This case just goes on and on (Daily Mail, 4/23/11). Glenn’s written several pieces about it over the years, the first as early as 2006. But as Yogi once said, “it ain’t over till it’s over,” and this one still ain’t over.
‘This one’ is the Janet Jenkins/Lisa Miller custody battle over their daughter, Isabella. Years ago, Jenkins and Miller were a couple. Both wanted a child, so they found a sperm donor and Miller became pregnant and gave birth to a little girl.
For her part, Jenkins was there every step of the way, supporting Miller during her pregnancy, waiting with her during labor and at the hospital. She was a hands-on mom who did the majority of the breadwinning for the couple and their child.
In short, she was the “father” and Miller was the mother.
Not surprisingly, when the two split up, the court treated Jenkins and Miller exactly that way. It gave Miller primary custody and Jenkins visitation.
All that would have been unfair to Jenkins, just as it’s unfair to the millions of fathers who get the same short shrift every year, but the matter didn’t end there. That’s because Miller not only didn’t want to maintain a relationship with Jenkins, she didn’t consider herself a lesbian anymore. Plus, she had come to believe that lesbianism was morally wrong.
That in turn led her to do what we so often see mothers doing – trying to cut the father out of his child’s life. Only in this case, the “father” was Janet Jenkins. So, just as in so many cases, the mother moved out of state (from Vermont to Virginia) and refused to allow any contact between Jenkins and the child they’d both helped raise.
Several years and numerous court hearings later, the judge finally transferred custody to Jenkins, but it was too late. That was early last year and Miller was nowhere to be found and she still isn’t. No one seems to know where she or the little girl are.
But I suspect we may be about to find out. The linked-to article tells us that the FBI has arrested a Tennessee pastor named Timothy Miller in connection with the disappearance of Lisa Miller and the child. (It’s currently unknown if the pastor is related to Lisa Miller.)
The FBI believes that he facilitated Lisa’s international flight with the child, apparently to Nicaragua. His telephone calls and emails reveal his contact with the Nicaraguan airline, TACA, to arrange a flight from Canada to the Central American country for two people that could not be routed through the United States.
Into the bargain, it’s thought that the two may be hiding out in a beach house owned by Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.
With any luck, Timothy Miller will soon become acquainted with the importance of cooperating with authorities and spilling the beans about where Lisa Miller and Isabella are. Of course, he may see assisting the kidnapping as his moral duty to keep the child out of the hands of her lesbian parent. So he may keep mum and do his time, which would be up to three years if he’s convicted.
In the meantime, Jenkins’ lawyer thinks the pastor’s arrest is a big break in the case and I hope she’s right. Child kidnapping and Miller’s other forms of alienating Isabella from Jenkins are clearly forms of child abuse and should not be rewarded. Specifically, Isabella should be turned over to Jenkins and Lisa Miller should spend some time in jail.
And if Falwell or his university have taken any part in this abusive affair, Jenkins should bring a civil suit against them.
So that’s the latest, and it may be an important development. Whatever may come of it, the case still dramatically reinforces the treatment dads receive by family courts and the mothers of their children. With more and more same-sex couples having children, these types of child custody battles are increasingly common. To learn more, see F & F’s MSN.com column With Gay Marriage Comes Gay Divorce: The Rise of Lesbian Custody Battles (10/15/09).