A Colorado judge has ordered a mother not to expose her daughter to "teaching... that can be considered homophobic."

Cheryl Clark, who left a lesbian relationship in 2000 after converting to Christianity, was ordered by Denver County Circuit Judge John Coughlin to "make sure that there is nothing in the religious upbringing or teaching that the minor child is exposed to that can be considered homophobic."

Dr. Clark filed her appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals last week.

Her former lover, Elsey McLeod, was awarded joint custody of the child, an 8-year-old girl who is Dr. Clark's daughter by adoption. ...

"Elsey never adopted this child. It's an egregious situation because the court is giving custody to someone who is not related to the child and has not adopted the child," Mr. Staver [a lawyer with Liberty Counsel] said.

The judge awarded joint custody, despite the fact that the former lover did not officially adopt the child.

Mathew Staver, a lawyer speaking for Dr. Clark, goes on:

"The mother is a Christian, and that's a major part of her lifestyle," he said. "She would be prohibited from reading her daughter Romans 1 or anything in the Bible on sexual fidelity in marriage, going to Bible study, or listening to a sermon on marriage or fidelity."
The judge's order seems to be atrocious, absurd, and in clear violation of the 1st Amendment as well as common parenting rights.

Eugene Volokh comments and notes the "best interests of the child" standard that courts use in custody decisions. Under general circumstances, it's for the parents to decide what is in the child's best interests, but when parental custody itself is involved, it gets much more complicated. What about when the child's "best interests" conflict with the parent's Constitutional rights? Among many other things, Eugene says, "But what this means, I think, is that sometimes the parents' constitutional rights should prevent a judge from rendering a decision that he thinks is in the child's best interests."



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