Monday, August 22, 2011

Texas Judge to Gay Father: Keep Your Kids Away from Other Men

Here is a pretty sad case.  William Flowers was married to a woman and they had three children together.  They later divorced and the ex-wife received custody of the children.  Later, Flowers married a man named Jim in Connecticut.  He subsequently filed unsuccessfully for custody in Harris County, Texas, but was awarded regular visitation.  Keep in mind when you read the following snippet that there have never been accusations of abuse towards the children by anyone by step-father Jim or any other man in Flowers' life:
Following the trial, Harris County Associate Judge Charley E. Prine, Jr. issued a ruling which included an injunction applicable only to William. It prohibits him from leaving his children alone with any male to whom the kids are not related by “blood or adoption.” So if, for example, William wants to visit his mother in the hospital (where she’s been for several weeks), he can’t leave his kids at home with his husband. As written, the injunction also prohibits male doctors, teachers and pastors from being alone with the children.

Attorneys who practice family law in Texas point out that in cases of abuse, it is common for courts to prevent children from being alone with specific people. But those same lawyers say that they’ve never heard of a case in which a step-parent or long-term partner is permanently enjoined from being alone with his or her step-children when abuse is not even alleged, let alone proven. No lawyer consulted for this story has ever heard of an order which prohibits children from being left alone with an entire gender...

Jennifer Broussard, William’s ex-wife’s lawyer, doesn’t believe that the order was motivated by bigotry. She confirmed that no allegation of abuse or neglect was made during the trial but insists that even in cases in which abuse is not alleged, injunctions such as the one issued here are common. In this case, she said, it was appropriate to enter the injunction whether William’s new spouse’s name “was Jim or Jane.”
Give me a break.  Have you ever in your entire life heard of children being cut off from an entire gender in the course of a child custody fight, much less a step-parent who has never been accused of abuse or neglect?  How is this decision "appropriate" outside of the fact that it doesn't affect your own client?

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