Houston Judge Limits Rights of Gay Father

Posted: August 25, 2011 in family law

A Houston judge entered an order on June 24 which prohibits a father from leaving his children alone with any man they aren’t related to “by blood or adoption.” Because there was no allegation of abuse in the case, family law practitioners say the order is an unheard of infringement on the rights of parents and a judicial condemnation of the fact that the man, William Flowers, is not only gay but married to his partner, Jim Evans.

William and Jim were married on March 19, 2010 in Connecticut, one of seven states which recognize same-sex unions. It was a second marriage for both.  William was divorced in 2004 and he and his ex-wife agreed that their 3 children should live with her.  William filed for a change in custody recently and after the trial, Judge Charlie E. Prine Jr. issued a ruling which included an injunction applicable only to William.  It prohibits him from leaving his children alone with any male to whom the kids are not related by “blood or adoption.” S o if, for example, William wants to visit his mother in the hospital (where she’s been for several weeks), he can’t leave his kids at home with his husband.  As written, the injunction also prohibits male doctors, teachers and pastors from being alone with the children.

Lawyers who practice family law in Houston (and requested anonymity) described the order as patently anti-gay.  Jennifer Broussard, William’s ex-wife’s lawyer, doesn’t believe that the order was motivated by bigotry. She confirmed that no allegation of abuse or neglect was made during the trial but insists that even in cases in which abuse is not alleged, injunctions such as the one issued here are common. In this case, she said, it was appropriate to enter the injunction whether William’s new spouse’s name “was Jim or Jane.”

Austin family law attorney Jennifer Cochran might have greater insight. After being read the injunction, Cochran said that not only had she never seen such an order, the provision is “just not reasonable.” The fact that William can’t leave the children alone with any man to whom they aren’t related by blood or adoption “strikes at the very heart of the fact that he’s gay…it’s judicial activism, legislating from the bench,” and has nothing to do with protecting the best interests of the children, said Cochran.

Williams is appealing and it will be interesting to see what happens with the appeal.

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