Imagine a scenario in which you are divorced, fall in love again, and move that person into your home. The person with whom you are in love is not a criminal and loves your kids. Your kids, in turn, love that person and your plan is that you will live in harmony with your happily adjusted children and your partner in the fine state of Texas. That is what a lesbian couple, Page Price and Carolyn Compton, had expected… until a judge informed the children’s mother that unless she kicked her loving partner out of her home she would lose those children.
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.
According to Price, the ex-husband, Joshua Compton, rarely sees his children and was also convicted of stalking his ex in 2011. Indeed, court records show that he was charged with third-degree felony stalking in 2011 but pleaded it down to a misdemeanor criminal trespassing charge. Price also claims that the judge added the ‘morality clause’ to her partner’s divorce because he did not agree with her lifestyle.The clause, in effect, bars the couple from living together unless they are married, which is impossible because same-sex marriage is not recognized in Texas. Apparently the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply in that courtroom.
Morality clauses are often added to divorce decrees, according to attorney Ken Upton Jr., especially in conservative areas. However, they often unfairly target homosexual couples because these couples cannot legally marry in Texas. So what is the couple supposed to do? They are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They already live together and the children have not suffered, but because this judge doesn’t agree with their lifestyle it’s now a problem? The judge doesn’t seem to take into consideration the ex-husband’s conviction or the happiness and best interests of the children, only his disapproval of homosexuality. How lovely! And Carolyn Compton and Page Price are not the only ones who have had clauses like this used against them.
In 2011, another couple faced a similar ruling after Harris County, Texas judge Charley Prine ruled that William Flowers could not leave his children alone with his husband (they were married in Connecticut) Jim Evans unless Flowers’ ex-wife consented. The couple appealed the ruling but it has not yet been decided.
It is outrageous that judges are making rulings where people could potentially lose their children because of their ‘lifestyles.’ Courts are not supposed to be biased, they are not supposed to apply some ridiculous religious morality code. These two cases highlight the importance of DOMA being overturned by the Supreme Court. Justice is supposed to be blind and the courts in Texas are demonstrating that it is clearly not blind if you are homosexual.
I find it disturbing that judges are allowing their ideologies to influence their rulings. It is completely and utterly homophobic to deny these people the rights that the rest of us are afforded because they choose to love a person of the same sex. Mothers and fathers should not have to worry about losing their kids because they don’t live up to some moral code that conservative judges are setting. In fact, it is totally mind-blowing that in 2013 we continue to discriminate against ANYONE. And make no mistake, this is discrimination.
If Carolyn and Jim were a couple and William and Page were a couple, this would be a moot point. They could get married and the marriage would be recognized by the state and they would not have the issues they have now. Everyone would live happily ever after with their happy children. Furthermore, who in the actual hell decides what is moral anyway? I think it is immoral to spread hate and fear. I think it is immoral to let religious beliefs seep into our court system. I think it is immoral to force people back into the closet. I think it is immoral to treat an entire segment of our society unequally and use their love as a weapon against them. But, more than that, it is a violation of the Constitutional rights afforded to the people of this country.