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Forced Apart

Judge John Roach Jr.

Highlights from Hair Balls

Texas

A couple in McKinney, Texas, has been together for nearly three years. They've been together following one's messy divorce. They've helped raise the two young children that were on the receiving end of the acrimony following that split. After living under the same roof, the couple has, according to one of them, "a very happy and healthy home. Our children are happy and well adjusted."

But earlier this month, a Collin County judge, citing a "morality clause," decided to force one to move from the house in the course of the following 30 days. And while most couples would be able to circumvent such a ruling by getting married, thus abrogating the morality clause the judge cited, the two women in this relationship don't have that option. Same-sex marriage is still illegal in Texas. And per Judge John Roach Jr.'s ruling, Page Price and Carolyn Compton will be forced to live separately until the state's gay marriage ban is lifted.

The issue stems from a clause Compton signed following her 2011 divorce from Joshua Compton. According to the morality clause, Compton is not allowed to have anyone with whom she maintains a "dating or intimate relationship" at her house after 9 p.m. when children are present. As the Dallas Voice reports, morality clauses are almost never enforced — and even when they are, they present almost all other couples with the opportunity of marriage, thus nullifying the clause entirely.

However, Roach felt it necessary to enforce the clause — in 2013, we've determined it legally binding to withhold such freedoms? — and ordered Price to find new lodging within 30 days. As the Republican judge said, "It's a general provision for the benefit of the children." Right. For the children.

Compton and Price disagree. As Price wrote on her Facebook, "We will fight it all the way!...It is a clear violation of our civil rights. [The clause] is a burden on parents, regardless of their sexual orientation, that takes away and unreasonably limits their ability to make parental decisions of whom their children may be around and unreasonably limits what the United State Supreme Court has identified as the liberty of thought, belief and expression."

Since Compton's clause does not have any end date, the couple has few options. If they want to live with one another, they will have to either move to another state, one that allows gay marriage; wait until the children have moved out; or bide their time until Texas legalizes gay marriage. While we like to think the last option the most feasible — Texas has the 15th-highest percentage of same-sex couples raising children, after all — this ruling can't help but leave a bad taste in your mouth.


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