Liberty Counsel



Liberty Counsel Files Brief At Vermont Supreme Court Arguing That A Vermont Civil Union Issued To Virginia Residents Is Void And That Virginia Law Controls Parental Rights Concerning A Minor Child

Orlando, FL - Liberty Counsel filed a brief with the Vermont Supreme Court on behalf of Lisa Miller in order to protect her custody rights as the biological mother of a child born from artificial insemination during her Vermont civil union with Janet Jenkins. The case pits Virginia law, which does not recognize same-sex unions, against Vermont law, which recognizes same-sex civil unions. Ms. Miller is represented by Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, and Rena Lindevaldsen, Senior Litigation Counsel.

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins cohabited in a same-sex relationship for several years in Virginia. In December 2000, Lisa and Janet traveled to Vermont and entered into a civil union. Vermont is the only state to authorize civil unions. They returned to Virginia, and while there, Lisa gave birth to a child through artificial insemination. Lisa and Janet later moved to Vermont and lived there for approximately one year before the couple ended their relationship, in part because of Janet's abuse. Lisa, who has become a Christian, moved back to Virginia with her daughter. Janet continues to reside in Vermont, where she filed a complaint to establish "parent-child contact." Lisa filed an action in Virginia to determine parentage. The Virginia court issued an order determining Lisa to be the sole parent and refused to recognize the Vermont order.

The brief filed with the Vermont Supreme Court argues that a Vermont civil union issued to the couple when they were residents of Virginia is void. Vermont law prohibits the issuance of licenses to residents of another state when that state does not recognize the Vermont license. When Lisa and Janet obtained the Vermont civil union, they both resided in Virginia. Virginia does not recognize same-sex unions or civil unions. Thus, the Vermont civil union is void. Moreover, a Virginia court refused to recognize the Vermont civil union and ruled that Lisa Miller is the sole legal parent of the minor child. The Virginia case is pending at the Virginia Court of Appeals and the Vermont action is pending at the Vermont Supreme Court. If both states continue to be in conflict over the validity of a Vermont civil union once the appeals are exhausted, it is likely the United States Supreme Court will take up the matter to resolve the dispute.

Mathew Staver, stated: "Same-sex unions will inevitably cause havoc among the states when one state law collides with another. Since children are caught in the middle of this battle, Congress should move quickly to pass a bill to amend the United States Constitution to preserve traditional marriage. Let the people vote and put an end to this madness."