Tag Archives: lesbian mom

Lesbian mom sues pastor who helped ex kidnap child

A pastor from Virginia was convicted on Aug. 14 of helping a woman flee the country three years ago, when she was on the brink of having to turn custody of her young daughter over to the woman who was once her partner in a Vermont civil union.

The jury issued its verdict against the Rev. Kenneth Miller after several hours of deliberations in the case, which has drawn broad attention because of the legal and religious questions it raised about same-sex unions and child custody, and because the whereabouts of mother and daughter remain unknown.

Miller, 46, a Mennonite from Stuarts Draft, Va., was charged with aiding in international kidnapping for helping Lisa Miller and her daughter, Isabella, leave the country in September 2009, a month after a judge indicated he would turn custody of the girl over to Janet Jenkins, of Fair Haven, Vt., if she continued to defy a series of visitation orders.

Kenneth and Lisa Miller are not related. Lisa and Isabella, now 10 years old, were last known to be in Nicaragua.

As the jury was deliberating, Jenkins filed a lawsuit against both Millers and other people associated with the case, seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Kenneth Miller showed no emotion as the verdict was read and will remain free pending sentencing, although he was ordered to surrender his passport. After the verdict, his supporters walked out of the Burlington courthouse, lined up across the street and began singing hymns.

“I am willing to accept the consequences of my actions,” said Miller, who could spend three years in prison. “I am at peace with God. I am peace with my conscience and I give it over to God, and at the same time I respect the decision of the court.”

He said an appeal would be up to his attorneys, who left the courthouse shortly after the verdict was read.

Jenkins was not in court at the time, but her attorney said she is pleased that Kenneth Miller was being held accountable.

“She hopes that the verdict will send a message to those who continue to aid and abet Lisa Miller in Nicaragua,” said attorney Sarah Star. “Her greatest hope is that the government’s efforts will lead to Isabella’s safe return to Vermont.”

During three days of testimony, prosecutors used cellphone records and sometimes-reluctant witnesses to lay out a broad network overseen by Kenneth Miller that helped Lisa and Isabella travel first to Canada and then Nicaragua.

Prosecutors said Kenneth Miller arranged for another person to drive the two from Virginia to Buffalo, N.Y., where they crossed into Canada and were picked up by an Ontario Mennonite who took them to an airport. After they arrived in Nicaragua, prosecutors said, the two were cared for by American Mennonites who felt they needed to protect Isabella from what they considered a sinful lesbian lifestyle.

The U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Nicaragua. The country is not a signer of the 1980 Hague convention on international child abductions, which is designed to return children illegally taken from member countries.

Lisa Miller and Jenkins entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000, shortly after the state became the first to legally recognize same-sex relationships. Miller conceived the child through artificial insemination, and both acted as parents.

Lisa Miller later became an evangelical Christian and renounced her homosexuality. A child-custody case went to Vermont family court in 2004, after the couple dissolved the civil union. Lisa Miller, who moved to Lynchburg, Va., was given primary custody of Isabella, with Jenkins given visitation rights.

Lisa Miller appealed the case for years, but ultimately the courts in Virginia and Vermont determined the case would be bound by the Vermont family court order. After defying visitation orders, Miller became a fugitive in 2009 when she disappeared with Isabella.

Charges were dropped in October against an American Mennonite missionary living in Nicaragua, Timothy Miller, who is not related to the other Millers. Prosecutors said he helped Lisa Miller reach Central America; he cooperated in the case against Kenneth Miller.

Timothy Miller said in videotaped testimony that he knew Lisa Miller was fleeing the U.S. because of the custody battle but believed at the time that she had full custody of Isabella. He said he picked the mother and child up when they arrived in Managua and arranged a place for them to live in Nicaragua.

“I did not believe it was a crime I had committed,” said Timothy Miller, who is not related to the other Millers.

In brief but emotional testimony, Jenkins gave an overview of her relationship with Lisa Miller and a history of some of her visits with Isabella between the time the two split up in 2003 and Lisa Miller and the girl left the country Sept. 22, 2009.

Jenkins last saw Isabella in January 2009 and was looking forward to a late September visit.

“I was going to go to Lynchburg and pick my daughter up for the weekend,” said Jenkins, who runs a day-care business. But when she arrived to pick up Isabella, no one was home.

AT&T exec, Boy Scout board member opposes gay scouting ban

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and an executive board member with the Boy Scouts of America, wants the nonprofit to lift its ban against gay members and leaders.

The Dallas Voice reports that Stephenson is joining Ernst & Young CEO James Turley, also a BSA board member, in opposing the controversial policy.

But just today the BSA executive office announced it had concluded a secret two-year review and decided to affirm the ban. A spokesman for the BSA told The Associated Press that an 11-member confidential review board had concluded that the anti-gay policy is the best policy for the scouting organization.

“This is a missed opportunity of colossal proportions,” said Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued.  These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance.”

“The Boy Scouts of America decision to continue to exclude gays from membership is extremely disappointing and sends the message that gay youth are not fit to serve God and country,” said R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans and an eagle scout who served in his youth in Troop 23 in Tallahassee, Fla. “This is absolutely the wrong policy for the Boy Scouts.”

The news of the BSA decision comes as Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom from Bridgeport, Ohio, prepared to deliver petitions challenging the ban to the BSA headquarters in Dallas on July 18.

The BSA ousted Tyrrell as a den leader because of the ban, which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court but opposed by scouts, parents, educators, politicians, executives and legal experts. The anti-gay ban has led a number of public entities to evict or remove the BSA for violating non-discrimination policies.

Tyrrell, after her ouster, launched a petition on Change.org that now has more than 300,000 signatures.

Her petition led Turley to announce his opposition to the ban in June and encouraged Stephenson’s stand this month.

This is a huge new development and could mean that the Boy Scouts are preparing to end this anti-gay policy sooner rather than later,” Tyrrell said through Change.org before the BSA affirmed the ban. “I’m very impressed with Mr. Stephenson’s leadership and his new commitment to helping the Boy Scouts stop discriminating, a position that is totally consistent with AT&T’s record as a champion of fairness and equality in the workplace.”

Tyrrell also has received support from celebrities, including Julianne Moore, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson and Ricky Martin.

Earlier this year, she received an award from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

On the Web: http://www.change.org/petitions/boy-scouts-of-america-reinstate-cub-scout-leader-who-was-removed-for-being-gay

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Romney supported inclusive Boy Scouts

The ouster of a lesbian mom from a Boy Scouts of America post has drawn attention to the record of a former member of the national executive BSA board: Mitt Romney.

In 1994, Romney was running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, and the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay troop leaders and scouts was in the spotlight.

Asked at the time about the policy, Romney said, “I feel that all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

He also said that “the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service for this country. I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue.”

A video of Romney making the comments began re-circulating on the Web this past week, as national attention returned to the ban after an Ohio woman was removed from her post as the leader of a tiger scouts den because she’s gay.

Jennifer Tyrrell was ousted from her position in March 2012 after nearly a year of service, during which her scouts were honored for their commitment to volunteerism and leadership.

“The Boy Scouts are supposed to have a platform of tolerance, acceptance, and support – values that drew my son Cruz to be a scout, and that drew me to want to be a den leader,” said Tyrrell. “Yet by continuing to dismiss gay youth and gay leaders from their organization, the Boy Scouts of America is failing these values, harming families and communities by sending a message that all are not welcome.”

Among service organizations, the Boy Scouts of America is increasingly alone in its policy prohibiting gay youth and leaders. The Girl Scouts of America, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, as well as the 4H Club welcome gay kids and adult leaders.

Tyrrell is protesting her ouster and calling for the BSA to lift its ban in a Change.org campaign that already has about 250,000 signatures.

She said she welcomed Romney’s view and suggested, “President Obama should also let the public know what he thinks about a cultural institution like the Boy Scouts banning gay Americans.”

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