Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Miller-Jenkins Custody Case Turns Nasty, Moves North

(Link) It's (anti-gay)Virginia vs (pro-civil unions) Vermont now and could head for the Supreme Court.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:

(Montpellier, Vermont) The Vermont Supreme Court will hear arguments this fall in a nasty custody battle, involving a lesbian former couple and their daughter, that could wind up in the US Supreme Court.

The case is being fought in two states, and no matter how the the Vermont high court rules it is expected one side or the other will appeal to the US Supreme Court. If that happens, and the court agrees to hear the case, it could be the first gay issue to come before it with a Bush appointee on the bench.

The suit revolves around a three year old girl born through artificial insemination to Lisa Miller-Jenkins. At the time she was in a relationship with Janet Miller-Jenkins which had been formalized by a civil union in Vermont where they resided.

When the relationship between the two women soured and they split up, a judge in Vermont gave Janet Miller-Jenkins temporary visitation rights with the child.

Lisa Miller-Jenkins fled with her daughter to Virginia which has some of the most anti-gay legislation in the country. She then went to court in that state seeking sole custody of the child.

Janet Miller-Jenkins fought the application on the grounds that the case was already before the court in Vermont. But, Judge John R. Prosser ruled that since the mother resided in Virginia, a Virginia court would hear the case. Subsequently Prosser ruled that Lisa Miller-Jenkins was the sole parent and that Janet Miller-Jenkins is nothing more a friend to the child.

A Family Court judge in Rutland, Vermont then found Lisa Miller-Jenkins in contempt for moving to Virginia and disobeying a court order involving the child's custody.

Last November a Vermont judge ruled that under the state's civil unions law, Janet Miller-Jenkins must be regarded as a co-parent.

It was the first time that a Vermont judge has ruled for co-parenting using the civil unions law, but the ruling pits the state against Virginia.

As a result of the Virginia rulings, Lisa Miller-Jenkins asked the Vermont Supreme Court to reverse the Vermont Family Court’s rulings so that it would concur with the Virginia decision.

Today the Vermont high court said it will hear arguments in the case on September 7.