Ireland's comments followed reports that Vice President Gore has said he supports the so-called Fathers Count Act (H.R. 3073) which is being fast-tracked through Congress. The bill would funnel more than $100 million to fathers' rights organizations for support services to non-custodial fathers -- even though Congress has cut already inadequate funds for similar services to custodial parents. A provision in the bill would also allow states to cancel child support arrearages in certain situations; other aspects could undermine state efforts to collect past due support payments.
"At first glance, the Fathers Count Act appears to have worthy goals, including helping poor men to be better fathers. Upon closer examination, however, it is clear that this bill would undermine support for custodial parents, the majority of whom are women," Ireland said.
"Congress wants to reduce poverty by giving money to programs that support non-custodial fathers hoping that some of that money will trickle-down to needy kids. Trickle-down economics didn't work for the country, and it won't work for poor families, either."
"Additionally, the Fathers Count Act would only fund programs that 'promote marriage.' Many women end up in poverty because they are forced to flee abusive husbands or partners. Pressuring a poor woman to marry the father of her children -- without regard to his character -- could do great harm. Congress is telling women that the way to get out of poverty is to find a husband."
"By earmarking funds only for groups that promote marriage and 'responsible fatherhood,' grants would likely be awarded to right-wing groups. Congress and the vice president should not allow the fathers' rights movement to line their own pockets and advance their agenda with money that should be used to help poor children. We must do everything we can to stop it," Ireland said.