The Virginia Court of Appeals has been asked to keep a mother and daughter together by affirming a state law that voids orders stemming from out-of-state civil unions.
Lisa Miller and her daughter, Isabella (photo courtesy Barbara Curtis)
Mathew Staver founded Liberty Counsel, which yesterday argued before the court on behalf of Lisa Miller, who has been ordered by a Vermont judge to turn over her young daughter, Isabella, to Miller’s lesbian ex-partner, Janet Jenkins, on New Year’s Day.
WND has reported the case in which a Vermont judge ruled Jenkins, who has not been involved in Isabella’s life for years, first should have visitation with Miller’s biological daughter, then full custody.
The ACLU and Lambda Legal Defense Fund have been demanding that Miller give up her daughter to Jenkins, who maintains a lesbian lifestyle in Vermont. Miller left the lesbian lifestyle shortly after Isabella was born, and Jenkins has neither a blood relationship nor an adoptive relationship with the child.
The order is being appealed in Vermont. But the question pending before the Virginia Court of Appeals was whether Virginia must enforce custody and visitation orders arising from a Vermont same-sex civil union.
According to Staver, Virginia’s state law and constitution expressly ban enforcement of any right or order arising from same-sex “marriage,” civil union or domestic partnership.
The case has been in the courts before, focusing then on whether Virginia had to register the Vermont order. The current arguments present for the first time the question of whether Virginia must enforce terms of a civil-union order, which its own laws declare “void in all respects.”
“Unrefuted testimony has shown that for the last five years, Janet has neither attempted to phone nor write Isabella,” the Liberty Counsel report on the case said. “She has never sent Isabella a card of any kind for any occasion. Janet has refused to attend Isabella’s Christmas plays, because she does not want to be around a Christian environment. She has also said that it is not in Isabella’s best interest to be raised in a Christian home.
“The critical time has arrived in this case,” said Staver. “The law is clear that same-sex unions and any right arising from such unions are void and unenforceable in Virginia.
“The legislature and the people have spoken clearly and with one voice on this issue. The future of Isabella is literally being weighed in a balance between two states. Same-sex unions affect children. Such unions deprive children of the opportunity for both a mother and a father,” he said.
Ultimately, Staver said, the issue may have to be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, because the case is being moved along parallel tracks in both Vermont, where Jenkins lives, and Virginia, where the Millers live.
He said it is possible that the final result from each state will be opposing rulings.
“That is a direct appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Staver explained.
The custody battle began after Miller left the relationship and took her daughter. She later refused to allow Isabella to visit Jenkins after the child reported she was compelled to bathe naked with Jenkins.
Virginia court rulings have declared Miller to be the sole parent.
Isabella was born to Miller from artificial insemination when Miller and Jenkins were living together. They obtained a civil union from Vermont, but Jenkins never adopted the baby. The relationship terminated when Miller became a Christian and quit the lesbian lifestyle.
Even on the pro-homosexual “Queerty” website, the Vermont court decision startled some.
“What kind of monster takes a child away from their mother. … This is a human-rights violation for the child,” said one person.
“It’s easy to pick on the biological mother. We don’t like her religious beliefs, we don’t like her politics. But the fact remains that [this] is dangerous precedent for mothers, who [are] under increasing pressure to ‘cooperate’ with ex’s regarding their children, REGARDLESS of the ex’s history of abuse, alcoholism, and abuse. Please familiarize yourself with the fathers rights movement and their war on women – just because you don’t identify yourself as heterosexual doesn’t mean that you aren’t in their crosshairs,” added another.
The case earlier was complicated when Jenkins’ Virginia attorney withdrew “after he was indicted for obstructing justice and tampering with evidence regarding a murder that occurred in his home, where his college male friend was sodomized and killed,” Liberty Counsel said.