Exclusive Interview with Lisa Miller, Ex-Lesbian Fighting for Custody of Own Child against “Civil Union” Partner
Interview by Matthew Hoffman
October 26, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - When Lisa Miller repudiated the lesbian lifestyle in 2003 and turned to Jesus Christ as her savior, she believed that she and her daughter Isabella would be safe from her traumatic and confused past. However, her former partner Janet Jenkins, to whom she was joined in a “civil union,” was not willing to let go without a fight. Jenkins sued and successfully received the right to unsupervised visits with Isabella, some lasting for weeks, despite the fact that she has no biological or adoptive relationship with the child.
Although Miller is now living in the state of Virginia, which has legislation specifically denying the validity of homosexual “marriages” and civil unions contracted in other states, judges in that state have repeatedly upheld the Vermont court decisions. However, after Isabella spoke of suicide and began to exhibit strange behavior following the visits, Miller decided to defy the courts and to cut off contact between Jenkins and Isabella.
On Monday, October 27, Miller will be present for a hearing in Vermont in which she may be held in contempt of court for refusing visitation. According to her attorney, she may be fined, or thrown in jail. The judge may also choose to give exclusive custody to Janet Jenkins, a woman whose only connection to Isabella is that she once had a sexual relationship with her mother.
In this exclusive LifeSiteNews interview, Lisa Miller talks about how she became entangled in the lesbian lifestyle, after mental health workers convinced her she was a lesbian. She discusses the psychology of lesbianism and its link to lack of parental affirmation, and how she finally found that affirmation in Jesus Christ. She also discusses the abusive nature of her previous relationship and the disturbing signs that have followed her child’s visits with Jenkins.
The interview has been redacted for space considerations, and the order of the questions has been altered to group together related issues.
To learn more about Lisa and Isabella’s story, go to: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=81022155363
LifeSiteNews: Can you tell me a little bit about how you began in this relationship with Janet Jenkins?
Miller: I had actually identified myself as a lesbian a couple of years before meeting Janet, and it was through a process – I was hospitalized 14 years ago for an alcohol addiction and it was when I was in the hospital the first time for that which was in February of 1994 that I had a failed marriage and I had also tried to commit suicide and that was how I got a trip to the hospital. I tried to commit suicide and I was in ICU actually for 5 days – it was a miracle that I was alive. I was in a regular med unit for 2 days and then in the state of Virginia you go to the psych ward if you try to take your life. It’s a state rule.
So, it was when I was in the psych ward – you get put through evaluations, group therapy, individual therapy and it was through this process of them trying to figure out what was wrong with me that they said, “Well, we don’t really know but we really think that you are probably a lesbian and you are having problems with coming out issues.”
They actually put that as my treatment plan and I had to meet with my family before they would release me from the hospital to explore this issue. So, that was the first time that I had really explored this issue. It was in the hospital, with my parents, my extended family and also my husband at the time, even though we were separated, and soon after that we parted ways and we got a divorce. So, back in 1994, was the first time that I really self-identified myself as a lesbian.
LifeSiteNews: What led you to attempt suicide?
Miller: What led me to that was – from the age of 7, my parents had divorced and I had started taking Speed. I didn’t know that that was what it was at the time because you could get it over the counter basically. Through a serious of addictions from the time I was 7, up until the time I met my husband, I had never had alcohol.
When I met my husband, he introduced me to alcohol and mixing that with some pills that I was taking and I had food addictions – I guess, it really did depress me and, at that time, I just felt that nothing else was going to get better and I was having marital problems with my husband at the time and I just decided that I wanted to end my life…
LifeSiteNews: Was there anything objective that actually provoked these doctors or staff to conclude that you were a lesbian or was this something that they sort of proposed to you or sort of pushed on you? How did that happen?
Miller: Well, this was a brand new program, it was in Prince William Hospital and literally at that time, it was a brand new psych ward. It was part of the hospital but it wasn’t in the hospital – it was in a separate building on the ground. They had what they called innovative therapy. They did an eclectic view and at the time there were two lesbians there on the unit as patients and they were in just for a regular psych stay for emotional issues, I guess. My marriage was failing, they took that information in – I was sexually and physically abused as a child. I did not get along with my mother at all – my mother was mentally ill as well. She had multiple personalities and they took all of these and they also took the fact that medicine wasn’t working, according to them and I didn’t want to take it because it made me feel weird. They took all of this and they said, “Well, we really think that you are a lesbian.” And they had me be in a therapy group with these other two ladies who were on the unit. So, that was their diagnosis.
LifeSiteNews: Did you get a sense, at least in retrospect, that was something that was essentially suggested by them, initiated by them, and proposed by them without much objective evidence? Did you tell them, “I’m obsessed with sexual thoughts of women?” Or did they put together these elements from your background and say, “Well, you must be a lesbian.”
Miller: They basically put together elements from my background. At the time, where I was working – well, the last few places where I had worked, there were also self-identified lesbians and I am guessing, that they put that in the mix as well because those were the people that I would hang with. I wouldn’t do anything with them but they were drinking buddies, essentially as well – at my last two positions before I ended up in the hospital. In retrospect looking at it, especially now as a Christian, not once did they tell me –“You need to work it out with your husband.” Not once did they even offer therapy to bring him in and we were not divorced at that time. And he was not even a part of my therapy in the hospital.
LifeSiteNews: They didn’t invite him in or anything?
Miller: No. Nothing.
LifeSiteNews: One of the things I find most interesting about your story is the way that so many health-care professionals seem to want to convince you that you were a lesbian. When you were with Janet Jenkins, I read that you did not feel sexually attracted to her or to women in general – that you were looking for comfort. Is that true and can you explain that?
Miller: That is true. Janet and I did not have a typical relationship. We were together – however, there was rarely any intimacy. Maybe once or twice a year and this was consistent throughout the relationship. I personally did not feel that way. This upset Janet a great deal and a lot of the abuse centered around that, as well, with name-calling and things like that. I just didn’t feel that way. For me, being with her, and this is going to sound weird, but it was like a comfort zone because I was used to being abused growing up – it was something on a regular basis.
LifeSiteNews: Do you think that destroyed your trust in men or you were looking for affirmation in women because often those who come out of the homosexual lifestyle will say that they had some kind of underlying psychological motive. Do you have any comments on that?
Miller: I think, with women, what I was trying to do was trying to recreate a mother/daughter bond that I never had. When I was 7 I knew how to balance a checkbook because that was my responsibility and I made sure that the mortgage was paid and I made sure that we had food on the table. I went to the grocery store and things like that. I was always a little grown up from the time my parents divorced which was when I was 7. I really believe, looking back on it, I was trying to recreate something that I never had with my mom. It was just such a tangled web because you can’t recreate that. The only person who can fill that void is Jesus and I know that now.
LifeSiteNews: So, you came out at the hospital at some point. You divorced your husband – go ahead and take up the story from there.
Miller: I did have a relationship with a woman and we lived together for almost two years – more friendship, on and off relationship but we were room-mates as well. After that was a failed relationship, I ended up leaving that relationship and I had just resigned myself to the fact that this was not for me, I am not a lesbian – and my mother, at the time had gotten worse, mental health wise. I was taking care of her and I was trying to work and I was going to graduate school as well, all at the time of this break-up.
I finally just decided, ok, maybe I need some therapy to get myself through all of this….the only therapy that was available was at a clinic called Whitman Walker Clinic and it is usually based in DC but they had one in Arlington where I was living…It was during this process that I was told, “Well, your marriage didn’t work and your first relationship with a woman didn’t work but that doesn’t mean that a second relationship isn’t going to work and we really just think that you haven’t found the right woman.” So, that was part of therapy for a year and a half, as well.
So, I did get into a relationship with another woman – it was very short-lived. It was probably two or three months. And then, my mom ended up dying of her mental illness is what we are assuming. That was very traumatic. She was actually dead for about two and a half weeks before anyone found her and I really went down hill – emotionally. I went down to AA because at the time I had stopped it during therapy.
I never relapsed – I never went back to alcohol or drugs. It was like I had chosen same-sex relationships as an addiction now even though at that point I had only had two relationships with a woman. The day that I found out that my mom died – it was at night. And then the next day, after seeing what I saw in her apartment, I immediately went to an AA meeting and it was there that I met Janet.
LifeSiteNews: On two different occasions, you were essentially persuaded that you were a lesbian by mental health workers or people involved in a mental health program.
LifeSiteNews: So, what year was that?
Miller: That was 1997 was when I met Janet. That was December of 1997.
LifeSiteNews: So, from December of 1997, you were living with her – when did you finally cease to live together?
Miller: I didn’t start living with Janet until 1998 – I met her in Dec, ‘97 and I moved in probably around May or June of 1998 and I actually, ended up leaving her in 1999 because the relationship had turned violent. She had tried to throw me out – she was physically and verbally abusive. And when one night, she just totally blew up and she said that she wanted to kill me and she called her father to come and sit until she calmed down.
I was back in AA because Janet was in AA and we had attended all through that first year of our relationship. In AA, you get phone numbers for support. I didn’t have a sponsor at the time and so I called one of the phone numbers that I had gotten earlier that week and she was a therapist and so I called her. It was probably around 11 o’clock at night and I said, “What am I supposed to do – I am scared.” Her father is in the living room and she is trying to calm down. She said, “You pack your bags right now and you come and sleep on my sofa.” [Janet] went into therapy and I came in at certain points and then we ended up moving back, unfortunately together, in November of 1999.
LifeSiteNews: So, you were together again until 2003. When and how was your daughter conceived?
Miller: I had decided that I wanted a child. And I was doing foster care as well with the county and I had a foster child in my home with special needs. My background is working with kids with special needs and so, I had decided that – she had been in my home for about 14 months – and this was home that Janet and I shared together in Hamilton, VA. Through that process, I decided that I really wanted to try to have my own child in addition to adopting.
So, it was in 2000 that I first went to the doctor and I was told, back when I was married, that I would not be able to have children and so I went to a fertility specialist in Annandale, VA and that was in 2001 when I finally went to him. He told me that I would be able to get pregnant and I just had to go in to get an operation because I had some polyps on my uterus – a D&C basically. And so then we started – its called the cycle of artificial insemination – I did one cycle of that and did not get pregnant and then I did another cycle in late August of 2001 and I was pregnant. This was all done in Annandale, VA.
LifeSiteNews: Did you and Janet regard this child as both of yours – or how did you look at it at the time?
Miller: Well, the foster child that I had, had living in the home - she actually had moved out and she was adopted with another family because it was decided that this particular foster child needed to be either the youngest child because of her special needs or the only child and so since that wasn’t going to happen – she was adopted by another family. It was during that time, where I had shortly thereafter gotten pregnant, and Janet would tell me, “I don’t know if I can love this child. I couldn’t love the foster child because she wasn’t my own flesh and blood and this child isn’t going to be my own flesh and blood.” Isabella was conceived with my egg and anonymous sperm donor.
LifeSiteNews: What does the birth certificate say?
Miller: That she has one parent and that is me.
LifeSiteNews: So, Janet Jenkins did not seem to have much of an emotional attachment to your daughter?
Miller: She was not even there when I was artificially inseminated – she decided that she didn’t want to take off work.
LifeSiteNews: There is a news account – I think the Washington Post did one – where at least Janet Jenkins claims that, at least, one of those times she actually went with you to the clinic.
Miller: No. We were living in Hamilton at the time and we owned a day-care together – it was a c-corporation day-care and so we were both co-owners in it. She felt that she did not want to take off work. It was an hour and a half drive each way.
LifeSiteNews: She didn’t go with you any of the times. She didn’t express a strong interest in what you were doing either?
Miller: Correct. She said that she did not want to carry the baby but if I wanted to have a baby that would be fine. She did say that she liked children and we were running a day care together. However, once I became pregnant there was basically no interest. I had a very tumultuous pregnancy and not a very pleasant pregnancy…I had bronchitis twice – and I went into pre-mature labor at about 6 ½ months. I ended up having her at 8 months, I was on bed rest off and on until 7 months of pregnancy and then the last month of pregnancy I was on complete bed-rest with the other anti-miscarriage drugs to stop the pre-mature labor so I still ended up having her 4 weeks early but she was 5 lbs., 15 oz. and perfectly healthy.
LifeSiteNews: At what point in this process did you and Janet Jenkins enter into a civil union?
Miller: We entered into a civil union in the year 2000, in December.
LifeSiteNews: So, obviously that has been the basis for this claim that Isabella is also Janet’s daughter. So, then you obviously broke up in 2003 – was this again because of abuse or go ahead and tell me why you ended up the relationship.
Miller: I grew up in the Church; I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. My mother was mentally ill and the only places she would allow me to go were school and church. I was not even allowed to go over to friends’ houses. So, I was always at Church. I learned a lot of Scripture there. No one really sat me down and talked to me about the——of salvation or that anything was a sin. My church was not like that. I did learn a lot of Scripture and I had a lot of good Sunday school teachers there that taught Bible memory. I was very actively involved in the church as well until I was married and then I had stopped going to church, when I got married. So, when I was on bed rest, all of that started coming back and that just really kind of prompted me –“Lisa, you didn’t think that same-sex relationships were ok for you and you are bringing a child into this now.”
My relationship with Janet was abusive on again and off again even after we moved back in together and even throughout the pregnancy, she was not very supportive either even when I was on bed-rest and the name-calling and the emotional abuse had started again and even physical abuse where she would restrain me and prevent me from going into another room or threaten to kick me out. That was going on as well.
At the time, we were attending a Unitarian church and right before I had to go on complete bed rest, I had gone and I had seen the pastor there and I told her that I was scared and she told me, “Lisa, you have two choices- you can either leave or you can go seek counseling.” So, I went to go seek counseling and this time I sought a counselor who was not a part of the homosexual movement, so to speak. We did therapy and a lot of the therapy centered around my childhood – things that she felt I had not worked through. When you are pregnant, apparently, a lot of the stuff comes up – like the sexual abuse. So, we worked on that and talked about that and she would always say, “Is there is something going on in your relationship that you want to talk to me about?” And I was afraid to tell her that the physical and emotional abuse had started again. Here I am pregnant – and I was afraid she was going to think I was an unfit mother, bringing in a child into this relationship. She knew Janet. So, I wasn’t upfront with her on that aspect. I attended therapy with her though probably for about 6 or 7 months before I had to go on complete bed-rest and then we talked on the telephone about once a week with that. So, after Isabella was born – I realized, “I can’t do this anymore.” But I didn’t leave. Instead, I moved to Vermont and Isabella was 4 months old at the time. Janet had said that she just really wanted to get away from her parents who lived about 30 minutes away.
LifeSiteNews: Can I jump in – you had been joined in a civil union in Vermont previously to actually moving there.
Miller: Right. We went to Vermont on a vacation and engaged in the civil union and then came back from vacation – so we were down in Virginia and Virginia didn’t recognize the civil union.
LifeSiteNews: That is an interesting legal point that I would personally think that would have a lot of bearing on any judgment that might be made but apparently that hasn’t been very convincing to the judges that have examined to the case.
Miller: No, God has a plan and a purpose for this because it is just amazing everything that the judges have over-looked here in VA. So, we moved to Vermont when Isabella was 4 months old and then when she was 17 months old, I left and moved back to Virginia and took Isabella with me, of course.
LifeSiteNews: So you entered into a civil union that had no validity where you were domiciled because at that time, Virginia already had its marriage amendment, am I correct?
Miller: We were domiciled in Virginia which didn’t recognize the civil union. When I moved back to Virginia, at that particular time, Virginia had the Defense of Marriage which didn’t recognize the civil union. I have lived in Virginia except for the 12 months that I moved to Vermont and then, in 2003, when I left Janet and thus Vermont – and the same-sex attraction life, I moved back to Virginia and at that particular time the Marriage Affirmation Act became a House bill and so they didn’t recognize the civil union still – even when I moved back here.
LifeSiteNews: So, you then moved back after just a short period of time in Vermont. You move back to Virginia in 2003? From what I understand, you did continue to have occasional visits from Janet Jenkins and she spent time with the child, is that correct?
Miller: Well yes and no…She actually said, “I don’t want to have any responsibility for her – she’s not my child but I just want to see her once in a while.” I agreed to that. You can see her. She did come down to see her once in September and once in November. She would ask to come and see her and then she would call and say she couldn’t come. I filed for civil union dissolution – I sent the paperwork to Vermont because Janet asked me at Thanksgiving time if we could go ahead and do that because she wanted to file for bankruptcy and she couldn’t file for bankruptcy without doing that. I said, “Ok.”
So, I filed for it and I also filed for it because at that point I knew that the homosexual lifestyle was a sin and that I was never, ever going to go back to it. I was also, in September, two weeks after I moved back here – I started going back to church after years of not being in a church – I attended my brother’s church and I was sitting in the service one night – I went whenever the door was open – Wednesday night and Sunday morning and Sunday night and whatever they had during the week – and of course, Isabella went with me.
I was just sitting there one night and I thought, “Wow, I am not saved.” I had been going through these motions and I thought that baptism saved you. So, I gave my life to the Lord and I just kept hearing, getting a clean slate, totally separatize with the homosexual community. And I did, I changed my friends, I told Janet that that was one of the reasons why I agreed to filing for the civil union dissolution but at that point, I don’t think she realized that I was changed. I didn’t sit down and tell her, “I am saved now.” In December, she received the paperwork and she called me and she told me that she wanted me to stop – she didn’t want the dissolution of the civil union. And I said, “Nope. I am not going to stop it – this is what I know I need to do now.” And she said, “Well, I’ll see you in court.” And that is when this litigation for the last five years, started.
LifeSiteNews: What do you think her motive is since she didn’t have much of an interest in Isabella – she visited Isabella in Virginia once or twice?
Miller: Well, she visited her twice that year – in 2003. And then the following year was when the litigation started.
LifeSiteNews: So, at that point she had only visited her twice and you are saying that she had not expressed much of an interest in her when you were actually together – so what do you think her motive was for doing this and for wanting to stop the civil union dissolution?
Miller:…She did see her a couple of times in 2004 and then I felt very strongly that God, through His word and through the ways that He shows Himself, that he wanted me to stop visitation, and so I did. In, I believe, October 2004. But even up until then, she saw her maybe three times. A court order came down saying that she had court-ordered visitation in 2004 and she still didn’t avail herself of what the court order said she could have.
LifeSiteNews: Did she come to visit sometimes? Or what did she do?
Miller: She came probably 3 times that entire year.
LifeSiteNews: And she had the right to come, according to the court order – how often?
Miller: The right to come, I believe, at that point – every other week. Here in Virginia. And then, in the summer time, she was supposed to have her for a week at a time and she did not.
LifeSiteNews: So, when did you decide, I am not going to allow any more visits?
Miller: That was in October of 2004.
LifeSiteNews: The court that gave the visitation right was a Vermont court right?
Miller: Correct. They gave me full physical and legal custody because they said we could not work together. We could not communicate. They gave her liberal visitation at the same time.
LifeSiteNews: So, in 2004, you decided that you were no longer going to allow any more visitations?
LifeSiteNews: So, take it from there – what happened after that?
Miller: Well, Judge Crosser – in Virginia, he ruled as well in October but I believe that the final order was in November, though – that he did not see where Vermont had any jurisdiction. He called Janet a friend, not an ex-partner and he said that I was the only mother and I could decide who I allowed my daughter to see. So, that happened – so from October, 2004 to April, 2007 – she did not see Isabella at all.
LifeSiteNews: During this time, did litigation continue?
Miller: Yes, litigation continued. I was found in contempt several times. I was fined. I was threatened to transfer custody. That was all in Vermont – we lost at the Virginia appellate court twice and then just recently in June of this year, we lost at the Virginia Supreme Court.
LifeSiteNews: I know there was to be an appeal to the US Supreme Court – has that been answered?
Miller: No, we appealed twice to them and they have said no. We have another appeal coming up in November and we don’t know what they are going to say for that one.
LifeSiteNews: So, the court has ordered you repeatedly to allow visitation to Janet Jenkins and you have said ‘no.’
Miller: Well, last year, I allowed visitation starting in April of 2007 and the court ordered that she should see her – it was one week-end and then another weekend and then every other weekend and then eventually she was supposed to have seen her through-out the summer but Janet availed herself of it, rarely. And then, last August she did have her for a full week in Vermont and it was devastating. She wouldn’t allow Isabella to call me – when she would call me, she was crying. She didn’t understand what was going on. She was only 5. So, I knew that I didn’t want any more Vermont visitations. I didn’t have the peace about not giving Virginia visits and it was still in the court systems as well. So, she saw her several more times but she has not seen Isabella since Christmas of last year and that is through Janet’s own doing. She did not come in January or February for her scheduled visit. Instead she contacted my attorney – Janet won’t speak to me. I have asked three times in the last year, can you please just sit down and talk with me. And this is through our attorneys. She won’t answer my phone calls. She won’t answer my letters. She refused to talk with me – even at drop-off and pick-up.
LifeSiteNews: When your child was with her – this week in Vermont. I read also that she reported other things – can you tell us what happened in full? You were saying that she was crying and unhappy and she wasn’t allowed to call – where there any other events of concern to you?
Miller: When she came home from the visit, she told me that she watched movies where people killed each other, where there were guns and she also said that Janet left her alone at the lake one day and she was in the water by herself. They don’t have beaches there – they have these lakes that are like beaches. I said, “Well, where was Janet.” And she said, “Janet was up on the beach.” I said, “OK.” She is 5 years old and she can’t swim. Different things like that.
…Last year, Isabella put a comb up to her neck and said she wanted to kill herself after one of the visits. She took a comb and pressed it into her neck and said, “I want to kill myself.” I don’t know where she got that. It was immediately after a visit. Other people have seen huge changes. She also started openly masturbating which is not something that my child has done.
She is 6 now but this started when she was 5 – after visits. The very first time that Janet ever saw Isabella after the two and a half years, her very first over-night visit – the court ordered it and I allowed it because it was in Virginia and she was supposed to have been supervised by her parents, Isabella came home and said, “Mommy, will you please tell Janet that I don’t have to take a bath anymore at her house.” I asked her what happened. She said, “Janet took a bath with me.” I asked her if she had a bathing suit on. “No, Mommy.” She had no clothes on and it totally scared Isabella. She had never seen this woman except once in 2 ½ years and she takes a bath with her.
So, different things like this have happened and God allowed me to go to this same fair that they were going to – I didn’t even know that Isabella was going to be there. And again, these are all visits taking place in Virginia and I was at the fair with my brother and his family and we saw Janet, lose Isabella. She had no clue where Isabella was. Isabella mentioned that at the end of the visit. She said, “I don’t know where she went. She was there one time and then she wasn’t.” I asked her, “Well, where do you think she went?” And my daughter, who was 5 at the time, last year, “Mommy, she must have gone to get a drink because she didn’t have a drink in her hand when she left me and then when she came back she had a drink.” I said, “Oh my goodness.” Thank goodness Isabella had enough sense to stay close.
I don’t know why Janet is fighting so hard for this and Isabella doesn’t want to go.
LifeSiteNews: Have you decided not to permit any more contact, is that it?
LifeSiteNews: My understanding is that there will be hearing in Vermont on the 27th of December to determine, because Janet Jenkins is asking the court to give her full custody of your child?
Miller: Well, Janet is asking for contempt charges and she was asking for a transfer of complete custody. As of Wednesday, her attorney said that they are going to withdraw that motion but without prejudice which means that they can bring that up at any time. Here is the concern with that. We are not convinced because Judge Cohen has said – if we lost in Virginia, which we did on June 6th of this year – that all bets are off and he doesn’t have a choice but to transfer custody so we are not really sure what is going to happen but they are asking for contempt and in the past they have asked for jail time.
LifeSiteNews: So, you are concerned that they may ask for jail-time again?
LifeSiteNews: What is the maximum possible penalty that could be given to you if they find you in contempt of court?
Miller: I don’t know because Vermont allows the judge to decide that.
LifeSiteNews: So, he could assign as many days in jail as he wishes, for example.
Miller: Yes. That is right. I already received a fine of over $10,000.00 last year in April in Vermont – and praise the Lord, God took care of that because instead of wanting the money Janet said just sign over the time-share which is what I did.
LifeSiteNews: So, if they did rule that you were in contempt and you had to do jail time will you be there at the hearing or will it be your attorney or would they actually be able to arrest you since you are not a citizen of the state?
Miller: I am going to be there and they would arrest me on the spot.
LifeSiteNews: Can you tell our readers also – what is your attitude about this? Do you fear for the future or are you optimistic? What do you think will happen?
Miller: I believe that God is in control and I believe that anything that is going to happen – He is going to allow it. I don’t have any fear. I feel at peace that God is with me. He has protected me and Isabella for the last five years and I believe that He is going to continue to do that.