To simplify to the bare legalities, two women from Virginia moved to Vermont, joined in civil union, and had a daughter together. The biological mom left, with their daughter they were raising as co-moms, and returned to Virginia. She denied the visitation required by Vermont and sued locally for full custody.
In short, it was an all too common spiteful divorce with a child involved. The wrinkles included that Virginia does not recognize civil unions and she was trying to pit one state's laws and sovereignty against another's. Boo.
The more elegant wording from Virginia's court includes:
This case does not place before us the question whether Virginia recognizes the civil union entered into by the parties in Vermont. The only question before us is whether, considering the (Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act), Virginia can deny full faith and credit to the orders of the Vermont court. It cannot.We add that in light of the hard-nosed legislatures in such states as Virginia, this is refreshing.
While a lower Virginia court ruled for the biological mom/resident, the three-judge panel said the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act was more important than that finding. The justices did not comment on the Vermont case, nor did they discuss the differing views of civil unions in the states.
Yet, even this narrow ruling on a fine point of law may have fallout, according to analysis in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. University of Richmond constitutional law expert Carl Tobias said, "It may set off a political firestorm." He may be overly dramatic about it, particularly considering that 27 states have their anti-SSM amendments in place. As the article puts it, "He worried that the case could be used in the national battle over constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. Supporters argue the constitutional bans are essential to rein in so-called activist judges. Virginia voters approved the prohibition this month."
Instead, this could represent a slight chilling in the icicle-length distances anti-SSM state courts have kept from civil union and SSM ones. Perhaps not all judges are cowed by the screaming legislators.
Tags: massmarrier, civil union, child custody, Virginia, Vermont