Fathers and Families supporters have seen it many times before–a couple splits up and one partner raises heaven and earth to prevent the other from playing a meaningful part in his or her child”s life. In extreme cases, one parent even hides the child from the other parent.
The highly-publicized Jenkins/Miller child custody battle is the same, except that the dispute is between two women–biological mother Lisa Miller and social mother Janet Jenkins. The pair agreed to have a child together, got a sperm donor together, and raised their daughter, Isabella, together until they split.
Miller then denied Jenkins any role in Isabella”s life and, when she lost her child custody case, disappeared with the girl. Fathers and Families has long defended Jenkins in the media–for more background on the case, see F & F”s MSN.com column With Gay Marriage Comes Gay Divorce: The Rise of Lesbian Custody Battles (10/15/09).
As Fathers and Families Board Member Robert Franklin, Esq. recently explained in his blog post Break in Jenkins/Miller Case: Pastor Arrested, Charged with Abetting Kidnapping, it now appears that authorities may have the leads they need to locate the girl and, hopefully, reunite her with Jenkins.
Child custody disputes involving homosexual couples are becoming increasingly common and are often contentiously litigated. Unlike many groups focusing on LGBT issues, we do not see these disputes as centering on primarily gay/lesbian rights. Instead, we see them as family court issues comparable to those involving disputes between married heterosexual couples where the man is infertile and children are conceived through the recruitment of a sperm donor. Such children are considered the children of the marriage, and are raised by both the mother and father.
When a couple divorces, one parent should not be able to decide that, because he or she is the only biological parent, he or she can drive the ex out of their child”s life. Both parents agreed to have a child together, and they both have a parent-child relationship with their child. The child”s right to a relationship with both parents must be protected.
While F & F does not take any official position on gay marriage or gay rights issues, we do defend the rights of all parents–male or female, biological or adoptive, gay or straight.
Jenkins has for many years been represented in court and in the media by the Boston-based advocacy group Gay & Lesbian Advocate Defenders. GLAD has been very effective, repeatedly winning in court, but the court”s orders have not been effectively enforced. F & F spoke with a GLAD representative today, commended the organization for its good work, and offered our support.