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May 20 2013

Using the morality clause to split up gay couples

I wrote two weeks ago how the acceptance of adoption of children by same-sex couples preceded that of same-sex marriage because courts changed the standard for awarding custody to that of the best interests of the child. So as people started coming out openly as gay following a divorce, courts did not automatically disqualify them from gaining custody. But unfortunately, the best interests of the child can sometimes be used against gay couples because courts, especially in conservative parts of the country, often insert a ‘morality clause’ into divorce settlements, often without the parties knowing.

A judge in Texas has used such a clause to force the lesbian partner of a custodial parent to move out of the house they shared.

Page Price and Carolyn Compton have been together for almost three years, but a Collin County judge is forcing them apart.

Judge John Roach Jr., a Republican who presides over the 296th District Court, enforced the “morality clause” in Compton’s divorce papers on Tuesday, May 7. Under the clause, someone who has a “dating or intimate relationship” with the person or is not related “by blood or marriage” is not allowed after 9 p.m. when the children are present. Price was given 30 days to move out of the home because the children live with the couple.

Why this is unfair is that while a divorced heterosexual person can marry their new partner and thus satisfy the morality clause, Texas does not allow same sex marriage. So Price and Compton have no choice but to ‘live in sin’. It is also not clear how often these clauses are inserted in the divorce settlements of heterosexual people or enforced in those cases.

The case will be appealed.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    TGAP Dad

    I wonder how the court would feel if the couple got married in a state allowing same-sex marriage and returned to their Texas residence? While Texas does not recognize SSM, if DOMA is struck down, they would have no choice but to properly recognize those marriages performed elsewhere. It seems like the court could even rely on the appeals court decisions, even though they are from different districts, to recognize the marriage pending adjucation of DOMA by SCOTUS.

  2. 2
    coragyps

    I love it here in Texas!!!!

    “dating or intimate relationship” with the person or is not related “by blood or marriage”

    So exchange students, boarders, and live-in au pairs and maids are illegal here now? W?T?F?

  3. 3
    lochaber

    What was that about small government again?

    Also, I’m wondering if they are sending around CPS to check in on these people and making sure no one is sleeping over after 2100. How does this work for unmarried straight folk with kids? Can a divorced parent have random boarders in their house so long as they don’t bang them?

    seriously, fuck Texas

  4. 4
    steve84

    Not the first time something like this happened. There have been other judges who order a gay person not to have their partner around their children.

    Only in Amurika

  5. 5
    smrnda

    I dislike the whole ‘morality clause’ since certain matters of morality are personal preferences and the government should not promote one such morality over the other. The government should only be concerned with what is legal or illegal. A ‘morality clause’ is just a blank check for the government to punish people for doing all sorts of legal things.

  6. 6
    Matt G

    When I think of morality, I ask “who, or what, is harmed?” I would like to know how these people see harm in a consensual romantic relationship. These same people seem to ignore REAL harm in the form of domestic violence and psychological and emotional abuse (which always seems to be the woman’s fault…).

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