Texas Judge Orders Lesbian Couple to Split, Cites Morality Clause in Divorce Papers
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A lesbian couple in Texas is forbidden to live together because the law does not allow their marriage. A judge ordered the couple to split last month at a divorce hearing for one of the women, and cited a common morality clause forbidding a divorced parent from having a romantic partner spend the night while children are home. Marriage voids the legal provision, but for a lesbian couple in Texas, there is no such option.
The Dallas Morning News reported that in a divorce hearing last month for Carolyn and Joshua Compton, Collin County District Judge John Roach Jr. enforced the terms detailed in their 2011 divorce papers. He ordered Carolyn Compton’s partner, Page Price, to move out of the home they shared with the Comptons’ two daughters, ages 10 and 13. The judge gave Price 30 days to find another place to live.
Paul Key said his client, Joshua Compton, wanted the clause enforced for his kids’ benefit.
“The fact that they can’t get married in Texas is a legislative issue,” Key said. “It’s not really our issue.”
It is, however, his -- “our” -- issue. As the couple said in a statement, the clause “is a burden on parents, regardless of their sexual orientation, that takes away and unreasonably limits their ability to make parental decisions of whom their children may be around and unreasonably limits what the United State Supreme Court has identified as the liberty of thought, belief and expression.”
Judge Roach denied that the clause targets same-sex couples, saying the language is gender neutral.
“It’s a general provision for the benefit of the children,” he said, blatantly denying the fact that only straight couples can get out of it by marrying.
Page Price and Carolyn Compton said in a statement that the clause is unconstitutional, but that they would comply with the order “even though it will be disruptive to their family and has the potential of being harmful to the children.”
The order is applied to every divorce case filed in Collin County, Texas, and remains at play while the divorce is pending. The Clause was also added to the Comptons' final divorce decree, with no expiration date. That means Compton, should she continue to date women, may never be allowed a live-in partner.
Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne