News

Judge Refuses Arrest Warrant in Lesbian Custody Case

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Feb 19, 2010

It would be a sad, but too-common story of acrimony between estranged spouses and suspected parental abduction, if not for the genders of the parties involved: both estranged parents are women. But because Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller used to be a same-sex couple, and because the question of Jenkins' parental relationship to Miller's biological daughter involved supreme court decisions in two states, the case has taken on the trappings of a culture war epic.

The right's usual rhetoric about "law" has been put aside for now, in the wake of Miller having disappeared with daughter Isabella, 7, after Miller failed to appear in court. Because Miller did not show up for the appearance at which a Vermont judge ordered custody to be transferred, a Virginia judge has declined to issue an arrest warrant for Miller, saying that it cannot be proven that Miller knows about the Vermont court's ruling, anti-gay religious site LifeSiteNews reported in a Feb. 18 article titled, "Lisa Miller Safe for Now."

The Vermont family court's decision awarding custody of the couple's daughter, Isabella, to formerly non-custodial parent Jenkins, after Miller repeatedly refused to abide by the visitation schedule set out by the courts, is unremarkable in itself. But Miller has become a poster child for the anti-gay right, claiming to have walked away from her "former lesbian lifestyle" and returned to her religious roots. As the courts pressed for Miller to comply with their instructions regarding visitation and Jenkins' parental privileges, conservative media began building the case up into a parable about judicial intrusion and parental rights--and to treat the story as a case in point for the argument that gays and lesbians are dangerous to heterosexual families.

But the case is essentially the same as similar custody cases involving heterosexual parents. Lawyer and family court expert Kurt Hughes of Burlington, Vermont, told local news station WCAX that the outcome--in which the court reassigned primary custody from Miller to Jenkins--is typical of cases in which one parent repeatedly refuses to abide by a court-ordered custody arrangement. "Even though it's hit the headlines because this happens to be a same-sex couple, this is a very basic family law that we're talking about," Hughes said.

"There's something called parental alienation syndrome, in which one parent is constantly bad mouthing the other parent," Hughes explained. "And so the courts over the years have decided that the potential long term psychological impact to a child from that type of behavior is much greater than the temporary disruption that would result from a child changing households from one parent to the other."

Vermont Family Court Judge Richard Cohen agreed, ruling last Nov. 20 that the change of custody was necessary because the dispute had the capacity to harm the child more than a change of custody would. Wrote Judge Cohen, "Ms. Miller's interference with the relationship between (the child) and Ms. Jenkins have become so pervasive that it now outweighs the potential harm that could occur to the child by a chance of custody." Judge Cohen ordered Miller to surrender Isabella to Jenkins on Jan. 1, but when the date came, Miller--and Isabella with her--had gone. Individuals subsequently called upon by the court have pled ignorance as to Miller's whereabouts.

Next: The Christian View



Comments

  • , 2010-02-19 12:40:24

    This issue has nothing to do with the sex or relationship of the parents. This issue is the CHILD, when are we, the Courts and parents going to realize these fights are not about the parents, but about the children. Let’s discuss what this poor child is going through being uprooted, moved away from her friends, and told "who knows what" about her "other" parent. Miller should be charged, arrested, jailed and NEVER be allowed contact with that child again!


  • BB, 2010-02-19 13:41:57

    Courts, indeed all humanity, have a great deal of difficulty taking a child away from its natural birth parent in favor of somebody biologically unrelated, especially when it seems it is being done, in part, to further an agenda. Perhaps, in his homosexualist zeal, Anonymous 12:40 would like Miller to be put to death as well for violating the sanctity of Lesbian cultural apotheosis. In fact, yes, let’s kill anyone who doesn’t bow down before the homosexualist left!


  • , 2010-02-19 14:28:05

    BB 13:41...First, what makes you think I am male? Second, whoever said anything about capital punishment. I said, and maybe you have a reading impediment, and need this read to you, that the issue is the CHILD. Any parent, male, female, gay, lesbian, or even alien (and I mean from outerspace) has no excuse for exposing this CHILD to what the CHILD is being exposed to. And as a consequence, the person that does that (again, I don’t give a rat’s behind who or what that person is) should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and never allowed contact with that child again!


  • , 2010-02-19 15:29:32

    BB 13:41...First, what makes you think I am male? Second, whoever said anything about capital punishment. I said, and maybe you have a reading impediment, and need this read to you, that the issue is the CHILD. Any parent, male, female, gay, lesbian, or even alien (and I mean from outerspace) has no excuse for exposing this CHILD to what the CHILD is being exposed to. And as a consequence, the person that does that (again, I don’t give a rat’s behind who or what that person is) should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and never allowed contact with that child again!


  • , 2010-02-19 17:30:36

    BB 13:41...First, what makes you think I am male? Second, whoever said anything about capital punishment. I said, and maybe you have a reading impediment, and need this read to you, that the issue is the CHILD. Any parent, male, female, gay, lesbian, or even alien (and I mean from outerspace) has no excuse for exposing this CHILD to what the CHILD is being exposed to. And as a consequence, the person that does that (again, I don’t give a rat’s behind who or what that person is) should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and never allowed contact with that child again!


  • BB, 2010-02-19 21:46:18

    Now I know you’re not a male, because you can’t shut up and say the same thing over and over and over.


  • , 2010-02-20 09:35:04

    There is NO "suspected" parental abduction. Ms Miller has made it very clear that she has kidnapped her daughter. And the Virginia judge’s claim that maybe Ms Miller doesn’t know that she is a criminal is absurd as is so much else that comes from the Christianists.


Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook