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The Georgia Supreme Court threw out a judge’s order that prohibited children in a divorce case from having contact with their father’s gay and lesbian friends.
The ruling is hailed by gay rights advocates who say the decision focuses on the needs of children instead of perpetuating a stigma on the basis of sexual orientation.
According to ajc.com: The state high court’s decision overturned Fayette County Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards’ blanket prohibition against exposing the children to their father’s gay partners and friends.
“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,” Justice Robert Benham wrote.
Gay father in Georgia fights limits on visits with kids
The order was entered Oct. 1, 2007, by Fayette County Superior Court Judge Christopher Edwards as part of the divorce case between Eric Mongerson and Sandy Ehlers. Mongerson has appealed this issue and several others to the Georgia Supreme Court.
Edwards ordered that neither of the parents could have “overnight company with a member of the opposite sex, or with any person deemed to be a paramour, unrelated by blood or marriage, in the presence of a child.”
One sentence later Edwards wrote: “Additionally, defendant is prohibited from exposing the children to his homosexual partners and friends.”
In his appeal, Mongerson’s attorneys write that such an order was an abuse of the court’s discretion.
“There was no evidence presented that and the court made no finding that exposing the parties’ children to any of Appellant’s homosexual friends would adversely affect the best interests of the children,” according to the appeal. “Therefore, such a prohibition on appellant’s homosexual friends is an abuse of discretion.”
According to the final order in the case, Mongerson gets visitation with the two youngest children once a week for four hours on his day off from work in addition to two separate one-week visitation periods during summer vacation and the day before or after each child’s birthday.
Edwards ordered Mongerson to pay $1,276 a month in child support along with $800 a month in spousal support until Ehlers dies, remarries or gets a bachelor’s degree. The order also requires her to prove each year that she is still enrolled in college at least part time and making passing grades.