Thursday, November 30, 2006

VA and PA: Custody cases (lesbian couples after separattion)

On Thurday Nov 30, 2006, The Washington Post featured an editorial, “Justice for a Parent and Child: Virginia Court of Appeals does the right thing for common sense and custody laws.” The editoril is here.

The case is Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins. After a lesbian couple cemented with a Vermont civil union broke up, the biological mother Lisa tried to shield her daughter from the other parent’s visitation by taking her to Virginia. The lower court allowed this (on the theory that a biological parent's rights always trump under Virginia law), but the appeals court held that federal law prevents Virginia from interfering with the custody proceedings of another state, here Vermont. This means that couples cannot do state “forum shopping” to take advantage of anti-gay policies in other states with respect to child custody issues.

Here is another perspective from a libertarian blogger, at this link.

There was a distantly related case from Pennsylvania about the same time.

http://www.center4civilrights.org/
Specifically, here.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Nov. 29 2006 refused to hear a challenge to an appellate decision which affirmed that Pennsylvania’s non-biological, non-adoptive same-sex (here, lesbian) parents have the right to primary custody of their children. The case involved a lesbian couple, Patricia Jones and Ellen Boring, who had lived together for several years and had twins together through alternative insemination. While not he biological mother of the children, Patricia Jones took on all the responsibilities of a co-parent to the boys. In 2000, after four years, the couple separated. In 2001 a Bucks County PA court entered a custody order that recognized that Jones had acted in the place of a parent and consequently gave her visitation with the children.

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