November 29, 2003
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
United States Senate
476 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Clinton:
I'm writing you this letter from a jail cell in Syracuse, New York. A Federal Magistrate gave me a 35 day sentence for peacefully petitioning you for help. My NonViolent Action was silently carrying pictures of parents and children near your office in the Federal Building.
I'm a coordinator for a growing group of loving mothers and fathers who were unjustly separated from their children through divorce, separation, or the action of child protective services. Our group's name is AKidsRight.Org.
We look forward to our Nation's recognition and protection of the right of our children to have
TWO parents equally involved in their lives AND the right of parents to raise and nurture their own children. At this point we are not asking you to agree with or endorse these goals, but would like to continue the legislative process.
Our immediate goal is a local meeting between you and a small group of mothers and fathers associated with our group. We hope that after you have a chance to hear our stories and also from other groups - you will endorse a call for Congressional Hearings and eventually the creation for a Family Rights Act.
In the past two years we have visited both your Syracuse and Washington offices with few results. We have left many petitions for reform and not gotten any reply. A few of our members were told to, "Go and don't come back." The most unusual response from any Congressional Office we have visited. Full details at our web site: http://www.AKidsRight.Org/.
We can appreciate the busy schedule you and your staff members must have. I can only imagine the number of groups and different causes that must appeal to you for support. I wish our group of parents was better organized, had millions of members, and was better funded - we are not there yet. But many of us believe our cause is important: as much as the right of a black man to sit in the front of a bus or the right of a woman to vote.
Our method and strength is NonViolent Action and we are attempting to follow the recent historical examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. That positive social reform can be triggered, not by hatred, revenge, or violence - but by parents motivated by Faith in a Loving God. Parents willing to demonstrate to the public the love they have for their children by voluntary personal sacrifice.
As a coordinator for the group I am attempting to follow some of those goals. To demonstrate that NonViolent Action can work by my willingness to sacrifice one of my most valued rights, my freedom - to regain a more valued right - to be a parent to my own 10 year old son, Domenic.
PLEASE, we need your help! I need your help! The Magistrate was kind enough to structure my sentence so that I would be released in time to fly out West and pick up my son so we can spend Christmas together. We'll be together with my mother, Caterina, in our home town of Lyons, New York. I am her only child and Dom is her only grandchild.
She understands what I am doing and I am fortunate to have cousins in town that can help her with grocery shopping. She has been blessed with good health - she is now 87 and still lives with me in her own home. Both of my parents were Italian immigrants.
After the holidays I will again be returning to the Federal Building and probably more jail time. It is not something I enjoy and it is done at great risk to my family and my work. I am very thankful that Domenic is old enough to understand what 'Daddy does.' Some newspaper articles were an easy way to introduce him to what is happening by reading him a story. I always make it clear to him that Mom is not bad and this is not her fault - that like other people in the past, we are working to get a Human Right recognized.
The sacrifice of a few days in jail is minor compared to what people suffered in the past to get basic rights recognized. I am neither a saint or a devil, nor am I trying to become a martyr. Please do not see this as an attempt to 'black mail' you into a meeting.
I have no right to demand a meeting between you and parents, but I hope it will happen. As a former Air Force pilot it was not my goal to die, but to serve my country by willingness to sacrifice. As a loving parent I hope I have the courage and faith to show my son that same measure of devotion. Please help.
CC: Kathy Calhoun, Syracuse Regional Rep.
CC: Lona Valmoro, Senior Scheduler
Hand written letter