Georgia Supreme Court Rejects Antigay Restriction in Custody Arrangement: Lambda Legal Applauds Opinion

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"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."
June 15, 2009

(Atlanta, GA, June 15, 2009) — The Georgia Supreme Court today agreed with Lambda Legal’s friend-of-the-court brief when it issued a decision that rejected a proposed antigay restriction in a custody arrangement involving a gay father.


Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Robert Benham said: “The prohibition against [the children having] contact with any gay or lesbian person acquainted with Husband assumes, without evidentiary support, that the children will suffer harm from any such contact. 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.”


“Placing a blanket ban on children’s association with gay people not only hurts this father’s relationship with his children — it is blatant discrimination,” said Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta. “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.”


In February 2009, Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case disputing a child custody agreement restriction which prohibited Eric Mongerson from “exposing his children to his homosexual partners and friends.” Lambda Legal argued on behalf of Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE) that restrictions on custody arrangements should not be determined based on sexual orientation and that restricting a child’s access to a parent’s gay acquaintances is unwarranted. The court’s decision today validated these arguments by determining that a blanket ban on Mongerson’s children having contact with his gay friends¬¬ — without direct evidence that the contact could adversely affect the children — is arbitrary and an abuse of the trial court’s discretion. Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, is lead counsel on the case for Lambda Legal.


The case is Mongerson v. Mongerson.


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Erin Baer 212-809-8585 ext 267; Email: ebaer@lambdalegal.org

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