Custody Laws: Our Government in (In)Action

My testimony in front of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee of the Minnesota Senate (photo by Courtney Perry/All Rights Reserved)

Last month, I testified in front of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee of the Minnesota Senate. I spoke in favor of Bill 1402, which aims to bring presumed equality to shared parenting time in divorced families. Currently, the presumption in Minnesota — that is, the guidelines that are recommended for family court judges to follow — is that one parent gets the majority (75%) of parenting time, and the other parent gets the rest. As you might guess, the 75% almost always goes to the mother. (I won’t comment on my own custody arrangement; negotiations are ongoing.)

This bill has been bouncing around the Capitol for over a decade. One intrepid woman, Molly Olson, has kept the bill alive. She — and I — believe that it is in the best interests of children that the default presumption should be 50-50. The bill makes all sorts of exceptions, for unfit parents and other extenuating circumstances.

By the time I testified, the bill had basically been gutted. The percentage was dropped from 50% to 35%. Nevertheless, I testified that the Court system has habituated a outdated notion that mothers are always better to be the primary parent than fathers. I argued that when the judicial branch of our government is too habituated in certain patterns, the legislative branch needs to step in and set things right.

I acknowledged that it’s odd for a white man to be claiming discrimination. Even so, that’s what this is.

But here’s the funny thing: Democrats are unanimously against this bill, and Republicans are for it. You know who else is against it?

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My Black Brother

That headline is not metaphorical. My parents, in their retirement, have taken in a young African American man, and he has lived with them for the past several years. Cavonte has become a part of our family, and a brother to me. His mother is in prison, and he does not know his father. We have become his family.

My parents have performed a profound act of Christian charity.

Last night, the local news aired a story on Cavonte and my parents:

Ground Rules for Debating Same Sex Marriage

A Minnesotan and pastor’s kid offers these ground rules for my fellow citizens as we debate the marriage amendment, on the ballot this fall:

Let all Minnesotans remember that:

There is no one Christian position. Some, like the state’s Catholic bishops, advocate for the amendment on Christian grounds. Others, like the majority of delegates at the recent Minneapolis Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, oppose the amendment. As a Christian pastor myself I would be the last to say that one’s religious convictions should not influence choices at the voting booth — anything but. However, it should be noted that Christians hold varied and complex positions on the amendment. We cannot be seen as one voting bloc.

We all support families. I believe both those supporting and opposing the amendment have the well-being of families at the heart of their position. In this way all voters are “pro-family;” they just deeply disagree as to what sort of families should have the legal status of marriage.

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Minnesota Beer

So, I made an off-handed remark last week about Minnesota having the best microbrew community in the country, and I got all sorts of push-back from people touting Colorado, Oregon, even Indiana (cough, cough). Puh-leeze.

While I should not have to explain myself, I nevertheless will, by overwhelming you with links. Read a few of these and tell me why you’re not packing a UHaul and moving here.

Because Surly Furious is ranked the #1 IPA in the world by RateBeer, the Rotten Tomatoes of beer (which means it’s a rating of all reviews)

Because Surly is building a $20 million destination brewpub

Because James Fallows tries a Surly and admits he was wrong about canned beer

Because a Minneapolis brewer uses yeast he imported in vials from Belgium, and his Chinese father-in-law, to make Boom Island

Because I will be refilling my growler of another IPA this weekend: Fulton’s Sweet Child of Vine

Because all these brewers started in their garages.

Because the Four Firkins is an amazing beer store.

And I could go on…

Go ahead, Indianans, have at it!