A Republican Texas Judge has ordered a lesbian couple to live apart or give up custody of their children. According to Think Progress, Judge John Roach of McKinney, Texas has given Page Price 30 days to move out of the home she shares with Carolyn Compton and Compton’s two children from a previous marriage because he does not approve of Compton and Price’s “lifestyle.”
Roach has placed a “morality clause” in Compton’s divorce papers, which forbids Compton from having anyone she is not related to “by blood or marriage” in her home past 9:00 p.m. if the children are present. Same sex marriage is illegal in Texas, so by law, Compton cannot live with Price if she wishes to retain custody of her children.
Compton said that she and Price have been together for three years. Compton’s ex-husband rarely bothers to see the children and was previously arrested on charges of third-degree felony stalking in 2011, charges that he was able to plea down to criminal trespassing, a misdemeanor.
In a post on Facebook, Price wrote that Roach had inserted the morality clause into the divorce agreement when Compton’s ex-husband Joshua Compton attempted to gain custody of the children in 2011. The judge wrote that he disapproved of the two women’s “lifestyle.”
“Our children are all happy and well adjusted. By his enforcement, being that we cannot marry in this state, I have been ordered to move out of my home,” Price wrote.
The two women are working with attorneys to figure out what steps they can take to fight the state’s notoriously conservative court system.
Ken Upton Jr., senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, told the Dallas Voice newspaper that morality clauses are a holdover from a time when judges tried to keep people with children from living together outside of marriage. Courts often insert the clauses without telling the people involved, particularly in backward, conservative areas like Collin County, Texas.
“What the clause has become is an extra burden on gay people because they’re no more likely to violate it than straight people,” Upton told the Voice. “It’s a problem that continues with homophobia.”