In 2007, Eric and Sandy Ehlers Mongerson divorced, and a Georgia trial judge awarded custody of their four children to Sandy and visitation rights to Eric. Inexplicably, the judge also held that Eric was “prohibited from exposing the children to his homosexual partners and friends.” Yesterday, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously threw out the trial judge’s ban:
There is no evidence in the record before us that any member of the excluded community has engaged in inappropriate conduct in the presence of the children or that the children would be adversely affected by exposure to any member of that community. The prohibition against 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…and constitutes an abuse of discretion.
Georgia law permits a family court judge to prohibit a non-custodial parent from exposing their child to an individual who could have an “adverse effect on the best interests of the children,” but only if there is actual evidence suggesting such an adverse effect. Yesterday’s decision reaffirms the simple truth that there is no evidence that children are harmed in any way whatsoever by interacting with gay men and lesbians.