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Group demonstrates in Hagerstown for shared custody

October 10, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

A small group holding signs proclaiming a need for fathers' rights elicited honks from passing motorists Tuesday morning at the corner of Washington Street and Summit Avenue.

The Maryland Fathers Rights League is campaigning to make Maryland a mandated shared custody state, Edward W. Taylor Jr. said.

"Children need a mother and a father," said Taylor, president of the league.

When a couple divorces, women are almost always awarded custody, he said.

Single women raising children is not economically, socially or religiously beneficial to children, he said.

"Fathers are the bread winners. Always have been, are now, probably always will be," he said.

Jason Gimble spotted the rally and asked to join in. He picked up a sign and stood with about a dozen other men and women at the rally.

Gimble moved to Hagerstown from Frederick, Md., to be closer to his two children in hopes of seeing them more after a court awarded his wife sole legal custody, he said.

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Gimble wants to see his children more.

"It's just not as much as I need and they need," he said. "I didn't realize in the United States that they could take away your own flesh and blood."

Elizabeth Beaton, Washington County's regional director of the league, said her first priority is to protect children and to change laws so that fathers can parent their children.

The league is not fighting for deadbeat dads, but for parents who want to play an active part in their children's lives and cannot, she said.

Beaton's husband, Steve Beaton of Smithsburg, also joined the group Tuesday.

The court-ordered child support he pays increases so he must work more, and that actually reduces time he is able to spend with his children, Beaton said.

Fred E. Schermerhorn of Men and Women Against Discrimination, based in West Virginia, joined the Maryland league Tuesday. Mothers teach children nurturing and closeness while fathers teach empathy, so it is important that children have equal access to both parents, he said.

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