You lose, Mr. Marshall

The Last Special Rights Crusader

The Virginia Supreme Court ruling on the Miller-Jenkins custody case was announced Friday morning. The unanimous decision upholds the right of Janet Jenkins to be part of her daughter’s life, as was originally determined by the Vermont court with jurisdiction in the matter. It also indicates that anti-gay state laws such as Virginia’s “Affirmation of Marriage Act” cannot be used to override federal and state laws designed to prevent custody “forum shopping” by disgruntled parents.

From the Equality Virginia press release:

Joseph R. Price of Arent Fox LLP, Washington, the lead attorney in the case representing Janet Jenkins, said, “This decision is fully consistent with Virginia, Vermont and Federal law relating to child custody disputes, and respects the requirements of the U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. The decision means that gay and lesbian parents can expect they will be treated just like any other parents in a custody dispute, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

For background on Miller v. Jenkins, see Equality Virginia’s FAQ.

Readers may recall that Lisa Miller’s court action seeking to dissolve her former spouse’s parental rights was filed the day after Delegate Bob Marshall’s “Affirmation of Marriage Act” went into effect. This case was intended to test the parameters of that law, and the the Frederick County judge openly affirmed the arguments of Marshall and the anti-gay organizations backing Lisa Miller. In rendering his opinion that Virginia was not obligated to honor the custody decision of another state’s court that recognizes the legal status of same sex relationships, he opined that “this is clearly what the law was intended to do.” The ruling was called in a Washington Post editorial at the time “legally flawed and morally reprehensible.”

And now it’s irrelevant and defunct, as well. Marshall (in his own words, “Virginia’s Chief Homophobe,” and “the Last Crusader”) admitted during the campaign for his eponymous and even more morally reprehensible “marriage” amendment that these campaigns are not about marriage at all, but are rather directed at discouraging GLBT people from living openly and with integrity (thereby – he hopes – slowing down the rapid decline of anti-gay bias in mainstream public opinion). He has proudly declared that the intention behind such legislation is to encourage the filing of test cases in order to generate the kind of judicial activism we saw in the 2004 Frederick County ruling. “That’s why I introduced the bill,” he said.

So, it seems that Marshall has won the battle and lost the war. While there may be ugly amendments defacing several of our state constitutions, GLBT people continue to live our lives openly, raise our families, share our stories with our neighbors, employers and legislators, and yes, fall in love and get married. June 5 marked the fifth anniversary of the Lawrence v. Texas ruling, and Lambda Legal hosted a reception and roundtable discussion on the current state of Sexuality, Liberty and the Constitution; the impressive panel included Paul Smith, who argued Lawrence before the Supreme Court, and Mandy Carter of the National Black Justice Coalition.

A couple of remarks by panelists particularly stand out in the context of this post. One, that five years after the ruling, we are only now beginning to see the first effects of Lawrence; and two, that progress is driven by setbacks. The Virginia amendment was certainly a setback, and there will be others; but it also creates the conditions that will be its own undoing. By all means, let’s put things like the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act and the U.S. Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause to the test – and while we’re at it, let’s take a good hard look at what people like Marshall really mean when they speak of “religious liberty.”

Marshall, et al, was successful in keeping a little girl apart from one of her moms for several years, if you can consider that “winning” something. But to do so would require a depth of moral poverty I am unwilling to contemplate.

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18 Responses to You lose, Mr. Marshall

  1. Mark says:

    But to do so would require a depth of moral poverty I am unwilling to contemplate.

    Interesting you use the word “moral” in conjunction with “poverty”. You must know Truth from Lies, eh? Can you tell your readers where you get your “morals” from, and why they are more True than Del. Marshall’s or any other folks who disagree with you?

  2. David says:

    I’d be happy to, Mark. Actions that decrease the happiness and increase the suffering of others are immoral, hence “moral poverty.”

  3. Mark says:

    Thanks David,
    I, like yourself and most rational folks do not like to see folks suffer and also enjoy being “happy”. But you did not answer my question – where (your source) do you get your “morals” from and why are they (your morals) more True than those who disagree with you?

  4. David says:

    Sorry if I was unclear. What I have told you is the source of all morality, not just “mine.” Otherwise, what meaning would the word have? If you have reason to believe that there is a source of morality taking the opposite view – that actions causing suffering are “good,” please share.

    In any case, the statement to which you originally refer is that it is immoral to deliberately deny contact between a parent and child who love each other.

  5. Mark says:

    So your source for morality is based on actions that result in the human emotion of making others less “happy” and to “suffer”. Would that definition not make our criminal justice system “moral poverty”? In any case, that really sounds more like a defintion – than a Source. Would I be wrong to conclude Your source for morality, therefore, is your own opinion of such actions? If so, why is your defintion anymore True than those who oppose you?

    You asked If you have reason to believe that there is a source of morality taking the opposite view – that actions causing suffering are “good,” please share.

    I do indeed Know, not believe, there is a source of morality that is independent of human emotion and desire, and that David is what is Truly tolerant. Do you think such a source exist?

  6. David says:

    Obviously, you are referring to your own religious beliefs – which is fine, but why not just say so?

    Morality exists independently of religious beliefs, yours or mine.

  7. Mark says:

    David,
    I am not refering to my own religious beliefs – I am refering to the Truth and its source.

    I agree with your statement 100% Morality exists independently of religious beliefs, yours or mine. Where does it exist David and how are we to know it is True and not False or evil? Don’t you think, as a reasonable man, that knowing such will help us?

  8. David says:

    What you’ve just told me is that you believe your beliefs about the world are true – to which I say, of course you do. That’s true of everybody. If we didn’t believe our beliefs were accurate they wouldn’t be our beliefs.

    Instead of talking about abstractions, why don’t we talk about the topic of this post. Do you, Mark, find anything moral about Lisa’s behavior in asking her former spouse Janet for child support (to which Janet readily agreed), requesting and accepting the Vermont court’s dissolution of their civil union, and agreeing to the custody arrangement rendered by that court – but then violating that agreement and federal law by taking their child Isabella to Virginia and refusing visitation between Janet and Isabella? If so, can you explain why it is moral? Do you think there is anything moral about Mr. Marshall’s encouragement and support for this behavior? If so, can you explain why it is moral?

  9. Mark says:

    What you’ve just told me is that you believe your beliefs about the world are true – to which I say, of course you do. That’s true of everybody. If we didn’t believe our beliefs were accurate they wouldn’t be our beliefs.

    That is not at all, what I said. I will quote myself again ” I do indeed Know, not believe, there is a source of morality that is independent of human emotion and desire,”

    David, you then ask me to make a “moral” judgement about a series of question’s related to this case? Since you have refused to say what your own source for morality is, why would you care? We both have opinions, but which one of us has the Truth and the intestinal fortitude to live by that Truth? In this case – Mr. Marshall is doing more for the Truth, than a lie that is satuarted with self motivated desires.

    These two women made a mistake in Vermont – a mistake in which now the State is sadly involved in. That’s why the Truth, independent of human emotion and desires is – Sexual relationships outside of One Man, One Woman in Marriage brings consequences, and a whole hosts of immorality stacked on more immorality. Is that my opinion, or my belief? No, it is the Truth and comes from the source of all Truth, God. Not just any god David, but the Christain God of the 66 books.

  10. David says:

    Let’s try again. You continue to state that your religious beliefs constitute something you call “the Truth.”

    Do you realize that it sounds very self-centered to insist that this is something other than your opinion? We all have opinions, Mark. It would do your argument more good to try supporting yours with some evidence, rather than just repeating your beliefs again.

    I haven’t asked you to make a “moral judgment” about anything. I have asked you to explain, in specific terms, what you think is moral about Lisa Miller’s specific behavior that I have described.

    Can you not do that?

  11. Mark says:

    Ok, – David said You continue to state that your religious beliefs constitute something you call “the Truth.”

    David,
    “Religious beliefs” like child sacrifices are wrong, evil, immoral. I do not live by my “religious” beliefs unless there SOURCE is True. I live by what is True. I asked you many times here, what is your source for TRUTH and you have not answered. I asked you why your Truth was any better than those who disagree with you – like Mr. Marshall for instance, you still have not answered.

    Since even those who sacrifice children have opinions – I agree with you, let’s move beyond our opinions and get to what is moral and immoral and why anyone else would agree or disagree.

    what you think is moral about Lisa Miller’s specific behavior that I have described.

    She left the lie, the immoral life of her same sex relationship for the Truth – the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Evidence: the tomb was empty, the word of God, reality, history, reason, logic and science.

    Can you, beyond your personal opinion, say that I am wrong for living by objective Truths and the evidence? Can you provide an independent source for morality divorced of human emotion and desire? If not, we are back to opinions, no?

  12. Dave says:

    Mark,

    First, I would suggest that you review the definitions of “truth”, “morality”, and “know”. Even given that your particular morality comes from God, in order to “know” the “truth”, you need something more than one book (or compendium, if you will), thousands of years old, written down, translated, and interpreted by humans. Morality, is, after all, an individual sense of right and wrong. No two are identical.

    (Maybe they SHOULD be identical, in your opinion, but that doesn’t change the fact that they aren’t. Just give a bunch of god-fearing folks the same questionnaire about “What would YOU do in these situations?” and watch the sparks fly. Bottom line, no one completely agrees with anyone else regarding what’s right and what’s wrong.)

    Second, it might be nice if you actually answered David’s question. I think we all understand that you find homosexual behavior immoral. That’s fine, but that’s not his question. The question is, is what Lisa did with the child moral or not? In MY opinion, regardless of whether the two adults in question were male, female, or some hybrid doesn’t change my opinion that what Lisa did was wrong. And the fact that Marshall is ok with it makes me question HIS morality.

    The simple question is that even if you disagree with Lisa and Janet’s sexual behavior and even if you believe that they shouldn’t be allowed to enter into a civil union, should their custody contract be honored (or not)?

    Why don’t give your opinion on whether Lisa was right or wrong? That’s a measure of your morality regardless of source.

  13. David says:

    Dave, I think you have identified the problem, which is basically that when Mark uses the term “objective” he is actually talking about something completely subjective, his belief. He is using the special language of orthodoxy, which gives ordinary words very different meanings than the ones the rest of us use.

    Mark, you didn’t ask me what I think the source of truth is, you asked me what I think the source of morality is. Those are very different questions.

    Since the latter question doesn’t make any sense (the source of a human idea?), I tried to get you to clarify what you think morality is. I still don’t know the answer to that other than your apparent belief that it’s synonymous with your particular religious beliefs – but that is not what the word morality means.

    And Dave is correct; you have still been unable to address the specific behavior I asked you about. I’m not interested in slurs about gay people.

  14. Mark says:

    @ Dave,
    You state Morality, is, after all, an individual sense of right and wrong. No two are identical.

    Then according to your own statement, one’s morality is indeed subjective, no more Truer than another. The morality of one who particaptes in child sacrifices is no more Truer than those who don’t. The fact that you could give a bunch of “god fearing” folk or anyone else for that matter the same question and get different answers does not mean that there is not a True answer, it just means some don’t know the Truth, or the correct answer – Objective Truth is not subjective, it is based on facts, it’s absolute, and universal. You seem to define morality or its Truth value by culture, psychology, race, gender, etc.. When you guys do that, your Truth and morality is whatever you make it to be. Isn’t that what you despise in others who disagree with you?

    You both seem to make Truth a contingent creation of language not a mirror represenation of reality. Niether of you can even live by your own definition. If I put a cup of water and a cup of poision in front of you – which would you drink? Only one will kill you and the other refresh you. That is not subjective – that is an objective Truth.

    You both have divorced morality and reality from Truth – that will indeed blur the way you view this case. It also makes you no more interested in knowing the Truth, than the reality of this child’s disposition.

    Why don’t give your opinion on whether Lisa was right or wrong?

    I did – These two women made a mistake in Vermont – a mistake in which now the State is sadly involved in. That’s why the Truth, independent of human emotion and desires is – Sexual relationships outside of One Man, One Woman in Marriage brings consequences, and a whole hosts of immorality stacked on more immorality.

    btw David – I am not interested in sluring anyone, you pulled that out of your hat, perhaps to divert the conversation away from the Truth – which at this point only I have stated my source for truth and given evidence.

  15. David says:

    I hate to tell you this Mark, but capitalizing the word “truth” does not magically make your viewpoint any more objective or accurate. It’s still just your viewpoint. You’re perfectly entitled to it, of course, but that’s what it is.

    The fact that we can all readily agree that human sacrifice (for some reason you chose the term “child sacrifice,” as if sacrificing adults might be better, but never mind that) is morally wrong demonstrates the speciousness of your supposition.

    I’ll have more to say later.

  16. Dave says:

    Mark, you still haven’t answered the question. You gave an opinion on Lisa and Janet’s relationship, but that’s not the question asked, nor was it the issue before the court. The question is whether the custody contract is valid, and should be enforced, or is invalid, and should not be enforced. We’re still waiting for an opinion on that. Very simple question.

    I did not say that everyone’s morality is no more “right” or “wrong” than anyone else’s. Obviously, as David said, I believe mine to be the most correct. If I didn’t, I would change it. You consider yours correct, or you would change yours. I also do not discount the idea of a True morality. The question I have is not so much whether it exists, but what human (or set of humans) has understood it and interpreted it correctly? In other words, if Truth exists, how do you know what it is?

    Far better people than you have argued the meaning of the Bible and Christian morality for a very long time. So to use the Bible to parse every situation in the modern world and come to absolute conclusions about right and wrong is a fantastic notion. This is especially true given previous opinions of “Truth” that today, even folks like you find ridiculous. Those enslaving blacks or hanging “witches” also thought they knew “Truth”.

    If you do, in fact, Know Truth, then you must be the Second Coming.

  17. Mark says:

    David,
    I appreciate your replies. The reason I capitalize Truth, is simply because it is indeed objective. We agree there is such a thing, and I am pleased to hear you state that.

    @ Dave,
    Write this down, it might help you – Truth is not an opinion. You seem to suffer from some sort of immature understanding that becuase folks do all sorts of things under the banner of truth, that it means Truth does not exist.

    You are correct, I do in fact know the Truth – it has been delivered to us and sealed in the blood of Christ. You know it as well – you just refuse to accept any objective Truth because it forces you to live by a standard you didn’t create.

  18. Dave says:

    Mark, you use more words to say nothing than almost anyone I’ve ever known. You continually repeat yourself, but have still answered no questions. Here is my last summary:
    * Is the breaking of the custody contract by Lisa moral?
    1. Since scholars have debated the specific meanings of Truth for well over 1,000 years, how is that you Know Truth and they don’t (or at least not completely)?
    2. How do you apply Truth to specific modern situations that are not only not called out in the Bible, but, in fact, not even conceived of by the people that actually took pen to paper? In other words, regardless of your answer to #1, what source did you use (it will help to be specific, saying just “the Bible” isn’t much help since it’s so big)?
    4. Do you EVER change your viewpoint of what’s right and wrong in any specific situation? If not, how is your morality more perfect than anyone else’s? If so, how do you know how close to Truth you are?

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