A gay mom has spent six years barred from discussing her sexuality with her children.
But finally, the Washington State Supreme Court has ruled this is unconstitutional.
Rachelle Black came out as gay and filed for divorce from ex-husband Charles in 2011. A stay-at-home mom to their three sons, she moved out and Charles – a conservative Christian – received primary custody.
Their boys lived with him, and he had sole decision-making authority over their education and religious upbringing.
Rachelle was also ordered to ‘refrain from having further conversations with the children regarding religion, homosexuality, or other alternative lifestyle concepts.
The agreement also explicitly barred her from exposing her sons to LGBTI-related books, films or events, providing them with rainbow or ‘symbolic clothing or jewelry’.
She was also banned from ‘engaging in conduct that could reasonably be interpreted as being related to [LGBTI] topics, unless these activities were specifically approved by the children’s therapist.
Supreme Court rules this is unconstitutional
The Supreme Court ruled this was unconstitutional, as it ‘considered Rachelle’s sexual orientation as a factor’ and accused the lower court that allowed this of ‘improper bias’.
‘We are not confident the trial court here approached the parenting plan with an attitude of neutrality regarding sexual orientation that fairness demands,’ Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst said.
Child-custody attorney Kelly Theriot Leblanc, tasked with advocating for the boys, repeatedly referred to Rachelle’s orientation as a ‘lifestyle choice’.
She insisted: ‘[Christian] concepts and ideals the children [had] been taught throughout their lives [were] being eviscerated [by Rachelle’s coming out]’.
‘I understand that [Rachelle] is excited about her relationship and looking forward to moving forward with her life,’ LeBlanc wrote in her report to the court, ‘[but] she doesn’t seem to recognize that the children do not necessarily share that perspective’.
12-year-old son ‘loves mom no matter what’
Even though the children have appeared to have been purposefully entrenched in homophobia, it doesn’t appear they’ve worked out that way.
Testifying to the court, their therapist testified the 15-year-old was ‘still processing’ the news while the 12-year-old said he would ‘love [his] mom no matter what’. The seven-year-old is too ‘young to understand the situation.
The 12-year-old had previously asked Rachelle if he could wear her rainbow bracelet, which read ‘Love and Pride’.
‘If a parent’s sexual orientation is wrongfully considered in a child custody case, discrimination is baked in to every layer of that decision,’ said David Ward of Legal Voice, which argued Black’s case.
‘We applaud the Supreme Court for recognizing this, and we hope this decision will send a strong message to other courts: Discrimination against LGBTQ parents has no place in the courtroom.’