After 20 years of marriage, father of three Eric Mongerson came out as gay. In the court’s “Final Order,” filed in September of 2007, a blanket restriction was imposed on the father that prohibited him from “exposing his children to his homosexual partners and friends.”
Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case in February 2009, arguing on behalf of Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE) that restrictions in custody and visitation matters should not be determined based on sexual orientation and that court-ordered restrictions based on the sexual orientation of a parent’s friends and partner is contrary to state and federal law.
The Court agreed with Lambda Legal’s arguments in their opinion on this issue, ruling that, because there was no evidence that such a visitation restriction harmed the children, the imposed ban was arbitrary and contradicts existing public policy in the state. Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Robert Benham said:
“The prohibition against [the children having] 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.”
The case is Mongerson v. Mongerson.