Dispatches from the Creation Wars

I’m sure many of you remember the Miller-Jenkins case, where a lesbian couple entered into a civil union in Vermont, had a child together and are locked in a battle over visitation for that child. Lisa Miller, the biological mother, initially filed to dissolve the civil union in a Vermont court and in her petition to the court she specifically named Janet Jenkins as the child’s adoptive mother and asked for child support. The Vermont court granted both the dissolution and the child support.

Miller then had a conversion to Christianity and decided that she was no longer a lesbian and went to Virginia and filed in court there to deny all parental rights to Jenkins. The trial judge there granted her request but the appeals court overturned it. Under the full faith and credit clause and under Federal statutory law, the Vermont court orders took legal precedence and the Virginia courts subsequently had no jurisdiction.

The Worldnutdaily has an article about the case that tells brazen lies about it. The lies begin with the headline:

Lesbian demands control over Christian’s daughter

Utter nonsense. Janet Jenkins only wants visitation rights with the child she helped bring into the world and raise, the same rights that Lisa Miller said in Vermont court that she wanted before suddenly changing her mind. But the serious lies are to be found in the article. Like this one:

The other part of the now-terminated relationship, Janet Jenkins, has alleged that because of Miller’s Christian parenting practices, she no longer is a fit mother.

That argument already has been adopted by the Vermont Supreme Court in a decision supportive of that state’s same-sex “union” provisions, but Miller and her daughter live in Virginia, and Miller has gone to the state’s highest court defending her right to adopt Christian parenting principles.

An absolutely outrageous lie. The Vermont Supreme Court ruling did not “adopt” any argument about Lisa Miller being an unfit parent for any reason, much less because she’s a Christian. In fact, the Vermont Supreme Court ruling in the case notes that Lisa Miller tried to argue that the only possible way Janet could be granted visitation was IF Lisa was found to be an unfit parent, and no such accusation had been made.

On top of the lies we have this ridiculous argument:

“This hearing will determine whether a lesbian woman who is Lisa Miller’s former partner will share custody of Isabella, Lisa’s daughter,” wrote Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues at Concerned Women for America. “The woman is neither an adoptive parent nor is she biologically related to Isabella. In fact, she’s a total stranger to the little girl.

“Isabella, who is now 6 years old, hadn’t seen this woman since she was 17 months old. This case could have national ramifications and will help decide whether states like Vermont and Massachusetts get to export their radical new definitions of marriage and family around the country,” Barber said.

Gee Matt, there’s a reason for that: Lisa has repeatedly refused to follow a lawful court order and refused to allow Janet to see her child. For this she has been repeatedly found to be in contempt of court in Vermont. You can’t refuse to allow her visitation, as ordered by the court, and then use the fact that she hasn’t seen the child as justification for not allowing her to see the child. This is like breaking someone’s leg and then criticizing them for having a limp.

Yet another lie:

WND reported earlier when a lower court in Virginia ceded authority to the Vermont Supreme Court, which opined that it alone has jurisdiction over the child custody battle because the pair lived together briefly in Vermont.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Vermont court did not exercise jurisdiction because they had lived together briefly in that state; the Vermont court exercised jurisdiction because Lisa Miller filed papers in Vermont court asking them to exercise jurisdiction. She was the one who asked them to dissolve the civil union AND asked them to do exactly what they did, grant visitation to Janet and require her to pay child support.

It was only after that ruling that Lisa changed her mind and tried to get a Virginia court to take over the case instead. But that can’t happen. Once a court in one state has issued a ruling, other states are required to follow them. This is particularly true in custody cases, where the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act is very clear that once a state court has ruled in a custody case, no other state court can exercise jurisdiction in the case. It’s even encoded specifically in Virginia state law as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

This is a no-brainer case legally. And now the Virginia Supreme Court, after initially refusing to hear an appeal, has scheduled oral arguments in the case for April 17th.