From Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal filed by a woman who lost a high-profile child custody and visitation battle with her former lesbian partner.
The court ruled that Lisa Miller-Jenkins failed to properly file notice of her appeal after the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that Vermont courts have jurisdiction in the dispute.
However, Miller-Jenkins still has a second appeal pending before Virginia's highest court.
"Today's ruling has no effect - none whatsoever - on the merits of the litigation at the Virginia Supreme Court," said Matthew Staver, one of Miller-Jenkins' attorneys.
But Greg Nevins, an attorney for the gay-rights group Lambda Legal, called the ruling "a major milestone in the case."
This is interesting and must raise ultra conservative hackles among the Commonwealth of Virginia’s legal community. Essentially, the two women were joined in civil union in Vermont, had a baby in Virginia and moved to Vermont. The relationship disintegrated and the baby’s mother moved back to Virginia. The partner and second mother to the child then filed for shared custody and visitation rights in Vermont and they were granted. A Virginia court ruled to the contrary but was later overturned twice by the Supreme Court of Virginia and US Supreme Court. So, who was the bigger winner? State’s rights win big in this case, but the recognition of alternative families also wins big with this ruling. In the past, a step-parent (which is essentially what someone is if they are not an actual parent) would only be able to gain custody in extreme circumstances, i.e. the birth parent is a habitual drug-using bestiality fetishist. And the lawyers win, they always win, that’s why they get up on the morning.