Human Rights

Lesbian Mom Claims Shady Christian Fundamentalists Helped Abduct her Child

How did a happy civil union end in a homophobic kidnapping horror?

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It’s a tale of two mommys, and a lovely little girl who ended up in Nicaragua with one mommy who is wanted by Interpol.

10-year old Isabella Miller-Jenkins appears to have gotten caught up in the turmoil of bitter American culture wars. It all started with a civil union between Lisa A. Miller and Janet Jenkins, who decided to add to their family when the couple opted to have a child through in vitro using a donor egg. According to the New York Times, that union turned sour when Miller was converted to conservative Christianity and renounced her lesbianism. The women separated when Isabella was seventeen months old. TheTimesreports that Ms. Miller tried to prevent Ms. Jenkins from attending court-ordered visits until a Vermont judge threatened to transfer custody. By that time Miller had moved to Virginia and had gotten involved, according to Lisa Neff of the Wisconsin Gazette, with the Thomas Road Baptist Church, the Liberty Christian Academy elementary school and a number of anti-gay activists in Liberty influenced by the late evangelist and anti-gay leader Jerry Farwell Sr.

Enter the Amish Mennonites. Janet Jenkins claims that Miller took their daughter and fled under disguise to Nicaragua with the help of the Christian activists.

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Jenkins filed a lawsuit in August in the U.S. District Court for Vermont, which contains allegations ranging from, money-laundering to kidnapping to mail fraud and well as violations under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. As Lisa Neff explains, “the act, commonly known as RICO, has been used to go after mobsters, motorcycle gangs, business magnates, anti-abortion activists and, most recently, a Texas health care provider.”

In August, a Vermont jury found Amish-Mennonite Kenneth Miller, pastor of the Beachy Amish-Mennonite sect, guilty of abetting an international kidnapping to remove a child from her lesbian parent. The pastor, a hero to many right-wing Christians who have been following the case, may spend three years in prison. In the suit, Jenkins claimed that a network of anti-gay Christians continue to help Miller and shield her in Nicaragua.

Gay activists are closely following the progress of the case as it stands to set precendents on issues of divorce, custody and, unfortunately, the terrible world of international child abduction.

Lynn Parramore is an author and cultural theorist. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.