Judge Orders Gay Married Man Not to Leave Children Alone with His Husband, Or Anyone Else
When William and Lacey Flowers got divorced, she got custody of their three kids.
After William Flowers traveled to Connecticut to remarry in 2010 -- this time, to a man -- he tried again to get custody. But he didn't get the kids. Instead, some say he got a heaping pile of homophobia.
A jury denied Flowers's request for custody of his twin nine-year-old girls and 14-year-old boy. But the verdict came back with a little something extra.
In an injunctive section, Judge Charley Prine ordered that Flowers cannot leave his children with any man who isn't part of the family "by blood or adoption" without Lacey's express permission.
Male babysitters, doctors, neighbors -- not to mention Jim Evans, Flowers's husband -- were barred from exclusive contact with the children. This isn't common stuff, and GLBT media pounced on the story. About the same time that word was getting out, the judge changed the language in the order again. Now, "leaving or placing the children in the care of any [emphasis added] person not related to the children by blood or adoption" is forbidden, without approval by Lacey.
Evans, who is a family attorney, said he has never come across so restrictive an order, especially without the order naming any cause or wrongdoing. Flowers has never been charged with a crime. "It's unheard of," he said. "If somebody gets sick and has to go to the doctor, he can't just take them to the doctor. He has to take all of them."
"It's not totally exclusive," said Jennifer Broussard, Lacey's attorney. "Lacey can agree to do otherwise. It's just these unknown people about whom William will not divulge any information to Lacey -- that just can't happen."
Was she referring to William Flowers's husband, Jim Evans? Hair Balls asked.
"Well, he doesn't have a husband in Texas, dear," Broussard said.
Evans said that his husband hasn't asked Lacey for permission to allow him as an exception, and that he doesn't plan to. "She would never ever let the kids be left with me," he said. "It will never happen." The two don't get along, he said. Lacey charged her husband with assault twice. The 2003 case was dismissed, and in the 2004 case, Flowers was found not guilty.
Now, she holds all the cards.
If Evans ever had a gay client who wanted to ask for custody in courtroom 309, where Flowers's case remains, he said he would advise against it. "You may lose, and if you lose, the judge is going to take away all your rights with your kids," he explained.
About 20 of Flowers's supporters showed up in front of the family courts Friday, holding flowers and signs protesting Judge Prine's order. "It's somewhere between outrageous and unbelievable," said Steve Hartung, half of an elderly couple who attend Flowers's and Evans's church.
Diana Sims, an attorney, said she's never seen anything like this. "For the judge to slam him like this for no reason whatsoever is just pure homophobia," she said.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.