Lisa Miller and her daughter, Isabella
The decision by the U.S. Supreme Court this week not to hear the case of Lisa Miller v. Janet Jenkins may, effectively, send a Christian mother to jail for not sharing Thanksgiving – and her 6-year-old daughter – with her former lesbian partner.
Because the Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal, Miller now faces trial dates in January and possible contempt charges for refusing to comply with a lower court’s dictate that her former lesbian partner be granted visitation rights with her daughter, Isabella Miller.
The non-profit legal group Liberty Counsel has been working on the case.
“Lisa Miller left the homosexual lifestyle and became a Christian when Isabella was 17 months old,” Liberty Counsel explained. “Janet Jenkins, who was Lisa’s same-sex partner when Lisa gave birth to Isabella, then sought full custody of Isabella, claiming she was a parent even though she was not biologically related to Isabella and never sought to adopt her.”
But after a judge granted Jenkins visitation rights, Liberty Counsel chairman Mathew Staver reports, little Isabella began experiencing lingering effects of her time with Jenkins.
“She began having nightmares, bed-wetting, fears of leaving Lisa and even tried to physically harm herself after just a couple of visitations,” Staver told WND. “After having seen that, Lisa just simply said, ‘I cannot put my child in that situation anymore.'”
Miller then stopped allowing Jenkins to have unsupervised, overnight visitations with Isabella.
The courts again insisted on visitation, demanding that Isabella spend the Thanksgiving weekend with Jenkins.
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But when Miller was unable to negotiate a supervised visit with Jenkins over the holiday, she refused to permit her daughter to go again into an unsupervised environment, a decision that may lead to a jail sentence.
WND reported earlier on the much-publicized custody battle in which a Vermont court ruled its civil union laws, rather than Virginia’s laws disregarding same-sex unions, should control the case.
Isabella was born in Virginia, and the Millers live in the state, but Miller was joined to Jenkins in a civil union in Vermont.
The Virginia State Supreme Court, however, stepped away from its own state’s precedents and affirmed that a Vermont civil union should control the case.
The case led to a clash over whether Vermont could reach over state lines to impose its civil union laws on Virginia’s soil.
Staver previously told WND “states must have the sovereign authority to maintain their marriage policy as the union of one man and one woman, while rejecting same-sex unions. Virginia’s Constitution compels the state supreme court to not recognize out-of-state, same-sex marriages and civil unions.”
Though a Virginia county court agreed with Staver, the appeals court did not.
Furthermore, the appeals court ignored an argument by Staver and Liberty Counsel on Miller’s behalf to recognize Virginia’s new marriage amendment, defining marriage between one man and one woman, which was enacted during the course of the case. Instead, the appeals court cited a federal law that compels states to honor other state’s claims to jurisdiction. The court decided in favor of Jenkins.
The Virginia State Supreme Court could have made a ruling to put the issue to rest. Instead, it also chose to ignore the implications of Virginia’s marriage amendment and ruled that as no new arguments were presented in the case, the appeals court ruling must stand.
The U.S. Supreme Court could have also rendered a decision to clarify the conflict between the two states’ laws but chose earlier this week to decline hearing the case.
“We would have hoped that the United States Supreme Court would take the case,” Staver told WND, “but the case is still not over. Although options are becoming less as we move further down the line.”
Hearings are now scheduled in January in both Vermont and Virginia to determine the legal fate of Lisa and Isabella Miller.