A letter to a misguided judge…

Dear Mr. Utah Judge,

Sometimes I am, admittedly, naive. I have always associated “justice” with my personal definition of a “judge”. I have defined a “judge” as a thoughtful academic, an individual who upholds the constitution of our great country- one who seeks to make decisions based on fairness and humanity. The decision you made last week, to remove a foster child from the care of a married lesbian couple, was not only unfair and inhumane, it was a slap directed to the faces of our Supreme Court justices who, like most honorable Americans, embrace marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Apparently, however,  you’ve had an epiphany. After the media backlash, you have rescinded your decision. You have allowed the couple to keep the child, with the understanding, as reported by CNN,  that there would be “further hearings”. You have temporarily appeased the masses, but these “future hearings” reek of suspicious motives…

Again, my naive mind wonders if it could be possible that you have truly changed your mind, and realized the error of your ways? Maybe you’ve had a sincere change of heart? As a believer in rehabilitation, I do believe everyone can change and make themselves better humans. In fact, if I were a judge, I would send you to my own sort of rehabilitation facility. I would order you get to know one of a million same-sex couples who are raising loving families. I can suggest a handful in my small world who would reshape your misguided prejudice.

These “two-mom” or “two-dad” families ARE traditional, Mr. Utah Judge. They love their children. They pray with their children. They go to sporting events and activities and cheer on their children. They provide kisses for booboos, hugs for tears, and consequences for misbehavior. They worry, they smile, and they live for their children. Their kids go to school and they come home and tell their two moms or two dads about the day’s activities. There is nothing untraditional about the way that these families raise their kids. They are human beings, and great parents.

You made your initial decision without knowing these two mothers. You, a judge who makes life and death decisions every day, threw away your impartiality in favor of discrimination. The implications of this sort of reckless disregard for the law is alarming.

But you corrected your error, Mr. Utah Judge, and for that, I am grateful. My internal optimism for humanity is willing to believe in you, cautiously of course. I am willing to take your backpedaling as a sign that you’ve come to your proverbial senses.  Thank you for that. Thank you for accepting the oath of your position which understands that “all men are created equal” in our country.

You have taken a step in the right direction. I encourage you to follow the laws, and refrain from allowing your own personal prejudices to corrupt your societal decisions. I hope that you will think of the best needs of the children in our communities, children who are loved and cared for by same-sex parents.

Stay on track, Mr. Utah Judge. Please help me, and others,  restore our faith in the judicial system of the United States. Discrimination is an unwelcome intruder in our courtrooms.

Sincerely,

Heidi Campbell

Corded window blinds kill. Please read and share.

October is “Window Covering Safety Month”. Most people would never know this, because they have no personal connection to the dangers of corded blinds. I didn’t either, until I learned what happened to a high school friend’s son.  In January of 2010, during naptime, Andrea’s son Daniel, who was three years old, strangled in the cords of the window blinds in his bedroom. Reading her story, following her heartache, and seeing photos of this beautiful boy who lost his life has moved me to share her story whenever I can, in hopes of preventing this tragedy for other families.

On  April 16, 2015, journalist Rick Schmitt wrote an in-depth article for fairwarning.org titled “Years of Talking, Kids Still Dying”. He wrote, “According to data compiled by the CPSC, at least 332 children, most of them under the age of two, have been fatally strangled by window cords over the last 30 years.  Another 165 have been injured, including some who suffered permanent brain damage or quadriplegia requiring lifelong care and therapy, according to the nonprofit group Parents for Window Blind Safety.”

To say the stories of these devastated families are heartbreaking doesn’t even scratch the proverbial surface. These families, like most of us, had no idea that a silent killer lurked in the rooms of their innocent babies.  They didn’t realize that these cords can kill in less than one minute. In one article I read, a mom left her 5 and 3 year old children playing in the playroom just long enough to make a bag of microwave popcorn. When she returned, her three year old was dead: strangled with blind cords.

The more I’ve read, the more enraged I become at the big-time window blind companies who are turning a blind eye to the research they are fully aware of. Schmitt’s article discusses the fact that these companies make a fortune selling corded blinds. He writes, “Corded blinds account for an estimated 75% of the industry’s roughly $2 billion in annual U.S. sales.”

Schmitt’s article really pinpoints the issue with the companies who manufacture the blinds when he cites an attorney:

 “They are not going cordless because they want to protect their profit margins,” said James Onder, a St. Louis lawyer who has filed, and settled, more than 50 lawsuits against the industry in 23 states related to children killed or injured by window blinds. “The industry has made a conscious decision that it is cheaper to pay off a lawsuit than it is to save human lives” by eliminating corded blinds, he said. – See more at: http://www.fairwarning.org/2015/04/as-window-blind-cords-strangle-toddlers-reforms-are-left-dangling/#sthash.L0D5hjm0.dpuf

A few years ago, I became a follower of the Facebook page titled “Parents for Window Blind Safety”, a non-profit organization who not only educates consumers, but they also fight for safer industry standards and support families who have lost children to corded blinds. They advocate companies, (Ikea most recently) who have opted to ban sales of corded blinds in their stores. This group raises awareness, supports education, and works to support the removal of corded blinds from store shelves. Parents Magazine, Consumer Reports, Fox News, CNN, The Today Show, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, USA TODAY and many other newspapers have advocated this organization, and helped to spread the important message of the dangers of corded blinds.

While I don’t have young children now, I have many friends who do. Hopefully one day, I will have grandchildren. We must all work together to ensure the future safety of our children. I have shared the danger of these corded blinds with friends, and will continue to share. I remember another chilling thought that I heard from someone, perhaps it was my friend Andrea, Daniel’s mom; the danger may be at a friend’s house, a friend whose family is unaware of the dangers.  The only way to ensure that these corded blinds do not take the lives of any more children is to raise awareness.

My heart truly grieves for the 332 children who have been strangled by corded blinds. None of these families knew the dangers. I certainly didn’t. I am horrified to recall that we had these cords in our kids’ bedrooms when they were little- in fact their cribs were near the windows.  This tragedy could occur in any house that hangs corded blinds. And, as every case indicates, it happens fast and silently.

Please spread the word. Take down corded blinds, and ensure that any house your child visits does the same. Be a life saver.

-HC