WATCH: Protesters gather at Houston courthouse as judge signs order limiting gay dad’s rights

Pro-LGBT protesters gathered outside the civil courthouse in Houston on Friday.
William Flowers, top left, and Jim Evans, who were married in Connecticut last year, have five children between them.

A while back we told you about a Harris County associate judge’s order barring a gay man from leaving his children alone with his husband. On Friday, protesters gathered outside the civil courthouse in Houston (above) as Judge Charley Prine signed the order, which he first issued in June.

William Flowers married his husband, Jim Evans, in Connecticut last year. Flowers has three children — a 14-year-old boy and twin 9-year-old girls — from his marriage to Lacey Flowers, which ended in divorce in 2004 after he came out as gay. Evans also has two children from a previous marriage.

When William Flowers tried to get full custody of his three children, a jury ruled against him. Then Prine issued the order barring the kids from being alone with Evans — or anyone who isn’t related to them by blood or adoption — without Lacey Flowers’ consent.

There are no allegations of abuse in the case, and Williams Flowers says he believes the judge is trying to punish him for being gay. Prine has declined to comment, and the couple says their only recourse is to appeal to a higher court.

A Facebook page has been launched calling for Prine’s removal from the bench. There’s also a petition at Change.org. Watch a video report from ABC 13 below.

—  John Wright

Associate judge in Houston bars gay man’s children from being alone with his husband

Associate Judge Charley Prine

In what appears to be a case of anti-gay judicial activism, an associate judge in Houston issued an order preventing a gay man’s children from being alone with his partner — or anyone who isn’t related to them by blood or adoption — despite the fact that there are no allegations of abuse.

The Houston Chronicle‘s Geoff Berg has the story:

William [Flowers] and Jim [Evans] were married on March 19 of last year in Connecticut, one of seven states which recognize same-sex unions. It was a second marriage for both.

When William and his ex-wife divorced in 2004, they agreed that their three children would live with her. Wanting to change the arrangement, William recently filed for custody in Harris County. A jury found that she should keep the kids, though his regular visitations would continue. Neither William nor his ex-wife alleged that the children had been abused or were in any danger of being abused.

Following the trial, Harris County Associate Judge Charley E. Prine, Jr. issued a ruling which included an injunction applicable only to William. It prohibits him from leaving his children alone with any male to whom the kids are not related by “blood or adoption.” So if, for example, William wants to visit his mother in the hospital (where she’s been for several weeks), he can’t leave his kids at home with his husband. As written, the injunction also prohibits male doctors, teachers and pastors from being alone with the children.

Attorneys who practice family law in Texas point out that in cases of abuse, it is common for courts to prevent children from being alone with specific people. But those same lawyers say that they’ve never heard of a case in which a step-parent or long-term partner is permanently enjoined from being alone with his or her step-children when abuse is not even alleged, let alone proven. No lawyer consulted for this story has ever heard of an order which prohibits children from being left alone with an entire gender.

Needless to say, Flowers plans to appeal the decision.

In his LinkedIn profile, under Groups and Associations, Associate Judge Prine lists the Republican National Committee, the Republican National Committee Alumni Employees and the Republican National Lawyers Association. On his Facebook page, Prine’s Activities and Interests include Rick Perry for President 2012.

—  John Wright