The Supreme Court in Georgia, USA, has rejected a custody ruling which bans a gay father’s children from having any contact with his gay friends or partners.
Eric Mongerson and his ex-wife of 21 years, Sandy Kay Ehlers Mongerson, have four children, one of which is already an adult. In 2007, the Fayette County Superior Court granted the couple a divorce but stated that their three youngest children were to have no contact with their father’s gay acquaintances.
On Monday, Justice Robert Benham of the Supreme Court wrote, “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 Fayette County judge’s prohibition “assumes, without evidentiary support, that the children will suffer harm from any such contact,” Benham continues. “But there is no evidence that any member of the gay and lesbian community has engaged in inappropriate conduct in the presence of the children or that the children would be adversely affected by being exposed to members of that community,” he 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,” reacted Beth Littrell, a staff attorney for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund in Atlanta, to the ruling. She added that the judgment ensures that visitation decisions are “not based on the prejudices of individual judges.”