MS Court Dismisses Man's $144 Million Retaliation Lawsuit in Child Custody Battle with Lesbian Ex-Wife

November 23, 1999 12:00 am

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TUPELO, MS — A local man’s $144 million lawsuit against his lesbian ex-wife, her lawyers and the state judge who presided over his child custody and visitation battle has been dismissed as “frivolous and misguided,” the American Civil Liberties Union said today.

The man had filed a lawsuit in federal court last month, claiming that Chancery Judge William L. Griffin, Jr., in conspiracy with his ex-wife and her ACLU attorneys, had deprived him of his right to religious liberty by ordering that the children would have standard visitation with their mother, because he believes “the Holy Bible condemns homosexuality.”

The man also claimed that he was a victim of “cruel and unusual punishment” because the court knew of his religious beliefs and ruled against him; he said the First Amendment entitled him to regard the teachings of the Bible as “common law.”

In dismissing the man’s case, United States District Judge Glen H. Davidson rejected the claim and warned that “any future frivolous litigation will result in the imposition of substantial monetary and nonmonetary sanctions.”

The ruling left undisturbed Chancellor Griffin’s determination that it was in the children’s best interest to receive the love and care of their mother. (The woman, known publicly only as “R.M.,” has asked to remain anonymous in order to protect her children.)

“Determinations of child custody and visitation should always be based on the best interests of the child, not on the biases of the parents,” said Leslie Cooper, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “The fact that the prejudice in this case was cloaked in religious terms does not validate the father’s attempts to prevent his children from seeing their mother.”

Volunteer attorney C. Jackson Williams, who represented R.M. along with the ACLU’s Cooper, called Judge Davidson’s ruling “the best possible outcome.”

“Marriages dissolve for all kinds of reasons, but the bond between parents and their children is everlasting,” said Williams, a partner in the law firm Rutherford Williams in Oxford. “We are grateful that the court did not allow that bond to be severed.”

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