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Equality in LGBTQ Divorce and Child Custody Cases

I recently handled a troubling case for a client, a middle-aged man who revealed he was gay and decided to leave his wife for his boyfriend, a man in his mid-20s.

The husband is a responsible, caring dad, but his ex-wife, angry and hurt by his revelation, sought to exploit the situation and use his homosexuality as a weapon in a bitter custody battle. She sought to argue that he should not be able to have contact with their children because he had made a poor decision to leave her for a young man.

The nation’s highest courts have been clear that same sex couple’s rights are constitutionally protected, yet this mother sought to use her ex-husband’s new relationship as a reason to prevent him from seeing his children.

I fought hard for this father and argued that his sexual preference was irrelevant. Had he left his wife for a younger woman or a woman of any age, there would have been no claim that he should lose his parental rights. The argument made in this case, frankly, smacked of bigotry and has no place in a courtroom or in our society.

All parents must be treated with the same civility and respect under the law, regardless of their gender or sexual identity. We live in a country where all are equal in the eyes of the law and same-sex marriage is the law of the land. The courts have spoken loudly and we need to make sure that we respect custody issues involving all parents, regardless of who they choose to express their love to, so long as they are a responsible and loving parent.

Custody cases in the LGBTQ community are no different than those involving straight families and we here at Army & Roche pledge to fight for equality for any parent, especially those whose rights are being challenged - explicitly or implicitly - because they are in a same-sex relationship.

The symbol of our court system is a blindfolded woman holding the scales of justice. This symbol represents the ideology that justice needs to be blind: blind to race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, gender and sexual preference. This symbol exists for very strong, constitutional reasons and we must always respect and honor its message.