A nasty custody case in Virginia highlights the way that the relentless push for same sex marriage threatens our core understanding of the nature of family. The desperate determination to honor gay rights undermines such fundamental values as the importance of motherhood, and the states obligation to consider the welfare of the child.
The basic facts of the current dispute remain uncontested. In the late 1990s, Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins began a lesbian relationship, and they secured a civil union in the state of Vermont in 2000. Shortly thereafter, Miller became pregnant through artificial insemination from a sperm donor, with the understanding that she and Jenkins would raise the resulting child as a couple. After the babys first birthday, however, Miller renounced homosexuality, became an Evangelical Christian and decided to raise her child, Isabella, on her own. The two women sought legal dissolution of their relationship in the Vermont Family Court and the judge, William D. Cohen, awarded custody to the birth mother but provided extensive visitation rights for the mothers rejected girlfriend. For several years, Miller resisted sharing her daughter with Jenkins, employing various legal strategies to challenge the court order. At one point, the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear the case.
Finally, on November 20, 2009, Judge Cohen found Miller in contempt of court for continuing to deny access to her daughter, now seven years old. He also changed his decision regarding custody now awarding custody to Jenkins, who bore no biological connection to the child and played no significant role in her upbringing after the babys first year. Courts in both Virginia and Vermont backed Jenkins claims on the babyclaims that received potent free legal backing from both the ACLU and the gay-rights-oriented Lamda Legal Foundation. The governmental authorities ordered Lisa Miller to hand over little Isabella to Janet Jenkins, a woman the child hardly knew, on January 1st, at 1 PM, at the home of Ms. Jenkins parents in Falls Church, Virginia. Ms. Miller failed to appear as directed, and is presumed to have become a fugitive with her daughter.
Regardless of the final outcome of this sad story, the case demonstrates the way that the militant gay rights agenda trumps long-standing patterns and preferences in family law.