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Georgia court tells gay dad he cannnot “expose” kids to homosexuals

PinkNews Staff Writer February 18, 2009

A gay man in the US state of Georgia is disputing a child custody agreement restriction which prohibits him from “exposing his children to his homosexual partners and friends.”

Lambda Legal, a gay rights advocacy group, yesterday filed an amicus brief in support of Eric Mongerson at the Georgia Supreme Court.

The brief argues that restrictions on custody arrangements should not be determined based on sexual orientation and that no evidence exists that contact with gay acquaintances of their father is harmful.

“The court should do what it always does in divorce cases with custody issues, which is to focus on the needs of the children,” said Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office.  

“Placing a blanket ban on “exposure” to gay people hardly helps a gay dad maintain his relationship with his children.

“What the ban does do is perpetuate prejudice and stigma against an entire group of people based solely on their sexual orientation, and that is just plain wrong.

“This order hinders Mr Mongerson’s ability to maintain his relationship with his children as he is under a court order to treat other gay people as pariahs based solely on their sexual orientation.”

In a similar case in Tennessee a divorced mother of two Angel Chandler approached the state Court of Appeals in December to allow her to have her female partner stay overnight.

Ms Chandler, who has been with her partner for almost a decade, is appealing against a child custody restriction known as a paramour clause, in which she is not permitted to have her lover stay overnight if her children are present.

Ms Chandler claims that Chancellor George Elliss of the 28th Judicial District in West Tennessee imposed the restriction, despite this not having been requested by the children’s father.

“We lived together in a stable, functioning family, and this was rather shocking to all of us,” she said.

“This is about the person we choose to be with, not about what my ex-husband asked for or what’s in the best interest of the children.

“The judge decided to interfere, and it’s had a very negative affect in our lives.”

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) spokesman Paul Cates said that paramour clauses such as these often affect gay and lesbian parents because same-sex civil unions are not permitted in the state.

More: Americas

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