Denver Vigil For Anamarie Martinez-Regino

RMNAAFA has joined other groups throughout the country in holding a candlelight vigil for Anamarie Martinez-Regino. The vigil was held on Thursday, September 14, 2000.

 We held a vigil on the steps of the State Capital building on Thursday evening. The vigil started at 7:30pm and lasted approximately one hour. We had special speakers, including Paul Campos, and then opened the mic up to people from the "audience" in order for people to share their thoughts on the issue.

Denver Vigil News Coverage

As the vigil was breaking up, and many people had already gone home, KMGH 7 news arrived with a film crew.

 The coverage on Channel 7 was brief, but fair and balanced. They avoided either saying that the state was right to do this, or that we were right to object to it. They opened with file footage (actually still pictures) of AnaMarie, with a voice over done by Bertha Lynn about how the girl had been taken from her parents. Then, they cut to a shot of our chapter on the capitol steps. Everyone looked great, the photography was very flattering. The voice over continued, with and explanation of who we were, and the fact that NAAFA was asking that the girl be returned to her parents. Then, there was a brief statement from Patti, about how the most important thing in a young child's life is her loving family.

 Bertha Lynn was very respectful during the entire story. At the end, she stated that noone was really sure why the girl was so large.

 Feel free to tell Channel 7 that their coverage of this story was professional and respectful.

Other Vigils

Here is a place where you can read about other vigils for Anamarie Martinez-Regino. If it is not possible for you to make it to one of the vigils, and least visit the virtual vigil.

Case Background

AnaMarie picture This 3 year old girl has been taken from her parents. Why? Because she is fat.

 That's it. No other reason. Because she is fat.

 The New Mexico Department of Social Services has obviously decided that being fat is a crime. Furthermore, allowing your child to be fat is a crime. And the crime of allowing your child to be fat is punishable by having that child taken away from you, and made a ward of the state.

 This should frighten every parent in America, whether your child is fat or thin or somewhere in between. What the arrogant bureaucrats have now decided is that the appearance of your child is enough to warrant taking the child away from you.

 Get your 6 -year old girl's ears pierced? Too young! BAM! she's gone. Let your pre-teen die his hair green? BAM! Off to state camp with him.

 This is terrifying. What and how I feed my child is no one else's business, unless it clearly and directly threatens their health, which is obviously not the case here. A few extra pounds, especially in a toddler (or for that matter, anyone up to a young adult), has 0 impact on health. All of the things that they pretend happen when you are fat are diseases that don't even show up until much later in life.

 So, if I live in a liberal community, can they take away my kid for feeding him red meat? If I live in a conservative community, can they take him away for not feeding him red meat? If I'm Jewish, can they take him away from me for feeding him a Kosher diet?

 Of course, it is more of a concern to anyone who is fat, or anyone whose child is fat. Because in a society that will tolerate almost anything else in a person's behavior, being fat is the one thing that cannot be allowed.

 The state has made numerous excuses about how the child's health is in danger, about how she must loose weight at any cost. They choose to ignore the fact that the girl has been diagnosed three times with three different conditions, and that the present diagnose has no more evidence to support it than the previous two. They choose to ignore the fact that the parents have had the girl under medical supervision for most of her short life. They choose to ignore the fact that the day she was torn, screaming and crying, from her mother's arms she was already in the hospital, (for no other reason than that she was fat). They also choose to ignore the fact that the child is significantly taller than her peers. I suppose the parents, or what the girl has been fed, are somehow responsible for that as well.

 So, part of the child's punishment for being larger than her peers is that this 3 year old girl has been put on a starvation level liquid diet. Forget about the fact that her brain, her nervous system, her bones, her heart, and her lungs are not yet fully developed. Gotta get her nice and skinny first. If she has health problems the rest of her life because of her malnutrition in her formative years, that doesn't matter. At least she'll look like the state has decided she should.

 Obviously, our understanding of nutrition is still very primitive. Part of the reason that fields like physics and engineering have made such enormous progress is that we have the luxury of studying systems that are in their simplest and purest form. Human biochemistry is infinitely more complex than anything in electronics or physical sciences. Consequently, we are still like children wondering around in the library.

 There is no chance whatsoever that some synthetic compound provides everything that a human body needs. Now, adults can get away with denying their bodies a lot more than a young, growing child can. Beyond that, most adults will just break the stupid diet when their body complains enough. But, this child does not have that option--she could be starving to death, and couldn't do anything about it.

 The fat acceptance community has rallied to the support of this child and her family, but it is not likely to be enough. We need every parent who reads about this case to raise their voice, and let it be known that children will not be taken from their parents simply on the basis of their appearance.

The Final Word (We Hope)

AnaMarie is now home with her parents where she belongs, where she has always belonged. The aftermath of this case, however, leaves us with some very disturbing questions.

 We are left with the disturbing question of why New Mexico has a rate of 18 times the national average in separating children from their parents, for whatever reason. We are left with the disturbing question of whether this is an agency that is completely out of control.

 We are left with the disturbing question of whether anyone will be held culpable for this tragedy. A young girl was taken from her family, and probably traumatized for life, leaving her with both separation issues and food issues. The forced dieting is likely to leave her with little hope of ever having a healthy relationship with food. But, the emotional scars from being taken from her parents, and forced into the care of strangers for what was an eternity to one so young are even more frightening. And yet, no one at the state of New Mexico is being held accountable.

 We are left with the disturbing question of why the authorities have refused to publish her weight now, when they were so anxious to publish it before. Of course, we know the answer to this question--she regained all of the weight that she lost while on the liquid diet, and then some. Anyone who knows the first thing about dieting knew that she was going to gain that weight back before the state ever decided to experiment on her. If she hasn't gained the weight back, why is the state now interested in covering her weight up?

 We are left with the disturbing question of whether the state is really done with this family. The web page produced by AnaMarie's godmother includes the statement "she is home for now". Is she still under supervision? Is she still at risk to be abducted again? Why is the family still forbidden from taking about this case? We are left with the question of what this means to parents of fat children throughout the country. Have we now established the precedent that your child can be drug away by the sheriff for no other reason than that they are fat? Is a child being overweight now grounds for separation from their family? The day our son was born, he was at the 98 percentile for newborn weight, and has been at or above that percentile for the last 9 years. Are they going to start taking newborns away from their mothers if their birth weight is too high?

 Finally, we are left with the question of what this means for fat people in general. If they can make a child a ward of the state for no other reason than that she is fat, then it is a small step to do this to adults. Don't kid yourself. The atmosphere in this country already says that doctors should force their patients to loose weight, no matter what the consequences are to their health. It is already the case that the FDA will approve a diet drug, even if there are known, potentially fatal side effects. Employers are sued for harassment in the workplace based on gender or race, because this is against the law. But, the very same Congress that passed this law debates a bill which would encourage "workplace interventions" for fat people. In other words, instead of the law discouraging workplace harassment based on weight, it would require it. It is a small step before they start taking adults out of the workplace and off the streets, and interring them in fat camps "for their own good".

 Yes, AnaMarie is back with her folks, and that was what was important. We should breath a sigh of relief. But, I don't think that we should celebrate.

RMNAAFA's Involvment

This material appeared in our newsletter, and it complments the rest of this page well enough that it is reproduced virtually verbatim. Thanks to Patti Kelly.

 RMNAAFA has taken a proactive stance in the wellbeing and rights of Anamarie Martinez-Regino. As most of you know this 3-year-old was taken away from her family by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. Seeing a clear a violation of this young child's rights as well as the rights of her family, RMNAAFA took several actions. We launched a letter writing campaign, held a vigil for Anamarie one the Colorado State Capitols steps, we circulated and sent in the Anamarie petition, and have sent funds to The Anamarie Legal Defense Fund.

 The on September 14th a vigil was held by RMNAAFA on the State Capitol steps and was a success. We had a small gathering of members and two nonmembers participated as well. Those who wanted to voice their concerns over the treatment of Anamarie and her family were given the microphone to voice their protest. One member who could not be present sent his message and it was read in proxy. Paul Campos, professor of Law at the University of Colorado and columnist for the Rocky Mountain News was present and addressed the group. Local ABC affiliate KMGH 7 News sent reporter Sean McLaughlin and a cameramen to cover the event. On that evenings ten o'clock news they ran their coverage of our vigil and presented our position in a positive light. RMNAAFA member Jeff Stripling (this months member spotlight) also video taped the event and we hope to show both the KMGH coverage as well as Jeff's tape at our November meeting.

 See the attached list of addresses that RMNAAFA wrote to in protest of this blatant miscarriage of justice and human rights violation. The Governor of the State of New Mexico was sent two separate letters addressing our concerns and several members have sent their own, personal letters of protest to the Governor as well as others on the list. RMNAAFA hopes that those of you that could not participate in the letter writing campaigns at our last two meeting would write letters on your own. If you would like to see what RMNAAFA has sent please write me at with the subject line "Anamarie" and I will forward you what we have sent as a chapter.

 At our September meeting Co-Chair Leslie Curtis suggested that we send money to the Anamarie Legal Defense Fund. Our September meeting was one of the smallest meetings this year but even with that we collected 41.00 to send the defense fund from RMNAAFA. Those of you that would like to help with this fund can send checks or money orders to: Anamarie's Legal Defense Fund, 200 Lomas N.W., Albuquerque, N.M. 87102 c/o Larry Willard and Jed Fanning. It is our understanding that the attorney and his wife Troy and Leslie Prichard are helping the family for free. None of this money will be used for attorney fees but rather fees needed to help in her defense. For instance the University of New Mexico which has been responsible for Anamarie's medical evaluation while she has been in states custody wanted to charge the family five hundred dollars for copies of her medical records. The money will be used for fees such as this and other court and defense related costs.

 The Anamarie petition states "We the undersigned citizens of the United States hereby demand that a grand jury be impaneled to inquire into tactics routinely practiced by the New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Families in their use of public monies to undermine constitutional authority and to further the destruction of fundamental parent rights." This petition was circulated at our Halloween party and was mailed to The Coalition for Anamarie's Petition, 515 Shirk Lane S.W., Albuquerque, NM 871005. Those of you that could not be at the Halloween party but would like to sign the petition you can do that here.

 An announcement was made on October 19th a settlement had been reach that would return Anamarie to her family. On the surface this sounds like wonderful news, after all that is what we had hoped for, her safe return to her parents. Upon closer examination things may not be so cheery. The truth is it may take three weeks or longer for Anamarie to be reunited with her family. We have heard that as stipulations for her release her family would not hold the State of New Mexico responsible for any of their actions. Waiving their rights, her family may not be able to hold the State of New Mexico responsible for their actions. RMNAAFA feels Anamarie was taken unjustly from her family. Waiving their rights may keep them from holding the State of New Mexico liable for the unjust removal of their child. Certainly Anamarie is better off at home with her family but the bigger picture here is can such a thing happen again? If the State of New Mexico is not held responsible for their actions in such a case what will stop them from taking other children from their homes unjustly?

 One of the big problems in reporting the status of this case is there was an apparent "gag" order in place made by the Judge assigned to this case. The family and others involved in the case were not allowed to reveal any details of the proceedings. Fear of violating the gag order kept family members from reporting on Anamarie's status. As with any such story there have been conflicting reports of Anamarie's status and the court proceedings. Reports of Anamarie's weight lose have ranged from 5 pounds to something in the low twenties. Reports are that she has been put back on solid foods and whatever weight she lost has returned. The reports of the stipulations the State has made on the family (releasing the state's responsibility) are just that, reports. I have not read the agreement signed by the family and am stating here only what I have heard from people close to this matter. I cannot substantiate any of these claims and relate them here to illustrate how varied reports can be and that we need to take any reports with a grain of salt.

 Clearly the treatment of Anamarie should be a wake up call to all of us. Whether we are people of size, parents of children of size or simply standout from the norm for any reason we need to examine government's power over our rights. We need to continue to fallow this case and see that Anamarie and her family are treated fairly. We need to shine light on any government agency that misuses power and strips us of our human rights. We need to educate society about obesity and how medical science is lacking in information for why some people are much larger then others as well in lacking in healthy, proven, long term methods for reduction of weight. We need to continue to voice our rights as people of size. We need to continue to illustrate how beneath our outward appearances we are human beings subject to the same rights granted to people of smaller size. We need to be proud of ourselves and continue to show the world that people of size matter and make a difference in this world.

Parties involved in the case

Here are some of the parties which may be contacted in reference to this case. Don't be afraid to let your voice be heard.

 Governor Gary E. Johnson
Office of the Governor
State Capitol Building, #400
Santa Fe, NM 87503
(505) 827-3000 (505) 827-3026
Contact via the web

 The Governor of New Mexico describes himself as a "libertarian". The question that must be directed towards him is how anyone with a libertarian conscience can allow this flagrant violation of the rights of both this little girl and her parents. The issue, from that perspective, is not what is "best for the child". The issue is whether it should be her parents' right to decide what is best for their own little girl.

 Children Youth & Families Department
Deborah Hartz, Secretary
P.O. Drawer 5160
Santa Fe, NM 87502-5160
(505) 827-7602 Fax (505) 827-4053

We have been advised that it is very counterproductive to contact the presiding judge in this matter. For this reason, his contact information has been removed from this page.

New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid
P.O. Drawer 1508
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1508
Phone:(505) 827-6000
Fax: (505) 827-5826

State Capitol Bldg., Rm. 417, Santa Fe 87503
PHONE (505) 827-3050
FAX (505) 827-3057
In-State Toll Free 1-800-432-4406

491 Old Santa Fe Trail, Rm. 117, Santa Fe 87501-2753
PHONE (505) 827-6465
TDD 827-6329
FAX 827-6328
In-State Toll Free 1-877-696-1470

The Albuquerque Journal
7777 Jefferson Street NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109-4360
(505) 823-3800
e-letters to the editor

The New Mexico Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers,
National Association of Social Workers
1503 University Avenue N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87105
(505) 247-2336

Press Coverage Of The Case

Here is some of the coverage of this case which has already appeared in the press:
  1. Anamarie's godmother's Site.
  2. Paul Campos's column in The Rocky Mountain News.
  3. A reply to the Campos column from one of RMNAAFA's Officer's .
  4. A Denver Post editorial.
  5. Coverage in the Albuquerque Journal.
  6. ABC News coverage of the case.

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