WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. Supreme Court declined April 30 to accept a case involving a parental rights dispute between two women previously in a same-sex civil union.
The high court’s refusal to review the case means a legal battle will continue for now between two states, Vermont and Virginia. Vermont has civil unions and recognizes parental rights for lesbian partners who do not give birth. Virginia does not recognize same-sex unions or parental rights stemming from them.
The justices had been asked to review a ruling by the Vermont Supreme Court granting parental rights to Janet Jenkins despite the protests of Lisa Miller, the biological mother.
Jenkins and Miller entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000, and both changed their last names to Miller-Jenkins. At the time, they lived in Virginia. In April 20002, Miller gave birth to a girl, Isabella, who was conceived by artificial insemination from an anonymous sperm donor with the agreement of Jenkins. They moved to Vermont that August but separated about a year later. Miller and her daughter returned to Virginia.
Miller departed from lesbianism and began practicing a Christian lifestyle. She has declined to allow Jenkins to have contact with Isabella after initially permitting visitation under an order from a Vermont court.
A Vermont court has ruled Miller is in contempt. Courts in Vermont and Virginia have clashed, with both ruling they have jurisdiction to determine parental rights in the case.
Advocates on both sides of the cultural battle are watching the case closely. While homosexual activist organizations have applauded the legal decisions in Vermont, pro-family groups have backed the rulings in Virginia.
Mat Staver, chairman of the pro-life, pro-religious freedom organization Liberty Counsel, predicted the case, which has numerous aspects, will return to the Supreme Court soon.
“The clash between Vermont and Virginia illustrates the need for protection, so that one state is not forced to accept same-sex unions from another state,” Staver said in a written release.
The case is Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins.
Compiled by Tom Strode.