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'Morality Clause' May Be Next Battleground in Texas Gay Marriage

'Morality Clause' May Be Next Battleground in Texas Gay Marriage

A Texas judge has ordered a lesbian couple with kids to break up, because one of the women was previously married to a man, who inserted a 'morality clause' into their divorce decree, 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports.

 

  The clause, which is not unusual in divorce settlements, forbids the mother from 'cohabitating or having romantic visitors stay overnight' when the children are present, unless the woman and the 'romantic visitor' are married.

 

  Since gay marriage is illegal in Texas, that means the lesbian couple cannot live together, a judge has ruled.

 

  San Antonio divorce attorney Amber Liddell says rulings like this may force a change in the state's Constitutional Amendment banning gary marriage.

 

  "A judge is going to look at this order and say, unless you're married, I am going to have to enforce this order," she said.  "So this means the courts may look at it differently."

 

  Texas courts, unlike courts in California and other states, have been unwilling to delve into the issue of gay marriage, and the current session of the Legislature has refused to legalize gay 'civil unions, let along gay marriages.

 

  Liddell says courts, however, are very sensitive to any violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

 

  "This means same sex couples are getting different treatment from opposite sex couples."

 

  She says at the very least, this case will lead to tighter scrutiny of so called 'morality clauses' in all divorce settlements.

 

 

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