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ACLU's Request to Jail Lisa Miller Fails in Virginia Court

by Staff
August 26, 2009

WINCHESTER, VA, ( -- Earlier today, Liberty Counsel appeared in court to defend Lisa Miller from a complaint filed by the ACLU of Virginia on behalf of Janet Jenkins. The ACLU asked the judge to order Lisa to jail for not delivering her own daughter, Isabella, to Vermont for unsupervised visitation with Janet. The ACLU also requested Lisa to pay attorneys fees and costs. No jail time was ordered and the court rejected the ACLU's request for money.

Although the court ruled that Lisa had violated a Vermont judge's visitation order, no fines were assessed against her. The court ordered that Lisa pay $100 per day for pending visitation orders issued in Vermont, but there are no pending visitation orders at this time. The ACLU vigorously argued against Liberty Counsel's requested change of venue to Bedford County, where Lisa lives and Isabella attends school. However, the court ruled that future disputes in this case will be heard in Bedford County.

This fall the Virginia Court of Appeals will hear oral argument on the issue of whether Virginia must enforce Vermont's orders in this case. The appeals court previously ruled that Virginia must recognize Vermont's orders but has not ruled on the enforcement issue. Liberty Counsel has maintained that Virginia courts cannot enforce child custody orders arising out of Vermont same-sex civil unions.

Last year a Vermont judge gave Janet Jenkins visitation rights with Lisa's daughter. Last week Liberty Counsel appeared in Vermont to answer a complaint by Janet, asking the judge to change custody from Lisa to Janet. Janet is a practicing lesbian, who is neither Isabella's biological nor her adoptive mother.

Unrefuted testimony has shown that for the last five years, Janet has neither attempted to phone nor write Isabella. She has never sent Isabella a card of any kind for any occasion. Janet has refused to attend Isabella's Christmas plays because she does not want to be around a Christian environment. She has also said that it is not in Isabella's best interest to be raised in a Christian home. The Vermont judge is withholding a ruling on Janet's request for custody of Isabella pending the outcome of today's hearing in Virginia.

Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: "I am very pleased that Isabella will have her mother with her tonight where she belongs, rather than in the jail cell the ACLU originally intended. We look forward to the court of appeals, for the first time later this year, addressing the enforcement of this Vermont same-sex civil union order. Virginia's Constitution and public policy clearly do not recognize orders arising from same-sex civil unions. Virginia law affirms the common sense definition of marriage between one man and one woman."

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