A ruling by Georgia’s Supreme Court to reject the custody agreement placed on a gay father has been heralded as a victory over “blatant discrimination”.
The original custody agreement had stated that Eric Mongerson could not let his children have any contact with any of his gay friends or partners.
Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Robert Benham said: “The prohibition against [the children having] contact with any gay or lesbian person acquainted with [Mongerson] assumes, without evidentiary support, that the children will suffer harm from any such contact.
“Such an arbitrary classification based on sexual orientation flies in the face of our public policy that encourages divorced parents to participate in the raising of their children.”
The legal organisation Lambda Legal issued a friend-of-the-court brief in February 2009, disputing the child custody restriction.
Lambda’s staff attorney Beth Littrell had argued that restrictions on custody arrangements should not be determined based on sexual orientation.
“Placing a blanket ban on children’s association with gay people not only hurts this father’s relationship with his children,” explained Littrell, “it is blatant discrimination.”
Speaking of the court’s decision, Littrell said: “The court has done the right thing today by focusing on the needs of the children instead of perpetuating stigma on the basis of sexual orientation.”