Vermont Supreme Court Upholds Lesbian’s Visitation Rights against Natural Mother’s Wishes
By Hilary White
MONTPELIER, Vermont, March 28, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com ) - The Vermont Supreme Court has upheld the claims of a lesbian for visitation rights to the daughter of her former partner. The court ruled that Janet Jenkins, who is no relation to the child, is legitimately the child’s other parent and dismissed an appeal from the child’s mother, Lisa Miller, saying that it had no reason to re-examine the case and calling Miller’s attempt to protect her daughter from the lesbian lifestyle "disingenuous".
Defenders of the natural family are worried that the decision will erode the legal standing of the definition of marriage in Virginia, which state does not recognize same-sex unions.
Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller were formally registered in Vermont as "married" under that state’s same-sex civil partnership laws. While in the relationship, Lisa Miller gave birth to a daughter, who has since been identified as Isabella, now five. When Miller decided to leave the relationship and the lesbian lifestyle after a religious conversion, she applied for the union to be legally dissolved. The court files dissolving the civil union named Isabella as the "biological or adoptive" child of the union.
Jenkins appealed to the Vermont courts for visitation rights to the child and Miller counter-filed in Virginia claiming that under that state’s law, Jenkins’ had no such rights because in Virginia, same-sex "marriage" did not exist. The case is the first of its kind in the US where the laws of one state regarding the nature of marriage and family are directly pitted in a lawsuit against the same-sex partnership laws of another.
The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the "plaintiff’s [Miller’s] argument that the interests of justice compel foregoing the doctrine in this instance because a young child is being forced into contact with a stranger is nothing short of disingenuous in light of the family court’s unchallenged findings regarding the child’s best interest and plaintiff’s contemptuous conduct."
Miller’s ongoing case is being pursued in the Virginia Supreme Court, represented by the Liberty Counsel, a public interest advocacy group.
David Corry, a lawyer with the Liberty Counsel, told media he hopes the US Supreme Court will agree to hear the case. "It’s an important issue as to whether citizens from one state can have another state decide custody of their children that were not born in that state and, as citizens of Virginia, they weren’t even entitled to enter into a civil union."
The Liberty Counsel released a statement saying, "Lisa is the fit, biological mother of a five-year-old daughter, with whom Janet has neither a biological nor an adoptive relationship."
"Same-sex unions disrupt the traditional family structure and pit one state against another. Children are the collateral damage of those pressing the same-sex union agenda." The Liberty Counsel expects to argue the case in Virginia in April.
Read previous LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Virginia and Michigan Join to Defend against Vermont Civil Unions: May go to US Supreme Court
Virginia Judge Rejects Registration of Vermont Civil Union Order Stopping Lesbian Child Visitation