Ex-Lesbian Christian Faces Deadline to Turn Over Child to Former Partner

( [email protected] ) Dec 30, 2009 02:09 PM EST

A Christian woman in Virginia must turn over her daughter to her former lesbian partner in Vermont before 1 p.m. Friday or face possible arrest.

Lisa Miller, the birth mother of 7-year-old Isabella, however, appears to have “disappeared with the minor child” and ceased communication with her attorneys, according to Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen, who awarded custody of the girl to Janet Jenkins on Nov. 20.

Miller's request to delay the transfer of Isabella to Jenkins, meanwhile, has been denied.

Cohen, who turned down Miller's request last Tuesday, said last month that the only way to ensure equal access to Isabella was to switch custody after Miller repeatedly refused to abide by a court-ordered custody arrangement. He also said the benefits to the child of having access to both parents would be worth the difficulties of the change.

Miller, however, claims that Isabella exhibited "violent reactions" to spending with Jenkins and was even forced at one time to bathe with her.

"I do not feel safe leaving my daughter with her, and I believe I have a God-given and constitutional right to raise my child as I see fit," Miller had told Newsweek.

"There is a homosexual agenda at work here, and Isabella is a pawn in their game,” she added.

Miller, a born-again Christian, had renounced her homosexuality just a few years after entering into a civil union with Jenkins in Vermont in 2000. Jenkins, on the other hand, is today still an active lesbian and has expressed disapproval in raising Isabella in a Christian home.

For the past five years, Miller and Jenkins have been engaged in a custody battle over Isabella, who was conceived when the two women were living together in Virginia. Initial litigation focused only on whether Virginia had to register the Vermont order. The present case centers on whether Virginia must enforce the terms of the civil union order.

Earlier this month, lawyers representing Miller and Jenkins presented their respective arguments before Virginia Court of Appeals, which will decide whether Virginia must enforce a custody order and visitation order arising from the dissolved Vermont same-sex civil union.

Though final arguments were heard Dec. 9, there is no set time frame in which the Virginia Court of Appeals will issue its ruling.

Presently, Virginia’s state law and constitution expressly ban enforcement of any right or order arising from same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. Despite this, failure on Miller’s part to turn Isabella over to Jenkins would place her in contempt of the Vermont court and likely result in a warrant for her arrest.

Notably, as Miller's supporters point out, Jenkins has neither a biological nor legal relationship with Isabella and has reportedly neither attempted to phone nor write Isabella for the last five years - claims that have been denied by Jenkins' supporters.

Seeking to transfer custody of Isabella to Jenkins are the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Lambda Legal Defense Fund. Defending Miller, meanwhile, is Fla.-based Liberty Counsel.

The case is Miller-Jenkins v. Miller-Jenkins.