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.