same department it was two years ago," Lake said. "We are headed in the right direction, but it will take time to get where we want to be. This is only the second year of a five-year improvement plan, and we still have much work ahead."

The cost of the Pinnacle Plan is estimated to be about $100 million over five years. It received $25 million out of the $30 million request to the Legislature the first year, and $32 million out of the $40 million request in the second.

Lake requested $33 million in supplemental funding to get through the fiscal year but no action has been taken.

Though the funding falls short, Lake said DHS has fared better than other agencies.

"We are extremely grateful to Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Legislature for their continuing support and investments they have made to enable these improvements," he said. "The state's financial investment has been considerable, and it's clear this critical work to improve our child welfare system is a high priority."


Highlights from the Pinnacle Plan Monitoring Report

Foster home development and support: Found that DHS was not making a good faith effort in recruiting homes and giving enough resources. Monitors were critical of the delay in establishing contracts with private agencies providing foster care support. They found a net gain of 50 homes last year while the goal was 615.

Foster care rate increase: One increase was made last year. The second scheduled increase has not been given because the Legislature did not provide funding in a supplemental appropriation. DHS plans to make up for that in the next year.

Therapeutic foster care: Found that DHS was not making a good faith effort in recruiting these more specialized homes. The explanation provided indicates some disagreement on how to calculate the number of homes available. A revised plan to meet the goals in this area was submitted by DHS to the monitors and is under review.

Caseloads: Is withholding judgment on good-faith effort until October. Monitors said DHS implemented several ways to improve the environment and turnover, including a redistribution of caseloads. Data was submitted by DHS in December for review. Monitors stated they "do not yet find evidence that workloads are improving in a substantial and sustained direction and DHS will need to demonstrate very significant movement over the next several months." An allegation made by Children's Rights in the lawsuit was that DHS routinely assigned workers at least 50 children and some had up to 100 children.

Shelter use: Monitors found DHS is making a good faith effort on eliminating use of emergency shelters for children 2 and younger. However, the monitors say they are "very concerned" about the growing number of children 6 and older in shelters. They are reserving judgment on good faith for the 2 to 5 age group until October.

Caseworker visitation: Is reserving judgment on good faith until October. DHS submitted data in March, and the parties are reviewing the information.

Placement stability: DHS and the monitors are currently reviewing data. Judgment on good faith is being withheld until October.

Permanency placement: DHS and the monitors are reviewing data. Judgment on good faith is being withheld until October.

Source: Report from the independent monitors of the DHS class action settlement

 

Oklahoma foster care reform efforts criticized

 

A version of this column originally appeared in:

The Easy Way To Destroy Freedom and Democracy

One need not be a hard-core Communist or anarchist to bring about the end to freedom and democracy – simply push for special rights for homosexuals, and all this happens quite readily. We have heaps of proof of this, and each new day we see more examples of how the militant homosexual agenda is spelling the end of faith, freedom and family.

One simply has to look at where special rights for homosexuals – including marriage rights – have been in place to see all the destruction and mayhem already being unleashed. Simply consider the situation in just one country – Canada, where special rights for homosexuals have been given for quite some time now, and homosexual marriage has been legal since 2005.

What is happening there is simply shocking, and we now can see perfectly well just how undemocratic and totalitarian the homosexual agenda really becomes once it is enacted into law. The situation in Canada is very bleak indeed, and getting worse by the day.

Two lengthy articles have recently appeared which document the loss of freedom and the erosion of democracy in Canada thanks to the homosexual militants and their supporters amongst the social and political elites. It makes for scary reading, but it needs to be made widely known.

The first piece by Michael Coren is worth quoting at length. He reports, “It’s estimated that, in less than five years, there have been between 200 and 300 proceedings — in courts, human-rights commissions, and employment boards — against critics and opponents of same-sex marriage. And this estimate doesn’t take into account the casual dismissals that surely have occurred.

“In 2011, for example, a well-known television anchor on a major sports show was fired just hours after he tweeted his support for ‘the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage.’ He had merely been defending a hockey player’s agent who was receiving numerous death threats and other abuse for refusing to support a pro-gay-marriage campaign. The case is still under appeal, in human-rights commissions and, potentially, the courts.

“The Roman Catholic bishop of Calgary, Alberta, Fred Henry, was threatened with litigation and charged with a human-rights violation after he wrote a letter to local churches outlining standard Catholic teaching on marriage. He is hardly a reactionary — he used to be known as ‘Red Fred’ because of his support for the labor movement — but the archdiocese eventually had to settle with the complainants to avoid an embarrassing and expensive trial.

“In the neighboring province of Saskatchewan, another case illustrates the intolerance that has become so regular since 2005. A number of marriage commissioners (state bureaucrats who administer civil ceremonies) were contacted by a gay man eager to marry his partner under the new legislation. Some officials he telephoned were away from town or already engaged, and the first one to take his call happened to be an evangelical Christian, who explained that he had religious objections to carrying out the ceremony but would find someone who would. He did so, gave the name to the man wanting to get married, and assumed that this would be the end of the story.”

He concludes his eye-opening article this way: “The Canadian litany of pain, firings, and social and political polarization and extremism is extraordinary and lamentable, and we haven’t even begun to experience the mid- and long-term results of this mammoth social experiment. I seldom say it, but for goodness’ sake learn something from Canada.”

The second important article on this has just appeared, and it is also a real eye-opener. Law professor Bradley W. Miller assesses the damage which has taken place in Canada during the past decade, and is not optimistic of things turning around any time soon.

He focuses on three key areas: “Anyone interested in assessing the impact of same-sex marriage on public life should investigate the outcomes in three spheres: first, human rights (including impacts on freedom of speech, parental rights in public education, and the autonomy of religious institutions); second, further developments in what sorts of relationships political society will be willing to recognize as a marriage (e.g., polygamy); and third, the social practice of marriage.”

As to human rights, consider the right to freedom of expression: “Many of those who have persisted in voicing their dissent have been subjected to investigations by human rights commissions and (in some cases) proceedings before human rights tribunals. Those who are poor, poorly educated, and without institutional affiliation have been particularly easy targets—anti-discrimination laws are not always applied evenly.  Some have been ordered to pay fines, make apologies, and undertake never to speak publicly on such matters again. Targets have included individuals writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, and ministers of small congregations of Christians. A Catholic bishop faced two complaints—both eventually withdrawn—prompted by comments he made in a pastoral letter about marriage.

“Reviewing courts have begun to rein in the commissions and tribunals (particularly since some ill-advised proceedings against Mark Steyn and Maclean’s magazine in 2009), and restore a more capacious view of freedom of speech. And in response to the public outcry following the Steyn/Maclean’s affair, the Parliament of Canada recently revoked the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s statutory jurisdiction to pursue ‘hate speech.’

“But the financial cost of fighting the human rights machine remains enormous—Maclean’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, none of which is recoverable from the commissions, tribunals, or complainants. And these cases can take up to a decade to resolve. An ordinary person with few resources who has drawn the attention of a human rights commission has no hope of appealing to the courts for relief; such a person can only accept the admonition of the commission, pay a (comparatively) small fine, and then observe the directive to remain forever silent. As long as these tools remain at the disposal of the commissions—for whom the new orthodoxy gives no theoretical basis to tolerate dissent—to engage in public discussion about same-sex marriage is to court ruin.

“Similar pressure can be—and is—brought to bear on dissenters by professional governing bodies (such as bar associations, teachers’ colleges, and the like) that have statutory power to discipline members for conduct unbecoming of the profession. Expressions of disagreement with the reasonableness of institutionalizing same-sex marriage are understood by these bodies to be acts of illegal discrimination, which are matters for professional censure.

“Teachers are particularly at risk for disciplinary action, for even if they only make public statements criticizing same-sex marriage outside the classroom, they are still deemed to create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students. Other workplaces and voluntary associations have adopted similar policies as a result of their having internalized this new orthodoxy that disagreement with same-sex marriage is illegal discrimination that must not be tolerated.”

And consider the changed nature of relationship recognition: “One prominent polygamist community in British Columbia was greatly emboldened by the creation of same-sex marriage, and publicly proclaimed that there was now no principled basis for the state’s continued criminalization of polygamy. Of all the Canadian courts, only a trial court in British Columbia has addressed whether prohibiting polygamy is constitutional, and provided an advisory opinion to the province’s government. The criminal prohibition of polygamy was upheld, but on a narrow basis that defined polygamy as multiple, concurrent civil marriages. The court did not address the phenomenon of multiple common-law marriages. So, thus far, the dominant forms of polygamy and polyamory practiced in Canada have not gained legal status, but neither have they faced practical impediments.”

The truth is, everything changes when special rights are granted to homosexual couples – especially homosexual marriage and adoption rights. We all pay a heavy price if we dare to disagree, and dare to stand up for heterosexual marriage and the fundamental right of children to be raised by their own biological parents.

The crackdown on faith, freedom and family is just beginning. It can only get much worse as the homosexual juggernaut rolls along – unless concerned citizens start to make a stink about this and begin to stand up for their fast-diminishing freedoms.

www.nationalreview.com/articles/301641/canadian-crackdown-michael-coren

www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/11/6758/

 

A version of this column originally appeared in www.billmuehlenberg.com.