Arkansas appeals panel says placement with father was not due to woman’s sexuality, but instability in the home
LITTLE ROCK The Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday, April 11, that the decision to remove a child from his lesbian mother’s custody was not related to the woman’s sexual orientation but to instability in the home.
Judges upheld a lower court decision to remove Lisa Holmes’ 8-year-old son from her custody and place him with his father, Joseph Holmes.
A Union County Circuit Court in 2005 decided to change custody and ruled that Lisa Holmes had violated a court order following the divorce that neither parent cohabitate outside of marriage. The court also said Lisa Holmes had a “lack of residential, employment, financial and moral stability.”
In her appeal, Holmes argued that her sexual orientation should have had no bearing on the lower court’s decision.
According to the ruling, Lisa and Joseph Holmes divorced in 2001 and the court allowed Lisa Holmes to keep custody of their son if she agreed to no longer live with her fiancee outside of marriage.
At a 2005 hearing, Lisa Holmes admitted she had had six sexual partners, three men and three women since the divorce and that her son had met all of her partners.
At the time of the hearing, Lisa Holmes was living with her first cousin and romantic partner, Kimberly Duncan. Joseph Holmes, meanwhile, had remarried, according to the ruling.
Lisa Holmes told the court that she received $129 a month in food stamps and that Duncan received $226 in stamps a month. She said that she worked as a substitute teacher at South Arkansas Community College and at Union School, but could not estimate her monthly income. She also said she did not know when she would be called upon to teach, the ruling said.
Joseph Holmes argued that his son living with Lisa Holmes was detrimental to his mental health and well being.
He argued that he had a right to raise his son in “a heterosexual environment.”
In his ruling, Union County Circuit Court Judge Michael Landers did not mention Lisa Holmes’ sexual orientation but said courts “have never condoned a parent’s promiscuous conduct or lifestyle when such lifestyle has been in the presence of a child.”
In the court’s decision Wednesday, Judge Wendell Griffen wrote that the custody ruling did not turn on the mother’s sexual orientation.
“The record is replete with evidence of appellant’s lack of financial, residential, and employment stability. Appellant has had multiple residences,” said Griffen, who noted that Holmes was dependent on Duncan. “This evidences little effort by appellant to maintain a stable life for her son.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 13, 2007