In 2000, Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins entered a civil union in Vermont. In 2002, Isabella Ruth Miller-Jenkins was born and the family shortly thereafter moved to Vermont to raise little Elizabeth Isabella in an environment that would be supportive of her family.
In the fall of 2003 the couple broke up. They agreed to end the civil union and the court approved the settlement. Janet agreed to pay child support and to visit Isabella regularly.
However, Lisa, who had taken Isabella and moved back to Virginia, fell into an anti-gay religious crowd. She decided that she was no longer a lesbian and that homosexuality was sin and developed hostility to both Janet and “the homosexual lifestyle”.
Then Exodus International stepped in. They got her in contact with Liberty Counsel who immediately made little Isabella’s life a centerpiece for their anti-gay activism.
Since 2004, Miller and Jenkins have been fighting in court over whether Jenkins could have any sort of relationship with her daughter. So far, every decision has ended with the confirmation that Janet Jenkins was entitled to visitation and that Virginia is not going to ignore the terms that the Vermont courts had put in place as a part of the termination of their civil union.
But, at the advice of Liberty Counsel, Miller has sought to thwart the will of the various courts. She simply refused to live up to the visitation terms. Further, she sought to deliberately instill the child with religion-based animus towards Jenkins and even went so far as to accuse her of molestation (social services called the claim “unfounded”).
In August, the Virginia courts opted not to jail Lisa Miller for contempt, but did levy fines of $100 per day for missed visitation. This did not seem to make an impression on Miller. (nvdaily)
“I’m going to continue to take a stand for the Lord, no matter what the cost, because that’s what a Christian is supposed to do,” she said.
But now one judge has had enough. Although Janet Jenkins did not originally request full custody, it appears that this is the only solution that will allow both parents to see the child. (Rutland Herald)
After finding Miller in contempt of court earlier this year for denying Jenkins access to Isabella, Cohen said he decided the only way to ensure the child equal access to both parents was to switch custody.
“The court concludes that it is in the best interest of (Isabella) that Ms. Jenkins exercise parental rights and responsibilities,” the judge said. “This court stated that continued interference by Ms. Miller with the relationship between (Isabella) and Ms. Jenkins could lead to a change of circumstances and outweigh the disruption that would occur if a change of custody were ordered.”
Judge William Cohen determined that this would be in the best interest of Isabella.
The switch in custody is to take place New Years Day. Jenkins has vowed to provide visitation to Miller, even allowing her to take Isabella to church events.
But only a fool would assume that this story is over. With advice from the likes of Liberty Counsel, and a sense of religious entitlement, I would be surprised if Miller complied with the order. And even if she does, Liberty Counsel will only have more fodder for their gimme money letters to supporters so the legal appeals are not likely to end before this poor kid is a teenager.
- December 1997 – Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins meet at an AA meeting in Virginia. They move in together a few months later. They make commitments to each other.
- July 1, 2000 – Vermont legalizes civil unions.
- December 19, 2000 – Lisa and Janet travel to Vermont and enter a civil union.
- July 2001 – Lisa Miller was inseminated with sperm from an anonymous donor. The donor was selected to have traits that matched those of Janet Jenkins.
- April 16, 2002 – Isabella Ruth Miller Jenkins was born. Jenkins cut the umbilical cord.
- August 2002 – Lisa, Janet, and Isabella move to Vermont.
- 2003 – the couple tried further fertility treatments. Lisa did not sustain a pregnancy.
- Fall 2003 – Lisa takes Isabella and leaves Janet, moving back to Virginia. Janet agrees to pay child support and to visit Isabella regularly.
- November 23, 2003 – Lisa files in Vermont to dissolve the civil union
- January 2004 – Janet counterclaims in Vermont for custody
- March 2004 – Lisa hires a lesbian lawyer and waived her objection to Janet as a parent
- 2004 – Lisa begins finding religion – specifically Baptist religion – and comes to believe that homosexuality is sin and that she is the sole parent of Isabella and that Janet is unrelated.
- April 23, 2004 – Lisa faxes a letter to her lawyer saying that she did not agree that Janet was a parent to Isabella. The attorney withdrew from the case.
- May 2004 – Lisa’s new lawyer tried to rebut the presumption that Janet was a parent. The judge refused to agree and insisted on a visitation schedule.
- Spring 2004 – Exodus International advises Lisa to hire Liberty Counsel. Lisa makes it increasingly difficult for Janet to see Isabella. Lisa recollection of facts becomes significantly different from that of all other parties.
- July 1, 2004 – Virginia’s anti-gay marriage prohibits the state from recognizing any same sex relationship (including contracts). Lisa’s lawyers sue in Virginia court to declare her the sole parent and to declare the legal actions in Vermont as void, illegal and unenforceable. Virginia’s Judge Prosser stayed unsupervised out-of-state visitation. Lisa refuses to allow Janet to see Isabella.
- October 15, 2004 – Judge Prosser declares Lisa the sole parent and invalidates Janet’s claims entirely. Vermont Judge Cohen ruled that Prosser’s order had no legal standing.
- Winter 2006 – Virginia Court of Appeals (three-judge panel) unanimously sides with Janet Jenkins, reversing Judge Prosser’s decision.
- August 2006 – Vermont Supreme Court unanimously sides with Janet Jenkins.
- December 2008 – US Supreme Court refuses to hear the case.
- August 2009 – Virginia courts assess penalties against Miller for visitation non-compliance.
- November 2009 – Vermont judge reassigns custody.