Legal fight in lesbian custody dispute ratchets up

by John Curran .
Tuesday Jan 5, 2010

A Vermont woman locked in a child custody battle with a former partner who has since renounced homosexuality asked a judge Monday to hold her ex in contempt and help find her and their 7-year-old daughter.

A lawyer for Janet Jenkins filed an emergency motion for contempt for not surrendering the couple's daughter, Isabella Miller-Jenkins, on Friday.

The motion seeks court sanctions and the assistance of law enforcement in locating Lisa Miller, whose last known address was Forest, Va., but whose whereabouts are now unknown.

"I am so worried about Isabella," Jenkins said in a written statement issued by her lawyer, Sarah Star. "I do not know where she is or whether she is okay."

Miller's lawyer, Mathew Staver, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

Miller and Jenkins got a civil union in 2000, and the girl was born to Miller after a pregnancy that began with artificial insemination.

They broke up a year later, and Miller moved to Virginia, setting the stage for a custody fight that has been closely watched by gay rights advocates, as well as conservative religious groups.

Courts in Virginia and Vermont have ruled in favor of Jenkins, even though she is not the biological mother. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear arguments on it.

The court filings Monday were made in family court in Rutland, Vt.

Judge William Cohen, who granted the couple's civil union dissolution and has presided over the custody battle since, didn't immediately rule on the contempt citation request or set a hearing date, court officials said.

A year ago, in ruling against Miller's bid to deny visitation by Jenkins, he warned Miller she risked losing custody of the girl if she continued to violate orders. On Nov. 20, he made good on the warning, ordering the custody change.

Jenkins' lawyers say their concern is the girl's safety.

"My goal has never been to separate Isabella from Lisa," Jenkins said in her statement. "I just want Isabella to know and love both of her parents. I just want to be with her, like any parent."

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  • BB, 2010-01-05 17:16:28

    If Jenkins would like the littl girl to know and love both of her PARENTS, then the person who inventions of people with political agendas, a "parent" is somebody who has contributed genetic material to the offspring, and two women cannot parent a child. The cynical manipulation of language surrounding this whole fascinating case is astonishing.

  • BB, 2010-01-05 17:21:49

    Lost some words in that last. The point being that any fealty to language and to the real meaning of words means that if this couple is interested in the child knowings its parents, then HE who contributed the semen is part of that equation. Two women cannot both be mothers of the same child except by the manipulations of the law and a hell of a lot of tortured logic.

  • , 2010-01-05 19:59:43

    wow those who adopt or don’t "donate" biological material watch out BB is reading Websters.

  • , 2010-01-05 20:26:17

    The thought that only those who donate to a child’s "creation" can be a parent seems rather unenlightened.

  • BB, 2010-01-06 20:57:03

    Oh, certainly unenlightened there 20:26! I’m just one of those men who get bloody tired of women thinking they can raise children all by themselves and that the influence of a man in a child’s life is negligible and meaningless. This is just one of those places where the falseness of the notion of LGBT as a single unified front believing whole heartedly in each other’s agendas rears its ugly head. :)

  • KWE, 2010-01-07 02:26:54

    Anyone can donate genetic material. A parent is one who raises a child. A parent is one who considers the child’s needs above their own. The absent, kidnapping mother seems to be putting her own feelings ahead of the child’s needs. Both women had a connection, and that connection is important.

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