Get your anti-gay laws off our children

So says Lambda Legal, who report that they have “been fighting to stem the tide of antigay litigation unleashed by Proposition One, Ohio’s constitutional amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples, ever since the law passed.”

For proof that the real intent behind the proposed Marshall-Newman amendment in Virginia is to undermine and ultimately eliminate the ability of GLBT people to live freely in society, build a life with the person we love, and establish and care for our families, you need look no farther than Ohio and Michigan, where very similar amendments have been in effect since 2004.

In Michigan, a national anti-gay organization is suing the University of Michigan for offering domestic partner benefits to employees. A similar lawsuit has been filed against Miami University in Ohio.

The Ohio amendment was also used as the basis of a custody suit involving two mothers and their son. The women had received joint custody from an Ohio court, but the biological mother later sought to invalidate the agreement on the basis of Ohio’s amendment. The domestic relations court defended the nonbiological mother’s custody rights and stated that the marriage-related amendment has no bearing on the parent-child relationship. The court’s ruling in the case, according to Lambda Legal attorney Camilla Taylor, shows that “you can’t use a constitutional amendment as a weapon to attack a cherished relationship between a child and an adult that that child considers a parent.”

“As well you shouldn’t,” adds Charles at Two Conservatives.

While we certainly agree, Charles then goes on to argue that the ruling in this Ohio case proves that concerns about the consequences of the Marshall-Newman amendment are misplaced, or even fabricated:

These two people were in love, and wanted to raise a family. They received protection to make medical decisions that was legally binding, and the Ohio amendment, which is essentially the same as Virginia’s amendment, had no effect on that agreement to provide for medical decisions.

It’s very interesting that he says this. In an almost identical case heard in Virginia, with the additional complication that the complaining parent kidnapped the couple’s daughter, fled to Virginia, and then filed for sole custody in violation of the federal law designed to prevent this sort of jurisdiction shopping, the Virginia court came to exactly the opposite conclusion.

The Winchester judge openly affirmed the argument of the attorney for Lisa Miller-Jenkins: That Virginia’s “Affirmation of Marriage Act” was intended to be used precisely as the means to attack a cherished relationship between a child and an adult that that child considers a parent. “This is clearly what the law was intended to do,” said the judge in rendering his opinion that Lisa was not obligated to honor the custody decision of a Vermont court that awarded visitation rights to her former partner.

Hopefully, (though he is still expressing support for the amendment) Charles will be kind enough to share with us his views on the outcome of this case. Considering his strongly stated opinion that the Ohio domestic relations court ruled correctly in affirming the parent-child relationship, and his (erroneous) assumption that a Virginia court would do the same, will he advocate for a humane ruling to reunite Isabella Miller-Jenkins with both of her parents?

Furthermore, since the language of the amendment extends the restrictions imposed by the “Affirmation of Marriage Act” to ALL unmarried couples, not only same sex couples, the opportunity for this sort of mischief increases exponentially. It’s time for advocates of the amendment to stop making the erroneous statement that it “only adds to the constitution what already exists in law.” It does not.

It’s obvious from this already existing opinion from a Virginia court that the pro-family victory in Ohio cannot be relied upon as evidence of what the Virginia amendment will and won’t be used for. We’ve already seen what it will be used for.

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5 Responses to Get your anti-gay laws off our children

  1. Yet another example of the problems with government messing with defining of a family. Once you start legally defining family (especially getting more restrictive) does this start affecting other things? Zoning? Medical Care?

  2. David says:


    I think you are probably right about many people who support the amendment disagreeing with you about the Ohio ruling, and those people need to seriously ask themselves what it is they believe they will gain by causing harm to these families. It’s hard enough on kids when their parents break up without piling on all kinds of additional punishment.

    Yes, because the law has been enacted, we already know how the “Affirmation of Marriage Act” is being applied by Virginia judges: To invalidate the legal agreements that people have entered into to protect their families. While it is a lie to say that the proposed amendment “only puts in the constitution what is already in law,” we know from the portion that is already in law what it will be used for. The amendment, because it extends its reach to heterosexual couples as well, has the potential to harm many, many more families and children.

    Actually, the couple in the Virginia case couldn’t have obtained their agreement as a privately written contract in Virginia. There is no second parent adoption, or any other form of recognizing a legal status for the parent-child relationship, available in Virginia, so that issue is moot. The point is that, as you put it, “These two people were in love, and wanted to raise a family. They received protection [for their family relationships] that was legally binding..” and the fact that it was legally binding was blatantly ignored by a Virginia court.

    This point is only strengthened by the fact that the agreement was entered into in another state. Not only did the Virginia court disrespect a legally binding agreement made in another state, it ignored a prior custody order issued in that state. This is a violation of the federal statute that prohibits a court from issuing a custody order that conflicts with a custody order already issued in another state. The first custody order automatically takes precedence. Without this federal statute, every parent who didn’t like a custody order would be tempted to snatch their kids and run to another state to try and get one more to their liking. This law exists for a reason.

    The fact that a Virginia court would rule that the “public policy of Virginia to not recognize the unmarried relationship” of these two women trumps a very reasonable and neccessary federal law is a harbinger of the litigation that could ensue if this public policy is not only constitutionalized, but extended to unmarried heterosexual couples. The Ohio court ruled one way – good for them. The Virginia court has already ruled the opposite way, so the Ohio ruling means nothing for us. The Virginia court will not “find for the contract.”

    Finally, to say that you are “sure nobody here would agree” with you is unwarrented and illogical. I can’t speak for “everybody,” whoever they are, but I of course support the right of your hypothetical mother to marry the person of her choice, whoever that person is, and raise their child. The issue here is not just gaining custody for her and her new partner, but using Virginia law to cut all contact between a parent and child who love each other. If she did it, others can too. That’s just wrong and vindictive, and I don’t think we should be giving people the tools to do that sort of thing through litigation.

    I don’t feel that you’re being “in your face at” all. I questioned something you said, and you responded. I appreciate that, and you’re welcome to stop by anytime.

  3. pastor john says:

    demons be gone!

  4. Lawrence-Norfolk says:

    Ok… so I’m mostly nobody as Ralph Ellison so eloquently stated, “an invisible man…” No one knows me but damnit, my opinion matters so here goes: >whew