Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Liberty Counsel Asks Supreme Court to Settle Legal Battle Between States Over Same-Sex Unions

Washington, DC - Today Liberty Counsel filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, asking the Court to protect Lisa Miller's custody rights as the biological mother of a child born after 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. While living in Virginia, Lisa and Janet traveled to Vermont to obtain a civil union. Ms. Miller is represented by Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, and law professor Rena Lindevaldsen, who is of counsel with Liberty Counsel.
The Miller v. Jenkins case is unique because it represents the first time that courts in two states have issued conflicting decisions over a single same-sex union case. It is also the first case to involve dueling federal laws, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), which predates DOMA. Liberty Counsel argues that the Court should hear the case for two reasons. First, this case involves an important question of federal law that has not been decided by the Court concerning the scope and effect of DOMA and PKPA. DOMA recognizes state sovereignty under the Full Faith and Credit Clause so that one state is not directly or indirectly compelled by another state to redefine its own definition of marriage. Second, the Court needs to resolve a split among the states on the scope of parental rights that still exists following the Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville. At least eighteen states, including Vermont, have judicially appointed de facto or "psychological" parents over the objections of fit, biological parents. Conversely, at least twelve states have reached the opposite conclusion. The important question of federal law concerning what rights fit, biological parents have in the face of claims to parentage rights by third parties has yet to be settled by this Court.
Commenting on the case, Mathew D. Staver stated: "The growing conflict and confusion among the states concerning custody and parentage orders arising from same-sex relationships makes it necessary for the U.S. Supreme Court to address the rights of fit, biological parents. The federal Defense of Marriage Act allows an individual state to define its own marriage policy. One state should not be allowed to force another state to accept relationships arising from civil unions or same-sex marriage. In Virginia, marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and civil unions are not recognized. Virginia has a right to guard its borders to uphold the family and protect the parental rights of biological parents over the rights of unrelated third parties.