This is from today’s New York Times and fills in some of the details. It ties back to my last post. Obviously there are many disputes over the facts and I have no access to any information beyond what is available to the public. But this article (and a little reflection over the weekend) do raise some questions that interest me.
First, you can see the ways in which politics and family law become intertwined. Miller’s rejection of Jenkins is related to her rejection of homosexuality. It’s a little hard to identify cause and effect here, but likely it’s all interwoven on a personal level. Continue reading
From time to time I have written about a case involving two women (Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins) who had a child together. Time for another update as there has been an arrest in the case.
I will not go into great detail about the underlying case here–you can follow links back to read the whole tale. In brief, the women separated and Miller sought to deny that Jenkins was a legal parent. (If Jenkins were not a legal parent, there’s no doubt that Miller is entitled to sole custody.)
Miller raised her argument in Virginia, a state which is generally hostile to any claim that a child has two mothers. But Vermont had already made a determination on this point and it favored Jenkins. Continue reading
[NB. I originally had a switched the names of Miller and Jenkins in one paragraph. That may have caused confusion. I have now corrected this error.]
For quite some time I’ve been following a custody case involving two women who at one time had a Vermont civil union. Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller have been fighting over the custody of their seven year old daughter, Isabella, in courts in Vermont and Virginia.
I won’t rehearse the whole sorry story here–you can follow the links back if you like. Suffice it to say that Miller, who was trying to defeat Jenkins’ claim to status as a legal parent, sought to litigate in Virgina, a state well known to be very hostile to lesbian relationships. In the end, however, even the Virgina courts conceded that Vermont was entitled to decide the case, and so Jenkins was recognized as a legal parent.
Miller has refused to cooperate with the court-ordered visitation plan and has prevented Jenkins from exercising her right to spend time with her daughter. As a consequence, the Vermont court recently switched primary custody to Jenkins, who has consistently said she would facilitate Miller’s contact with Isabella.
All this sets the stage for yesterday’s story: Rather than comply with the court order, Miller has taken Isabella and vanished. Continue reading
There’s a case that has literally been dragging on for years that I’ve talked about repeatedly. (The link will lead you to the last most recent post and you can follow it backwards from there.) A new development is worthy of mention.
Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller were in a lesbian relationship. They had a child together–Isabella. She is now seven.
Jenkins and Miller split up in 2003 and fought over parentage of the child. Miller, who had given birth to Isabella, insisted that Jenkins was not a legal parent. She went to court in Virginia, a state notably hostile to lesbian and gay couples. Jenkins went to court in Vermont, a state far more supportive of lesbian and gay relationships. Continue reading
Following on the Vermont/Virginia saga from yesterday’s comment, here’s a somewhat similar case. (That link is to Professor Arthur Leonard’s excellent blog, and I’ll also link to a more conventional news account of the case.)
This, too, is a case involving a dispute between lesbian mothers. And here, too, one woman invoked the anti-lesbian/gay marriage law of one state (there Virginia, here Michigan) in an attempt to escape the determination of parentage made by another state (there Vermont, here Illinois).
There are, however, also some significant differences. In particular, in this instance both women were parents by virtue of having completed adoptions. What’s really important there is that the woman whose status was challenged had completed the legal process needed to make her a full parent in the eyes of Illinois law.
Legal parents, no matter how they get to be legal parents, have equivilant parental rights. In addition, once a person completes an adoption in one state to make her (or him) a parent, other states are obliged to recognize that legal status as well.
What’s notable about what happened in this case is that the Michigan judge recognized the parental rights of the woman in question, but did not issue an order vindicating those rights. The judge’s refusal was based on her reading of the Michigan law that prohibits recognition of same-sex relationships which enacted in the anti-marriage fervor of the past few years.
It’s not remotely clear to me how recognizing the legal parental rights of the mother of these kids amounted to recognizing the relationship she had had with the other mother. But it does demonstrate, once again, how entangled parentage and marriage can become.
The appellate court has now acted to recognize the rights as well as the status of the plaintiff.
This is just a quick follow-up on a case I commented on some time ago. The easiest way to get up to speed on the facts is to follow that link there and read the earlier posting. This is one of those regrettable cases where a lesbian (here an apparently former lesbian) turns on her former partner/coparent and denies her status as a parent.
There is one thing that is clearly wrong with that earlier post of mine, in retrospect. Notice that then I said the opinion marked “the end” of the saga. Wrong-o. Here’s today’s news story.
Truly this is both a never-ending and a heart-wrenching story. The case began in 2004. It seems clear now that, like it or not, this child does have two mothers. It seems even the Virginia mother must agree on that point now. The law is quite clear. So years have passed, during which time the child does not get to see one of her mothers. Continue reading