Miller-Jenkins custody battle continues

For the fifth time, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a petition from ex-lesbian Lisa Miller who has been fighting a Vermont Supreme Court order that she share custody with her ex-civil union partner of a child they had together.

The latest rejection came Monday, November 8 but they have each been essentially the same dispute and one involving which court has jurisdiction over a custody matter—a state which made the initial ruling (in this case Vermont) or a state where one parent has moved in order to find a more favorable ruling (Virginia).

Lisa Miller entered into a civil union with Janet Jenkins in Vermont in 2000, and Miller gave birth to their daughter in 2002. The family lived in Vermont until the women’s relationship ended, whereupon Miller moved to Virginia with the child.

Miller initially asked a family court in Vermont to dissolve the civil union and determine custody, and the court granted custody to Miller with visitation for Jenkins. But later, Miller, who no longer identifies as a lesbian, asked a Virginia court rule that, because of its ban on legal recognition for same-sex couples, she was the child’s sole legal parent. But the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that it had to abide by the Vermont family court’s ruling and Vermont’s jurisdiction in the case.

Miller’s legal appeals over the past seven years have been before the U.S. Supreme Court before but to no avail. Meanwhile, she has been in hiding with the eight-year-old girl for more than a year, refusing to comply with the Vermont court’s order to allow Jenkins’ visitation. Miller has been ruled in contempt of court for defying a Vermont court order that she allow Jenkins visitation and, as a result of that, the court has subsequently granted legal custody to Jenkins.

Attorneys for Jenkins—both the ACLU of Virginia and Lambda Legal Defense—argued against granting review of Miller’s appeal, noting that her fugitive status with the child makes it “impossible for this court to assume that any order it issues could be enforced.”

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