In a case seemingly headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the dueling moms are fighting North and South. Yesterday in Montpelier, Vermont, lawyers for both women argued before the Vermont Supreme Court. Next Wednesday, in Richmond, Virginia, they will do the same before that state's Court of Appeals.
If each state holds to its position, the feds will have to decide it.
The AP covered the Vermont hearing. Rena Lindevaldsen (of the Florida anti-gay crusading firm Liberty Counsel) argued for Lisa Miller-Jenkins, the biological mother of the daughter the two lesbians shared when they came to Vermont from Virginia for a civil union. They had an artificially inseminated child. Janet Miller-Jenkins adopted the daughter.
Now, Lisa claims to be an ex-lesbian. She took the child to Virginia and sued for sole custody.
Lindevaldsen claims that the civil union was illegal, because the women were from a different state. Associate Justice John Dooley III, noted that most of his state's civil unions were for out-of-state couples. The norm was to ignore that stipulation.
The women had returned to Vermont to dissolve their civil union. Virginia does not recognize such unions and says they have no force of law for custody there.
A GLAD lawyer, Jennifer Levi, represents Janet Miller-Jenkins. She dwelt on the previous ruling by a Rutland Family Court judge that gave her client parental rights. She calls Lisa's move with the child "forum shopping," looking for a state that will rule her way. Federal law forbids parents from seeking more favorable rulings after a disappointing one.
The states (or parties) could dicker and come to an agreement or this could drag out for years and go federal.
Lisa did not attend. Janet did.