Skip to comments.Woman fights former lesbian partner in Va. for custody of child
Posted on 08/13/2004 7:54:07 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A woman who had a child with her lesbian partner after entering into a civil union in Vermont is now suing for custody in Virginia, where a new law recently went into effect banning civil unions and other same-sex partnership contracts.
The state's leading gay rights organization, Equality Virginia, said the lawsuit could bring the first challenge to Virginia's anti-gay law, which many legal scholars call the most restrictive in the nation.
A hearing is scheduled Friday in a Winchester court to determine whether Lisa Miller-Jenkins has sole parental rights over her biological daughter, 2-year-old Isabella. Lisa's former partner, Janet Miller-Jenkins, is contesting the action, claiming Vermont has jurisdiction over the case.
Though Lisa Miller-Jenkins carried the child, Janet Miller-Jenkins said Thursday the women selected a sperm donor with her physical characteristics so the child would look like the two of them. After Isabella was born in April 2002, both women cared for her. Janet Miller-Jenkins did not adopt Isabella because she was assured she had legal rights to the child under the couple's civil union.
When the women dissolved their civil union last year, they agreed to allow a Vermont judge to decide custody. However, Lisa Miller-Jenkins took the girl with her when she moved to Winchester in September and sued for full custody in Virginia, where civil unions are not recognized.
"I think it's a simple case of determining who the biological parent of Isabella is," said Lisa's attorney, Phil Griffin. "Custody obviously flows from whoever the parents are."
But Janet Miller-Jenkins' attorney, Joseph Price, said the dispute is more complicated. Because Lisa Miller-Jenkins has violated a court order in Vermont granting Janet Miller-Jenkins certain visitation rights, Janet Miller-Jenkins is pressing for full custody in that state.
Price, who is also Equality Virginia's chairman, said Vermont has jurisdiction over the case because a judge there has already rendered a temporary custody order.
"We don't want to have these cases where one parent gets a ruling in one state and grabs the child and runs to another state to get another ruling," he said.
Gay marriage is illegal in Virginia, and the state's Republican-dominated Legislature earlier this year extended that ban to cover civil unions and other contracts "purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage."
The move outraged gays and lesbians, prompting Equality Virginia and other gay rights groups to threaten a lawsuit to challenge the law's constitutionality.
The child custody case is the first to reach Virginia's courts since the law took effect July 1.
Steve Cable, president of an anti-gay group called the Center for American Cultural Renewal, said the fact that Vermont civil unions are not valid in Virginia means that Janet Miller-Jenkins' temporary joint custody order does not have any bearing in Virginia.
"Part of what this is about is the legal chaos civil unions have created," Cable said.
But Price said Virginia's new law and others like it around the country are what is causing the confusion.
"Without this law, no argument would have been made that Janet, who raised Isabella, should not have rights to care for her and love her as she has since the baby was born," he said.
Unless biology has changed, how could she have a child with her lesbian partner? Wasn't there some sperm involved somewhere along the line?
No bias here...
It aint all smiles and sunshine in LesboLand.
Interesting...run to a state that permits "civi unions" when it's convenient, then run to a state that is against it for protection from the first. Just goes to show, two individuals of the same sex cannot produce a child biologically, no matter what laws recognise what.
Note to Janet: TOUGH. It's like not signing a Pre-nup. If you don't get it in writing, you're an idiot and shouldn't be raising a child anyway.
I'm curious as to how she feels about paying child-support...
Could they both use the argument that the other parent/spouse is an unfit mother because of homosexual activity?
Huh? Ol' Professor 'Enry 'Iggins query comes to mind.
Why can't a woman
be look more like a man?
Funny how they left out the whole Christian conversion side of the story - the bio-mother has renounced the lesbian lifestyle as a result.
Why did they start the story off with a lie, I wonder? The only way this could be true is if they cloned the kid, after all.
There should be a pro-child grouped named Equality Vagina. Anyone who comes out of a vagina is owned by the owner of the vagina. Matrilineal.
And so it begins.
Note to: Virginia Equality
As a Virginia resident since 1958 I want to be clear that I do not wish to be equal to these, uh, ladies.
You didn't read the article, did you? LOL! They chose a sperm donor that looked like the non-biological woman. I assume that just means coloring.
I was just commenting on the wording - it's absurd.
I only laugh because I've done it myself many times. LOL! Please don't take offense. It makes me feel better to see others fall into the same trap. I just get moving too fast sometimes.
I think it would be, "Mary had two Mommies until one Mommy moved to Virgina and sued."