Stop the Presses | Equal protection under the law
You’ve heard this song before – an appeals court has overturned the attempt of a Virginia woman to avoid complying with Vermont orders requiring her to grant visitation to her former lesbian partner to the couple’s child.
Question – at what point does this case go from the realm of the civil in terms of the resolution of the dispute over custody orders to the criminal in terms of the obvious flaunting of federal law that has been going on here for several years now?
“Miller, once again, seeks to sidestep her prior submission to the courts of Vermont and the decisions already rendered there and in this Commonwealth regarding the custody of her child,” the Virginia Court of Appeals noted last week in its rendering of the case involving Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins, a lesbian couple that entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000 and raised a daughter, Isabella, borne by Miller until the couple split when Isabella was 17 months old.
Isabella is now a rising second-grader living in Lynchburg with her biological mother, who, incidentally, has since renounced her homosexuality, and attends the Sunday services at the archconservative Thomas Road Baptist Church, yep, that Thomas Road Baptist Church, the long-time province of Moral Majority frontman Jerry Falwell, to prove it. Miller and Jenkins, who still lives in Vermont, have been battling in court for five years over the visitation order from Vermont, with Jenkins holding the upper hand, getting two favorable judicial opinions from the Virginia Court of Appeals, another from the Virginia Supreme Court and an effective victory at the level of the United States Supreme Court, which in December let the Virginia Supreme Court ruling in favor of Jenkins stand.
The issue is cut-and-dried in the legal sense. The Virginia Court of Appeals and the Vermont Supreme Court have both held that Vermont has sole jurisdiction over the matter and that Virginia must honor the Vermont court’s rulings. Under federal law, a state court may not interfere with an ongoing custody proceeding in another state.
The Miller saga is a cause more than a legal case. Even without a legal leg to stand on, Miller has become a cause celebre among social conservatives looking for a leg up in the ongoing debate over civil rights for gays and lesbians. And I can see why the social conservatives are fighting this one so heartily. Because even in the face of so much in our current legal system that makes life tough on gays and lesbians, particularly here in Virginia, which not only doesn’t allow for same-sex marriage but places multiple other legal strictures on gays and lesbians, this case is one where the law is clearly on the side not of the woman who has renounced her homosexuality to begin a new life, but on the side of the evil lesbian who no doubt will teach little Isabella a thing or two about, you know, the homosexual agenda, whatever that is.
This is a little girl, for Christ’s sake, protection of the family unit and family values and all that rigmarole. Lose this one, and God knows what might happen next.
It’s called equal protection under the law. And it’s not too far down the road.
- Column by Chris Graham