Thursday, May 23, 2013

Outrage that a Judge in Texas Says a Gay Couple Cannot Live Together? – Not So Fast

Maybe Outrage is Required, Maybe Not – Details Matter

When this Forum saw this headline in the on-line issue of the Washington Post

Texas judge says lesbian couple can’t cohabitate, cites morality clause in divorce papers

it seemed a perfect time to excoriate the ugly prejudice of Texans against gay and lesbian couples.  After all, it took a Supreme Court decision to take away the power of Texas to jail gay and lesbian couples for the crime of being gay and lesbian couples.

But The Dismal Political Economist is nothing if not diligent, and so unlike many others who jump to conclusions, he actually read the story for the details.  It turns out this is probably not anti-gay bias.

A judge has ruled that a North Texas lesbian couple can’t live together because of a morality clause in one of the women’s divorce papers.

The clause is common in divorce cases in Texas and other states. It prevents a divorced parent from having a romantic partner spend the night while children are in the home. 

As the article ultimately points out, the clause is intended to single out gay couples.

Roach said the clause doesn’t target same-sex couples, adding that the language is gender neutral.

“It’s a general provision for the benefit of the children,” the judge said.

Now it is true that such a decree from a judge as part of a divorce settlement may be Unconstitutional because where does it say that government should be the judge of the morality on legal behavior,  and because gays cannot get married in Texas (non gay couples can get around the provision by getting married) the onus may fall unequally on gay couples.

But this does not appear to be gay bias, and the only bias here may be in the headline in the Washington Post, which is misleading and inflammatory.  But then the Post mostly gave up on responsible journalism years ago.

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