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How do you spell 'abomination'?

This is how I spell it.

I've been following this case off and on for years, but I had missed the development in which a lesbian ex-partner to a civil union, no relation to the child Isabella whatsoever and with whom Isabella has not lived since she was seventeen months of age, has been awarded sole custody of the seven-year-old child by a Vermont judge. The fairly explicit reason for this grant of custody was to punish Lisa Miller, Isabella's mother--her real mother both biologically and in virtue of having raised her--for having refused to permit additional unsupervised visits with Janet Jenkins, the lesbian ex-lover, after Isabella showed signs of trauma from earlier visits and stated that she had been forced to bathe naked with Jenkins.

This is unconscionable. That the judge should award custody in such a way with such little regard to the child's best interests is beyond crazy. It would be bad enough if this were a real custody case between two parents in which the child had lived with one parent up to seven years of age and were now being arbitrarily handed by the court to the other parent against even the child's own will, simply to punish the present custodial parent. It is even more insane when we consider that Jenkins has no legal relationship to this little girl whatsoever, neither by biology nor even by adoption (and no such adoption should be permitted in any event). Her "parenthood" is entirely an invention of the Vermont court and the Vermont judge, in virtue of a Vermont civil union alone.

Naturally, the gay-rights crowd will whine that this is just like any other custody case, that all custody cases can get messy, and the like. But not only does that ignore the fact that this would be reckless behavior even in a heterosexual custody case, the pretense that this is just like other custody cases arises solely from the pretense that metaphysics can be made up ex nihilo by legal and judicial fiat, that this Jenkins woman can be simply made into Isabella's mother because she had a faux-marriage, a sexual relationship, with Isabella's actual mother at the time that Isabella was born, and that homosexual unions are the equivalent of marriage. Such activists must be fought, tooth and nail. They are trying to destroy our country, and their attempt to remake reality in their own image is an attempt to destroy this little girl for the sake of the arrogance of Ms. Jenkins and her fake "parental rights." Down with them.

May God protect Lisa Miller, who has disappeared with Isabella. And above all, may God protect Isabella.

And by the way, next time somebody mentions civil unions to you as being no big deal, as though the only thing for conservatives to fight is homosexual "marriage," point him to this case. Civil unions are marriage in all but name. And the Vermont judge is playing by that playbook.

HT: Pro-Existence

Comments (111)

"Run, run, run, as fast as you can..."

May God protect Lisa Miller, who has disappeared with Isabella.

She has done the right and honourable thing, and may God protect her in it.

While I have a hard time describing in principle when it's permissible to defy the government, especially as working from a Christian ethic, this seems very clearly to be a case when the mother is right to defy the state.

Lydia, IMO:

1) The country is already destroyed. As MacIntyre says, real politics is now impossible; so
2) Fighting this tooth and nail will just generate fighting, not a better society.

Not even the insanity of Stalin reached these hights, but hey reality is often stranger than fiction:) but never fear for we have the creator behind us and we will not go quietly into the night! We will fight until we can't fight any more and then some.

Like professor Fezer said this consequence No. 235804 of abandoning the works of the 'philosopher'

Her "parenthood" is entirely an invention of the Vermont court and the Vermont judge, in virtue of a Vermont civil union alone.

Exactly. This is what happens when marriage and parenthood are separated from the natural teleology of gendered persons and when the procreation of children shifts from "begotten" to "made," the product of our wills.

The greatest danger in the logic of same-sex marriage is that it places in the premises of our culture the belief that social institutions, including marriage, are mere inventions of our wills and their legitimately maintained exclusively by the state. The idea that marriage is a pre-political institution that the state does not invent was a bullwark against the totalizing state. After all, long after America has vanished from the Earth, my married parents will always be my married parents.

Even assuming for the sake of argument that you were right on the metaphysics, there's a big problem with the rhetoric. Statements of the type "They are trying to destroy our country" are really harmful, besides being inaccurate. I just don't see what purpose this rhetoric serves. What's wrong with the more accurate "They are trying to do something which would destroy our country"? Those four additional words make a world of difference.

To take an analogy - again, accepting your metaphysics as given - if someone's trying to make automobiles seaworthy because he mistakenly believes a car's telos is to travel on all surfaces, or because he doesn't believe a car has a telos, he's not trying to destroy the automotive industry, even if that would be the inevitable result. Instead of saying he was trying to destroy the industry, you might say that he doesn't understand cars (or metaphysics) and that his actions, however well-intentioned they may be, will destroy the industry.

(Cross-reference to: earlier posts on "not guilty by reason of ideology" and on David Frum.)

This is unconscionable

Yes, and it's also what many millions of men have suffered at the hands of the courts in divorce/custody fights.

The child is the **only** party I pity here.

While conservatives were asleep at the wheel, the feminists and courts ushered in the environment that made this possible.

If you want to protect marriage, the entire edifice of the family law system needs to be razed and rebuilt and by that I mean treated like Carthage after the Punic Wars.

Homosexuality is not what enabled any of this, it's the culture of abuse that men have suffered for decades is now finally expanding out to find new, fresher victims.

1) The country is already destroyed. As MacIntyre says, real politics is now impossible; so
2) Fighting this tooth and nail will just generate fighting, not a better society.

Gene, if the country is already destroyed, then it would seem to follow that one must learn not to depend on government to protect that which society ought to protect, and not to follow along with government when it requires doing something immoral or proactively provides for someone else to do something immoral. At the least, such not depending on and not following along with will have the outward form of fighting against the culture.

In reality, although much of the basic substance of the American polis has been destroyed, not all of it has. There is a theoretical possibility to use that modest (and shrinking) portion that is still left to attempt to heal the sick portions of our culture and regenerate what is lost, but only by "fighting" to overcome the necrotic tissues of society. This "fighting" would have to be in the form that can actually do some good, which (at the moment) rarely stands as actual, physical combat, but rather metaphorical combat with words, laws, elections, and judicial decisions.

Nevertheless, if we should either not bother to engage in that cultural battle, or (much more likely) fight it tooth and nail and still lose, we will probably (inevitably, in my estimation) get to a point where actual physical combat is forced upon us, or we simply submit meekly to persecution, torture, and death.

The country is already destroyed but it's like a zombie shuffling along and many of us still haven't noticed the stench or the grasping hands.

Mike T says,

The child is the **only** party I pity here.

Mike T, I'm sorry to hear that. I pity a woman who repented of her sin, loves her daughter, and is experiencing the nightmare of seeing the state try to literally hand her daughter over, forcibly, to the child's terror, en toto to her former lesbian lover. If you pity the child, imagine what Lisa Miller's feelings of horror must be. I think a little imagination would help you, here.

Aaron, you write your posts, and I'll write mine. I consider homosexual activists to be responsible, yes, even without changing their metaphysics, to realize that their attempts to force those metaphysics on the rest of us are arrogant and destructive. To my mind, this is a paradigm case of horribly destructive ideology even to the point of terrorizing a child. Janet Jenkins should be ashamed of herself for putting her own ego and desire to prove a point over the obvious well-being of this child. Even if she considers herself fit to be a mother to the child, she should have recognized long ago that the little girl only knows one person as her mother and would be doing fine with her if Jenkins would only leave her the heck alone. But Jenkins doesn't care. This is utterly blameworthy, and it is typical of the way that many homosexual activists don't care whom or what they hurt so long as they can make their point and force their views on the world. That is trying to destroy. There is no such thing as not guilty by reason of ideology.

One thing I find alarming is that jenkins forced Isabella to bathe naked with her, that alone sounds alarm bells, my parents were never 'in the bath' with me even as a little child and by the time I was five I was expected to do everything including washing my hair by myself. This judge must be a seriously liberal degenerate not to take this factor into account, personanlly I think this guy has forfited the right to take part in any legal proceedings due his actions.

Now I'm sure St Thomas said something about the lawfullness of disobeying an authority which leglislates contary to the law of God.................. do either Profs Feser or Beckwith know the specifics of St Thomas on this sort of issue?

Will no one rid of us this turbulent judge?

"Not even the insanity of Stalin reached these hights (sic)..."

"After all, long after America has vanished from the Earth..."

"Will no one rid of us this turbulent judge?"

While the first two statements provide interesting insights the last one, given the existence of the Roeders and Rudolphs in your midst, might be a little too provocative.

Lydia,

Mike T, I'm sorry to hear that. I pity a woman who repented of her sin, loves her daughter, and is experiencing the nightmare of seeing the state try to literally hand her daughter over, forcibly, to the child's terror, en toto to her former lesbian lover. If you pity the child, imagine what Lisa Miller's feelings of horror must be. I think a little imagination would help you, here.

Every week, hundreds of men go through this, mainly with heterosexual women.

Conservatives barely ever say a peep about that.

But God help us when a **woman** becomes a victim, then we have to rally the troops for a crusade.

You'll excuse me if, while I may concede the point that she deserves prayers of support as a sister in Christ, I find the sudden, fierce outrage on her behalf by "Christian conservatives" to be nothing more than like when Fox News focuses on the 1 pretty white girl who went missing while ignoring the dozens of missing poor minority girls reported that day.

Lydia,

What is wrong with conservatism on marriage can be summed up in the fact that conservatives are terrified that 3%-5% of the population "getting married" will destroy the entire institution of marriage, but are completely passive about the way that marriage has been made legally toxic to the average American man. Then, when those men recognize that they stand to lose half of their wealth, their home, their kids and be on the hook for alimony and child support on a woman's whim (thank you, no fault divorce statutes) and behave like self-centered hedonists, they are told to "man up."

Gay marriage is simply the final nail in the coffin. What Miller experiences is mainstream for many divorced men.

Jack,

In Aquinas's view, a "law" that would require one to act positively contrary to the natural law is not a true law at all and thus has no binding force at all. Indeed, it must be disobeyed. See ST I-II.95.2 and I-II.96.4.

Does that confer a right to disobey laws intended to make the enforcement of the fake law feasible?

For example, if a ruling party were to legislate a new right of Prima Nocta, would it be morally licit to disobey gun control laws so as to be properly armed to defend one's wife against violation?

Speaking of the rule of law, the 1st circuit court of appeals effectively legalized vigilantism by police recently.

Mike T, you'll excuse me I hope for saying that people who appear to have a bee in their bonnets, as I'm afraid you do about the "men and divorce" issue, sort of undermine their own case by dragging their issue into every discussion.

No, hundreds of men divorced from heterosexual marriages don't go through what Lisa Miller is going through unless:

--hundreds of heterosexual men every week have their children taken from them at the age of seven after having been the exclusive child-rearer of said children from the age of 18 months, so that the child *does not know* the other parent and *fears* the other parent and knows only the man *as* his parent. I doubt that this happens as frequently as you seem to be implying. Lisa Miller has raised Isabella, who doesn't know or think of the other woman as her mother at all *and never has*. The child is now seven and is to be wrested away after having spent her whole lifetime being raised exclusively by Miller. The recklessness here for the child's welfare and the trauma to the child is incredible. This isn't just a case of Mommy and Daddy in a custody battle, where the child knows both of them as parents.

or unless

--hundreds of heterosexual men every week have their children taken from them into contexts of sexual perversion, to be raised by someone with sexually perverted inclinations and taught that the perversion is normal, after the child has already alleged weird goings-on with said person with sexually perverted inclinations.

So, yes, this case is different. It's not that I'm not at all concerned about what you are talking about, but you harm your case by exaggeration and by bringing it up and making moral equivalences where they do not exist. Yes, this is an abomination in a special way, and no, it isn't just like all the other child custody cases in the country where one parent gets reamed. And no, I'm not up in arms because the adult getting unjustly treated is a woman.

Oh, and I forgot to add:

This doesn't happen to hundreds of heterosexual men every week unless hundreds of heterosexual men every week are having their children taken away and given to women who are not the children's mothers at all in any sense whatsoever.

Your attempt to make an equivalency here ignores and indeed denies one of the main points of my post, which is that Jenkins is not Isabella's mother. At all. In any way, shape, or form.

Therefore, this cannot be compared to any custody battle, however badly the man gets treated, in which the children are given to their actual mothers.

Lydia, I must jump in to support Aaron's point here. Let us accept (contrary to fact) that you are correct in claiming that:

homosexual activists [are] responsible, yes, even without changing their metaphysics, to realize that their attempts to force those metaphysics on the rest of us are arrogant and destructive.

But this does not entail that these people are "trying to destroy America". For example, it is logically possible that conservative Christians are not trying to destroy America, even if their attempts to force their metaphysics on the rest of us are arrogant and destructive.

While I'm at it...

I was about to whine about how this was messy, like other custody cases... but, at the same time, I also doubt that facts about parenthood can be constituted ex nihilo by legal and judicial fiat. Imagine my surprise in reading the following:

the pretense that this is just like other custody cases arises solely from the pretense that metaphysics can be made up ex nihilo by legal and judicial fiat

Was I being irrational? It has been known to happen (too often)! Perhaps my whining would have been contrary to my metaphysics.

But, then, on closer inspection, I realized that I was being too hasty. The word "just" is important here. It is obvious, I realized, that you are right to suggest this is not just like other custody cases. (For example, unlike a great many custody battles, the potential custodians used to be homosexual lovers. It is, I have no doubt, extremely atypical in this way.)

Instead, it may well be simply sufficiently like them that we have no good reason to hold people who advocate on behalf of homosexuals responsible for the outcome.

Happy New Year!

It's not messy though. That's the problem. Miller is the biological mother, and wants to keep her child. Jenkins has no biological tie at all; she shouldn't even have visitation rights. She has no claim on this child at all.

Lydia,

This doesn't happen to hundreds of heterosexual men every week unless hundreds of heterosexual men every week are having their children taken away and given to women who are not the children's mothers at all in any sense whatsoever.

Your attempt to make an equivalency here ignores and indeed denies one of the main points of my post, which is that Jenkins is not Isabella's mother. At all. In any way, shape, or form.

Family law courts routinely hand over custody of children to mothers who engage in immoral lifestyles, including lifestyles where actual serious physical and sexual abuse happens against the child or is likely to happen.

The fact that Jenkins CAN have custody of the child is the natural conclusion of a system that routinely stomps on the rights of divorced men and that embraces the fiction of gay marriage.

Precisely where are Isabella's father's custody rights in all of this?

Therefore, this cannot be compared to any custody battle, however badly the man gets treated, in which the children are given to their actual mothers.

As I pointed out, the apparatus for abuse of Miller wasn't even possible until the rule of law was so voided in the name of feminist advances against perceived male privilege that courts could do something like this.

You act shocked that this is possible. It doesn't surprise me **at all**.

If I seem to have a bee in my bonnet, it's because I perceive the usual conservative response to be in effect: get outraged about the latest manifestation, but ignore the root cause that made it possible.

It's not messy though. That's the problem. Miller is the biological mother, and wants to keep her child. Jenkins has no biological tie at all; she shouldn't even have visitation rights. She has no claim on this child at all.

You speak as though reason and morality are persuasive to gay rights activists and family law courts.

Family law courts routinely hand over custody of children to mothers who engage in immoral lifestyles, including lifestyles where actual serious physical and sexual abuse happens against the child or is likely to happen.

I can believe that this is true, Mike T, though I doubt that even so this particular thing happens to "hundreds of men every week," especially if we have pretty high standards for the claim that such abuse is "likely to happen." Be that as it may, your statement here was in response to what I said about the fact that Jenkins is not Isabella's mother at all. Your response above is not relevant to that point, and I do not think your answer in attempted defense of your exaggerated claim that this very thing happens to hundreds of men every week is a very good answer. You just shifted the subject to the "root causes" that "make possible" the Vermont court's crazy ruling. That's a change of subject to a much vaguer claim from the claim that the very thing that is happening to Lisa Miller happens to hundreds of men every week.

Alex, Matt Weber makes my point very well: This case isn't messy. Jenkins shouldn't have so much as a look-in in Isabella's life. Nada. Nothing. She has nothing to offer her and no legal rights in her except those that the Vermont judge is making up out of his hat, and clearly is making up solely because of the previous existence of the lesbian civil union. The only way that you could think that this case is a "messy custody case" is if you think that the lesbian civil union, a pure creation of the positive law without the slightest foundation in metaphysical or moral reality, has some sort of relevance to the granting of parent-like custody rights. In other words, that such a legal fiction can create *some degree of* parental rights or other. Otherwise, you wouldn't think of the case as messy.

Let me put this more strongly: Suppose that Janet Jenkins had simply been a very close friend of the family, had never had a lesbian relationship with Miller, but had been a sort of "extra mentor" to Isabella. In other words, suppose that she really had had a relationship with Isabella--contrary to fact. And suppose that there was nothing immoral about it. And suppose that Lisa Miller were a vegan and got all tied up in knots about the fact that Jenkins eats meat. (You see, I'm trying to make this a really hard case for my side.) Suppose she got worried that this family friend would influence Isabella toward meat-eating, and she cut off all contact with her. Guess what? Jenkins shouldn't have a leg to stand on in court for custody. Nothing at all. Even if Miller were being that unreasonable, even if Jenkins were that innocent, and even if Isabella, age seven, were rather sad at not being able to have Aunt Janet over for dinner anymore. This is a seven-year-old child, and a completely unrelated individual should not have legal recourse in the court to force visitation and/or custody rights, a fortiori not _unsupervised_ visitation or custody rights, with this little child against the wishes of her mother. That's it. It shouldn't be a custody battle at all. Jenkins should be treated no differently from any other unrelated person who used to be close to Isabella's mother and with whom Isabella's mother has now severed all ties.

"Jenkins has no biological tie at all; she shouldn't even have visitation rights. She has no claim on this child at all."

I would point out that this child wouldn't exist save for the relationship with Jenkins, whose role she was happy to acknowledge and whose support she was happy to accept. According to the Newsweek article Miller was agreeable to Jenkins adopting the child and she entered into formal legal agreements. As Mike has pointed out and as reading any police blotter will affirm, parenthood is too often akin to jumping out of a tall building - one is still committed even if one changes ones mind half way down.

She was agreeable to adoption. Key word emphasized. She is not now, nor did any adoption ever take place. So it sounds like Jenkins has no claim on the child at all.

I wonder if the courts ever give custody of children to people who are neither biologically nor legally their parents (excluding cases of homosexual unions)...

I wonder, that is, whether the court might have a rationale for granting/recognizing parent-like rights to what might be stipulated to be non-parents. In some such cases, there is no one who plays a parent-like role in the child's life; and the courts are making the best of a bad situation. Presumably, however, in other cases, the non-parent who is granted parent-like rights (or whose parent-like rights are recognized) plays a parent-like role in the life of the child.

In fact, I can think of cases where it would make sense for the courts to do this. Here is a real life anecdote (insofar as I remember it): A woman foolishly married a man who turned out to be a scoundrel. He abandoned her, while she was pregnant. She gave birth to a child -- his child, her child. When the child was 2, the woman married another man. They neglected to have the new man adopt the child. This was unfortunate because the woman died when the child was 5. At this point, the biological father returned -- having mostly forsaken his scoundrel-y ways -- demanding custody of the child (who at this point was 8). And yet the court gave custody to the person who was neither legally nor biologically the child's father. I presume the court decided that, though the second husband was neither legally nor biologically a parent of the child, he played a sufficiently parent-like role -- whereas the biological father did not play a sufficiently parent-like role. [The court didn't make that up.]

[Perhaps you think that the description "second husband" cannot truly apply prior to the death of the first husband... fine... good for my point, even. That such a person might be thought to perform a parent-like role wouldn't, then, depend on his having been really married to the mother.]

Now the question is this: could a parent-like role be played by the gay lover of a person who is properly agreed to be a parent -- even stipulating that the lover is not really a parent? If so, one might agree that the courts could reasonably give custody to someone who is stipulated to be neither really a parent nor really ever once married to the parent. If so, one could allow for such decisions in the absence of thinking that the courts have the magical power to effect unions that God will not. (Obviously, I think the answer to the question that opened this paragraph is 'yes'. ...Modus Ponens.)

Perhaps the case targeted in your post would be such a case. Perhaps not. I have no idea. But it could have been decided on the kinds of grounds that are available in good old-fashioned, gay-free custody battles -- grounds, btw, that are insufficient to allow judges to clean up the messes people make of their lives and children.

At this point, the biological father returned -- having mostly forsaken his scoundrel-y ways -- demanding custody of the child (who at this point was 8).

er... typo... sigh... should read:

The biological father returned -- having mostly forsaken his scoundrel-y ways -- demanding custody of the child (who at this point was 8).
she entered into formal legal agreements.

Which ones? (The report I read stated that she actually checked inconsistent boxes at the time of the break-up of the civil union, having received no legal advice and having been told "just to check all the boxes" by a court clerk. Obviously, if she made inconsistent paper "agreements," these can be spun any way one wants.) In any event, since there was no adoption of the child, then regardless of some purported "willingness" to it on Lisa Miller's part many years ago, never acted on and since decisively repented, there is no formal legal custodial connection between the other woman and the child.

Alex, presumably the court made that decision in the highly unusual case of the mother and the non-biological father because the non-biological father had actually co-raised the child, and it would be more traumatic to the child to be given to someone he didn't know who had merely reappeared after all this time than to continue to be raised by the person (one of two people) who had been raising him for years and to whom he was emotionally bonded.

Obviously, that is an extremely poor comparison in the case described in the post, as the person trying to claim custody in the lesbian case has not been living in the same household with the child since the child was 17 months of age. Indeed, she has not seen the child except for a few visits which visits upset the child so much that the mother discontinued them. So, even if one were to say (which I would be reluctant to say myself) that a person is "parent-like" if that person has raised the child, Janet Jenkins has no such claim whatsoever. She has not raised this child; she has not co-raised this child. This child does not think of her as a parent figure and cannot remember ever having done so in her life. The point about not taking a child from the person to whom he is bonded goes decisively in the opposite direction, as not only is Lisa Miller Isabella's biological mother, she is also the only person Isabella thinks of as her mother, the person who has raised Isabella, and the only person Isabella wants to live with.

The only way that you could think that this case is a "messy custody case" is if you think that the lesbian civil union, a pure creation of the positive law without the slightest foundation in metaphysical or moral reality, has some sort of relevance to the granting of parent-like custody rights.

Like it or not, judges, like Lisa Miller, are--and ought to be--bound by positive law (and given the Vermont Supreme Court's rulings in this area, I don't think that Judge Cohen's interpretation was utterly beyond the pale). And unless Jenkins's behavior is actually dangerous (and because of the nature of this sort of case, I do not assume the accuracy of Miller's claims about Jenkins), I cannot sanction Miller's defiance of the court order.

"Will no one rid of us this turbulent judge?"

While the first two statements provide interesting insights the last one, given the existence of the Roeders and Rudolphs in your midst, might be a little too provocative.

Ach, perhaps a little impeachment, or voter uprising, or God smiting him? Of course no one here would advocate a killing, we're civilized.

Perseus, I have no reason to believe that the judge took any serious account of the child's allegations. Furthermore, I don't know which court order you're referring to, but the judge ordered _full custody_ to Jenkins because Miller defied earlier orders for unsupervised visitation. That sort of punitive use of full custody, very traumatizing to the child, seems to me incredibly reckless. My understanding is that in family law judges make custody decisions based in no small measure on the best interests of the child and are given fairly wide latitude in determining it. It is beyond the pale to believe that it is *in the best interests of the child* to be taken from the only mother she ever knew and given, given fully, with full custody, apparently permanently, for the rest of her childhood, to a woman she does not think of as her mother and does not wish to have anything to do with. To do that because the mother won't "share" the child per the judge's visitation orders is to visit the alleged legal "sins" of the mother upon the child with a vengeance. It would take a lot for me to believe that any judge is required to make that sort of specific move by positive law. And if he were, he should quit before making such an order. Even earlier in the process, he could have ordered supervised visitation between the child and a woman who is, to the child, a frightening stranger, if he felt it so important that this stranger woman have contact and a relationship with the child. But he has been insistent throughout on unsupervised visitation and on having his orders for it fulfilled, and the current traumatizing (to the child) custody order is a result of his refusal to let those earlier orders be defied by Miller with impunity. That's outrageous.

And, yes, I believe that Jenkins is dangerous in a number of ways to the child, including psychologically and morally dangerous, over and above even the allegation regarding the child's being forced to bathe with her naked.

And, yes, it is not only legitimate but morally incumbent upon a parent to take such severe psychological and moral danger into account in making decisions about one's child. If you are saying that Miller should simply have turned her daughter over to full custody by Jenkins simply because the judge ordered it, then I dissent.

Perseus, suppose that a real law, written and passed by a legislature, were to go into effect which explicitly stated that a lottery was to be held with the names of the children of heterosexual couples. To foster "diversity," these children were then, according to the explicit law, to be taken from their parents and their full custody bestowed upon homosexual couples and individuals entirely unrelated to them. Let us suppose that the law stipulated that such individuals and couples were to be pre-screened by the state to make sure that they were, in the view of the state, not dangerous to the children.

Your child is chosen in such a lottery, and a court orders you to hand him over. Would you comply with such an order?

I wouldn't even comply with such an order _without_ the homosexuality angle, much less with it.

Had Miller at least partially complied with the visitation orders (which she apparently did on a single occasion in 2004), Judge Cohen probably would not have taken such a drastic step, which, by the way, includes visitation rights for Miller (and which might possibly be revisited later if Miller actually obeys the court order). There is little question in my mind that Miller committed legal sins and because of them put the judge in a difficult position, who had to balance the bests interests of the child (who developed a close relationship only with Miller primarily because Miller refused visitation) with the legal rights of Jenkins (even if I think that the Vermont Supreme Court was wrong to pave the way for their creation). Acquiescing to Miller's contempt of the court order not only means the effectual negation of the legal rights of Jenkins but it also encourages parents in custody battles to behave like Miller (and yes, I think that is a legitimate long-term 'utilitarian' calculation).

As for claims of danger, we have Miller's allegations and a report by Virginia's Child Protective Services which deemed them "unfounded." So I just don't have much definitive evidence to go on.

Btw, for those interested, here's a longer background story on the case (which includes some details on the legal maneuvering):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/30/AR2007013001316.html?sid=ST2010010101465

"after Isabella showed signs of trauma from earlier visits and stated that she had been forced to bathe naked with Jenkins."


I'd bet a dad would lose custody after something like that......

This is tough-stuff, iddn't it?
Jenkins isn't a biological parent, and if she is not on the hook for any child support, due to the very short amount of time these two were married, I dont see why she is insisting on seeing this child................wait a minute, yes I do, the kid is a personal badge for her. That kid, Isabella, allows Jenkins to say, "look at me world, I matter, Im a parent". If Jenkins wants a kid, she can pay to be inseminated or (horror of horrors) get married to a man and give birth to one herself. She can even adopt. She was only "in a marriage" for a short period of time while Isabella was a baby. That isn't enough time to bond and consider oneself a parent with a child that isn't biologically theirs. This is almost like a man marrying a woman who has a 10 year old-child from another marriage, getting divorced from her in 2 years, and demanding to be able to see -her- now-12 year old kid.

Some of these commenters do indeed have a point. Men who really are biological dads face "takeaways" like this of their children all the time. Mom gets divorced and then moves hundreds of miles away, dad still has to pay child support in whichever state she filed in, etc. Dad really doesn't get to see his kids that he fathered and paid for (and their grandparents really get frozen out). Kids grow up fatherless while mom chases men. The laws really do need to be changed.

Re: "they are trying to destroy our country"

I don't have a problem with this kind of rhetoric.

It's inaccurate mainly because homosexual activists wouldn't be getting anywhere unless they were useful to other establishment activists and powerbrokers.

Be that as it may, your statement here was in response to what I said about the fact that Jenkins is not Isabella's mother at all. Your response above is not relevant to that point, and I do not think your answer in attempted defense of your exaggerated claim that this very thing happens to hundreds of men every week is a very good answer. You just shifted the subject to the "root causes" that "make possible" the Vermont court's crazy ruling. That's a change of subject to a much vaguer claim from the claim that the very thing that is happening to Lisa Miller happens to hundreds of men every week.

I was not saying that men lose their kids routinely to people they aren't related to, but that this sort of custody abuse where the judge simply negates all reason and the actual interests of the child is a common thing. This sort of thing is simply not that outrageous when you consider the fact that judges often have no qualms about putting children in the hands of a woman who is divorcing her husband to go slut it up with strange men (and studies have shown that this sort of arrangement often ends up resulting severe physical and/or sexual abuse). I happen to know men who still had to actually **fight** to get their kids back after they could prove that their child was being savagely assaulted on a regular basis by the trailer trash with whom their ex was shacking up.

You act shocked that this outrage happened. Why is that shocking? Do you seriously believe that this is outside of the character of the sort of people who run this system? These people seriously believe that ending a marriage, even a mediocre one, in a no fault divorce is consistent with the best interests of the children in some way. Their interest in the actual good of the children is specious at best.

Perseus,

Very interesting. It would appear that Miller is in a logical bind there. If we take the argument at face value that gay marriages should confer the same rights on "gay spouses" as heterosexual (real) marriages do, then the only choice the court would have in declaring Jenkins' "parental rights" null and void would be to declare that men who participate in the in vitro fertilization of their spouse or who adopt have no custodial claims on the child.

<sarcasm>I love it</sarcasm>. The devil wins either way. Either the child ends up in the hands of an unrepentant homosexual, or tens of thousands of men can be summarily dropped as their kids' father.

In light of that, I will partly concede Lydia's point about the root cause here, but simply maintain that conservatives cannot ignore the fact that judges often award custody to mothers who don't deserve it (for many reasons) and that culture is a big part of this picture in its own right.

Perseus, you didn't answer my question. I don't really care tuppence that Lisa could, perhaps, have cooperated in the fiction that Janet is Isabella's "parent" and that such cooperation _might_ have resulted in Isabella's getting over her fears and becoming more easy with Janet. It doesn't matter. The parental "right" in question is invented and unjust. You haven't answered my question: Suppose that there were a lottery and that your child were assigned arbitrarily to spend weekends with a homosexual couple, on threat of your losing total custody and having the child simply handed over to that selected couple. Would you be morally obligated to comply with those orders?

Nothing in the story you sent the link to, which I had read several years ago, changes any of this. In fact, nothing in it shows that Cohen was legally obligated to order _unsupervised visitation_, spending whole days and nights with Jenkins. Heck, judges aren't obligated to order that even when there really was a marriage between a man and a woman.

The problem here is, Perseus, that you seem to have trouble conceiving of a case where one could have a legitimate case morally for defying a court order.

I ask you again, would you turn your child over to someone else simply because the law had created a "right" for that person to have your child? Would you be obligated to do so?

And by the way: The fact that _you_ don't think you have enough evidence for the claims of endangerment doesn't mean that _Miller_ does not have legitimate grounds for believing a) that her child was forced to bathe naked with Jenkins and b) that this is sufficient grounds for not leaving her child alone with Jenkins. Beyond this, you do not acknowledge the emotional and psychological endangerment involved in a child's being treated all her life as having a lesbian "parent" and living with that so-called "parent." You treat that as a mere nothing. I don't.

But even though you do, I think it's totally crazy to say that the law can just _bestow_ your child on some other person unrelated to that child, when you have done nothing to lose custody, and the only reason you could be not morally obligated to comply would be if the person were a physical danger to the child. What a wussy view of parental rights, if you'll pardon the expression. What a creature of the state that makes each and every parent!

Mike T, once again, you're showing your monomania. Ending the relationship in this case _was_ in the best interests of the child. This wasn't a marriage! No-fault divorce is completely irrelevant to this case or, if anything, turned out to be somewhat of a good thing for the right side. Thank goodness it wasn't _harder_ for Miller to get away from Jenkins. Your claim that _somehow_ the mistreatment of Miller and Isabella in this case flows from similar mistreatment of men in divorces. I don't think so. _If anything_ it is Jenkins who has the "male" role in this case. It is she who is claiming that her "wife" took the child and "moved hundreds of miles away to another state." As far as I can tell, she was granted unsupervised visitation but not full half-time custody--fully shared custody--originally by the judge--similar to a father's having his child spend weekends with him. _If anything_ a stronger presumption against shared custody and overnight visitation, a stronger presumption that a child should just stay with its mother and not be confused by living weeks with one person and weekends with another, in the background of family law would have protected Lisa Miller and Isabella better in this situation. Yet that sort of presumption would have created _more_ cases of the sort you deplore with fathers. You just have a one-sided view of everything.

Oh, and what the dickens was that upthread about Isabella's biological father's "rights"? What are you talking about? Her biological father was an _anonymous sperm donor_. He has no rights that are being violated! He, whoever he is, wanted nothing to do with the children generated by the sperm he sold. No one forced him to be an anonymous sperm donor! That you would even bring him up shows that you have a "thing" about men in all family law cases, even where it makes no sense to try to find a male victim.

If she's fled, I hope she reaches a non-extradition treaty country.

Oh, and what the dickens was that upthread about Isabella's biological father's "rights"? What are you talking about? Her biological father was an _anonymous sperm donor_.

That wasn't established in either story in your post. In fact, the word "donor" doesn't even appear in this thread until you just mentioned it.

He has no rights that are being violated!

I agree, but if you're reasonable about it, you'll see that in that light I had a good reason to wonder why the court might not have awarded custody to the father.

He, whoever he is, wanted nothing to do with the children generated by the sperm he sold. No one forced him to be an anonymous sperm donor! That you would even bring him up shows that you have a "thing" about men in all family law cases, even where it makes no sense to try to find a male victim.

I merely happen to have a low regard for the family law courts. I increasingly have the habit (annoying to certain groups) of giving black men with minimal to no criminal background (especially the latter) the benefit of the doubt when they claim abuse by the police and there is any corroborating evidence suggesting the same.

BTW, the case of Mary Winkler is an excellent example of why this shouldn't surprise you. The daughter was **terrified** of her mother because her mother murdered her father in his sleep, and even testified against her own mother during the murder trial as I recall.

*smirks* Guess who got custody of said legitimately terrified child?..

Having degenerated to the point that failed ambulance chasers & unsuccessful political hacks, the ones who sit in the back of those famed smokey rooms, are in fact our latter day Solomon's, we may be disgusted but not surprised.
Lydia's point about the judge seemingly acting out of an arbitrary petulance, my word, captures the now unrestrained power and logical corruption that we have come to. A place where morals are rewritten by those who have none, and are untouchable.

Plus it's Vermont, where child molesters & rapists receive sentences once reserved for drunken drivers. Then again, Vermont may be a bellweather state for the rest of the U.S.

I think there is a very important problem in our judicial system reflected in one of Perseus' comments to the effect that the judge felt like he had to punish Lisa Miller with loss of custody for defying his court orders because of the purely formal point that people must be punished for defying court orders (any court orders) to avoid encouraging other people to defy court orders.

It seems to me that the problem here is the way that the judicial system takes on a life of its own and that a purely _empty_ concept of the "rule of law" takes precedence over the _content_ of the court orders, thus virtually guaranteeing that a judge does not rethink his court orders when it comes to doing something truly draconian, something, even, that harms a child or other innocent, in the purely abstract name of "teaching people to respect court orders." Since it is his own court order, he has the _option_ to rethink it or rescind it. Indeed, this sort of situation is precisely the sort of situation in which the judge is _not_ just some kind of robot but rather is supposed to decide prudentially what is best. That's how this area of law has been set up. When a judge makes his own past court orders immutable simply because they _were_ court orders, he makes it impossible (and unnecessarily so) for himself to repent, rethink, back down, no matter how bad the order might have been in the first place. We have seen something similar at work in the T-S case (no name here for fear of attracting Google-enabled trolls).

The important thing to notice is that Perseus' principle seems to make a _virtue_ of this sort of pure, contentless stubbornness on the part of the judge. So the judge makes an order, and then when faced with the question, "Are you really going to send sheriff's men (or whatever) to tear this child away from her mother to enforce this order and to punish her for defying your other orders?" answers, "Well, I have to, because I have to make sure people respect me and my orders." There's a real problem there.

To make a rather trivial (and slightly disgusting) analogy, a parent faced with the fact that his child literally throws up when forced to eat Brussels sprouts may have to retrench, much as he hates to back down in the Brussels sprouts battle. Forcing the child to eat the vomit to teach him that he "can't get away with" not eating Brussels sprouts shouldn't be an option.

It seems to me that the problem here is the way that the judicial system takes on a life of its own and that a purely _empty_ concept of the "rule of law" takes precedence over the _content_ of the court orders, thus virtually guaranteeing that a judge does not rethink his court orders when it comes to doing something truly draconian, something, even, that harms a child or other innocent, in the purely abstract name of "teaching people to respect court orders."

There is a reason why police are called law enforcement officers, not peace officers, today. Since the police are the most public face of the legal system, that should be the first serious warning sign about how the system feels about its relationship with the public.

To make a rather trivial (and slightly disgusting) analogy, a parent faced with the fact that his child literally throws up when forced to eat Brussels sprouts may have to retrench, much as he hates to back down in the Brussels sprouts battle. Forcing the child to eat the vomit to teach him that he "can't get away with" not eating Brussels sprouts shouldn't be an option.

You realize this compares Lisa Miller to a recalcitrant child. A child who deserves a less extreme punishment.

Step2, that's the way Perseus clearly looks at her. Clearly it's how the judge regards her. My technique then is to see what would follow even if one granted that for the sake of the argument. Perseus implied that the poor doggoned judge was in a "difficult position" because of what Perseus (picking up on a word I had put in scare quotes and applying it seriously) called her sins in not obeying the earlier court orders. I'm pointing out the abuses that result when one considers "respect for authority" in the abstract to be of near-ultimate importance.

And FWIW, _if_ one thinks (which I don't) that Lisa Miller deserves punishments, I believe she has already been rather heavily fined.

Do you know if she has been paying those fines?

No, I haven't looked that up in detail. But I did see a place where the topic of the fines seemed to be in the air, and she said, "God has provided" (during the time that she was defying the court orders). I took that to imply that at least some of the money had been recovered from her. I also saw a reference in a different story to Jenkins's having (what's the word?) had her vehicle (van, I think it was) seized or possessed or something. I don't know if this was in connection with the fines or in connection with division of property following the breakup.

Of course, I don't think she should have been fined in the first place, because I think the judge should have either dropped the whole thing at the outset or else, at most, if he felt it important worked out a compromise involving supervised visitation (not overnight) with Jenkins.

"To make a rather trivial (and slightly disgusting) analogy, a parent faced with the fact that his child literally throws up when forced to eat Brussels sprouts may have to retrench, much as he hates to back down in the Brussels sprouts battle. Forcing the child to eat the vomit to teach him that he "can't get away with" not eating Brussels sprouts shouldn't be an option."

The parent should be made to retrench and learn to cook. Cole crops and asparagus are supposed to be a pleasing green and crunchy when properly cooked, not slimy and some disgusting shade of gray.

I got to the interview with Miller and at this point all we can assume is that someone is lying (golly, folks in a custody dispute lying their heads off, how unusual).

If Miller is telling the truth then Jenkins had little or no role in her decision to become pregnant. If Jenkins is telling the truth, the prime reason for her forming a relationship with Miller was her willingness to bear a child.

Let us strip away the emotional, ideological, and religious fol de rol for a moment and look at this objectively.

Miller's situation appears to be this: She comes from an abusive family situation complicated with serious mental illness. She marries an abusive lush who involves her in drugs and alcohol, seriously attempts suicide and winds up in hospital and a psych ward. She goes into therapy and AA, comes to believe she is a lesbian, gets divorced goes into a relationship with a woman with whom she feels no physical attraction and, to cap things off, decides getting pregnant would be a good idea. Bear in mind that given her physical condition and relationship status, getting pregnant involves some effort. She then leaves the relationship, gets religion, and manages to escalate (with the advice of others, a common theme in her life, it seems) a simple matter into drama and felony.

Given Miller's history, I see no reason to assume that her present situation with Liberty et al isn't as dysfunctional as the rest of her life has been. As for Jenkins, she left a long term relationship over her need to be a parent which seems to be extremely bad judgment to say the least and why would a person with the sense God gave a grasshopper seek to form a parenting relationship with someone with Miller's history.

That either one of these loons have become the poster children for their respective sides is a joke. I really feel sorry for the kid - she never had a chance.


Hopefully, you'll forgive me for going a little bit off-topic.

After observing the back and forth of Mike T and Lydia, the thought comes to me that both of you might be missing a larger point. I'm not sure you'll agree with me here since I think opinion will fall along the lines of the Catholic/Protestant divide.

The problem is divorce. Period. Lydia mentions there has been a metaphysical shift in the definition of marriage. I agree, but it's not just a recent event. Allowing divorce changed the definition of marriage.

According to natural law, I believe the proper definition of marriage is a life-long union of between a man and a women.

I'm willing to grant that separation may be necessary, in cases such as an abusive spouse, for the safety and well being of the other spouse and children. If you wanted to call that "divorce," I wouldn't quibble over a name. What I would object to is the idea of divorce and re-marriage which would directly contradict the "life-long" part of the definition of above.

As a buffer against one possible point being brought up, I'll simply point out without explanation that annulments are not a Catholic version of divorce.

Al, even if every word you say were true, it wouldn't make the slightest difference to my position on the subject, which is that the judge's latest custody order is totally outrageous and wrong and that Miller is right to defy it.

Bob, I don't _think_ that's going to influence the difference of emphasis between me and Mike T, because Mike T and I appear to both be Protestants (my guess about him) and have more or less agreed in another thread about divorce and remarriage. We're both kind of unusual Protestants on that subject (my perception), though I know I don't entirely accept the Catholic view, and from one of his comments, I don't think he does either. But we both seem much more inclined than most Protestants to think that a remarriage can be literally adulterous because the former marriage is still valid. That, at least, is my impression from an earlier exchange with him on the subject of divorce.

Lydia:

I suppose I should draw it out more. But I'm happy to hear that we're (almost) on the same page on marriage.

It seems to me that to be muddle-headed on a fundamental principle (such as on marriage and divorce) is likely to produce wrong-headed opinions from justices in family law courts who practice mostly with "divorce" firmly embedded in their minds. It's a partial insanity. But somehow it is expected that these justices apply common sense in an insane system. The human mind is a marvelous thing, and it does seem to be able to compensate in insane situations, but I think that requires extraordinary effort, not ordinary effort. I wouldn't expect "rising to the occasion" on every day on a day-to-day basis.

I'm not looking to highlight the difference between you and Mike T, but that really, you're both looking at the same problem; you're both looking at the same elephant, but from different ends. To shift the analogy, Mike T sees the disease of the redefinition of marriage as it unfairly impacts men, while you're seeing the same disease at an advanced stage. To shift the analogy one more time, the difference between you two is the apparent threshold of pain at which you both initially started screaming (this may unfairly bias to Mike's expressed point of view).

I'm not sure if I expressed that well enough, but that's the best I can do for the moment.

Lydia wrote:

the little girl only knows one person as her mother...

and

It is beyond the pale to believe that it is *in the best interests of the child* to be taken from the only mother she ever knew...

Whose fault is it that Miller is the only mother the child has ever known? Is it:

(a) The Judge who ordered the child to have visitation with Jenkins?
(b) Jenkins, who desperately wants contact with the child?
or (c) Miller, who has continuously defied court-ordered visitation?

If your answer is (c), why should 'Miller is the only mother the child has ever known' be a checkmark in Miller's column when deciding custody issues?

Homosexuality aside, wouldn't having such a rule encourage all parents to deny the other parent court-ordered visitation?

The important thing to notice is that Perseus' principle seems to make a _virtue_ of this sort of pure, contentless stubbornness on the part of the judge. So the judge makes an order, and then when faced with the question, "Are you really going to send sheriff's men (or whatever) to tear this child away from her mother to enforce this order and to punish her for defying your other orders?" answers, "Well, I have to, because I have to make sure people respect me and my orders." There's a real problem there.

Suppose that there were a lottery and that your child were assigned arbitrarily to spend weekends with a homosexual couple, on threat of your losing total custody and having the child simply handed over to that selected couple. Would you be morally obligated to comply with those orders?

As a political scientist, I'm generally critical of moral philosophers and theologians because they tend to be too willing to denigrate the dictates of law and the political order in the name of morality and conscience. A more extreme actual historical example would be slavery in the U.S., where a conventional right was also created out of thin air. Would, say, a judge (prior to the Civil War) be required to enforce the original Constitution's fugitive slave clause and would citizens be required to obey that order? My answer is yes, no matter how odious I might find it.

Your [Mike T's] claim that _somehow_ the mistreatment of Miller and Isabella in this case flows from similar mistreatment of men in divorces. I don't think so. _If anything_ it is Jenkins who has the "male" role in this case.

That's precisely what I was thinking of in this case, and it's why I raised the issue that allowing Miller to defy the court order would tend to encourage parents (especially mothers--forgive me if I show male bias here) to refuse to allow visitation.

Bob,

After observing the back and forth of Mike T and Lydia, the thought comes to me that both of you might be missing a larger point. I'm not sure you'll agree with me here since I think opinion will fall along the lines of the Catholic/Protestant divide.

The problem is divorce.

I don't think that's the right divide. Rather, it's the divide between liberal and conservative. Most of the conservative Protestants I know think that it's sinful to even attend the wedding ceremony of a remarriage that isn't consistent with biblical morality. I would imagine that most orthodox Catholics would feel the same way.

Divorce is probably the root cause, but we cannot get to there until we acknowledge that divorce is highly profitable for most divorcing women and a whole industry of professionals. Since men tend to earn more money and women tend to get custody, divorce is not only not painful to most divorcing women in the long run, but often results in them getting a significant amount of assets they didn't earn themselves, their kids, a new, more exciting lover and support from their ex-husband for the foreseeable future (alimony and child support payments, which often go beyond the cost of actually raising a child).

I think it will be a serious fight to actually cut our way through those defending easy divorce to get to the root of the issue. My anger with many conservatives comes from the fact that I see them as largely dismissive of injustices done to men in this regard, and then they turn around and shriek at men for not "manning up" and getting married. That's like getting upset at black apathy toward a voting drive and politics in the Jim Crow South.

Your [Mike T's] claim that _somehow_ the mistreatment of Miller and Isabella in this case flows from similar mistreatment of men in divorces. I don't think so. _If anything_ it is Jenkins who has the "male" role in this case.

That's precisely what I was thinking of in this case, and it's why I raised the issue that allowing Miller to defy the court order would tend to encourage parents (especially mothers--forgive me if I show male bias here) to refuse to allow visitation.

I would have thought you guys would have been able to grok that the injustice I was referring to was the way that the judge cheerfully disregarded any consideration of the child's interest in awarding custody to an ex-spouse who had no business having custody.

And, as it currently stands, Perseus' point about mothers refusing visitation is a moot point since such "deadbeat mothers" are virtually never slapped with contempt of court charges, whereas there is a whole cottage industry that helps hunt down men who miss even one child support payment.

Perseus, you are still refusing to answer my given hypothetical, but your position regarding cooperation in sending slaves back to their masters gives me an inkling of what you would say. I'd still like to see you forced actually to say, "Yep. I'd turn my children over to random strangers, even random homosexual strangers selected by a court, if the positive law said I had to do so."

James says,

Whose fault is it that Miller is the only mother the child has ever known? Is it:

(a) The Judge who ordered the child to have visitation with Jenkins?
(b) Jenkins, who desperately wants contact with the child?
or (c) Miller, who has continuously defied court-ordered visitation?

If your answer is (c), why should 'Miller is the only mother the child has ever known' be a checkmark in Miller's column when deciding custody issues?

I answer:

1) It is not Miller's "fault" that she is the only mother Isabella has ever known, because Jenkins is not Isabella's mother. Therefore, for Miller to cooperate in the fiction that Jenkins is Isabella's mother is for her to cooperate in a lie, and a rather important lie. Even if Miller had cooperated in the visitation orders, she would have been continually telling Isabella that Jenkins is not her mother and that they are being forced to do this, which would hardly have encouraged "bonding" with Jenkins. And she would have been right to do so. It's wrong to lie to children about important metaphysical (not to mention, ultimately, sexual) issues.

2) It is only in part because of Miller's actions that Isabella does not have some greater familiarity with Jenkins, aside from the question of "knowing her as her mother," which no one should be cooperating with. But practically speaking, the judge could have ordered supervised visitation, not overnight, and that would have given Isabella a chance to get to know Jenkins, if the judge considered that important. So practically, the fact that Isabella has spent so little time with Jenkins is in part the "fault" (though I don't actually call it a fault, because I don't think her lack of familiarity with Jenkins is a bad thing) of the judge's intransigence in insisting on unsupervised visitation.

3) Miller has reason to believe that unsupervised visitation is very bad for her child. This is partly a matter of the child's being taught seriously bad moral ideas; it is partly a matter of the tension, unhappiness, and disorientation caused by the child's being forced to spend time with someone that it is Miller's duty to tell the child is not her mother and is someone she is being forced to send her to stay with; it is partly a matter of disturbing allegations by the child. Therefore, Miller's actions in refusing unsupervised visitation are in my opinion justified.

4) Finally, and even over and above all these things, the facts on the ground must and should be relevant to a decision to grant total custody to Jenkins, regardless of the origin of those facts, for reasons of sheer humaneness to Isabella. My God. You people are just amazing. I would have thought that even a homosexual advocate could see a "do no harm" principle here. What ever happened to leaving people alone, which is what we're always told is what homosexuals want--to be left alone? What about leaving Isabella alone? Why is the so-called "right" of Jenkins and the so-called "wrong" of Miller in not acceding to previous orders sufficient to make it legitimate to traumatize a child? Why is it so important that any inhumanity to the child is justified by it? Why can't Jenkins just stop pursuing these people? I would have thought that sheer desire not to put a child through this trauma of being given away to a stranger--and liberals are supposed to be such kind-hearted people, always sticking up for the little guy--would kick in here. Where is common sense? It just astonishes and horrifies me--the steely-eyed devotion to ideology at the expense of all considerations of the child's best interests.

It is not Miller's "fault" that she is the only mother Isabella has ever known, because Jenkins is not Isabella's mother. Therefore, for Miller to cooperate in the fiction that Jenkins is Isabella's mother is for her to cooperate in a lie, and a rather important lie.

Jenkins is roughly analogous to the girl's father in a legal sense. I happen to largely agree with what you said about the illegitimacy of her role in all of this and understand where you are coming from, but since Vermont is participating in the fiction of gay marriage there are certain constitutional and legal issues at play here. If Jenkins were a man, and fully married in a heterosexual marriage as opposed to a civil union, it would be "unconservative" to argue that Miller's ex-husband had no legal claim to custody of the child.

I would not be surprised if Jenkins actually claims that she is being denied rights under the 14th amendment if Virginia ends up denying her custody in the end on any grounds other than being unfit, provided that Virginia does not have a law stating that married men would have no similar claim on children like Isabella in their marriages.

Virginia is pretty much out of the whole thing, now. The Virginia courts have ruled that the ball, so to speak, is in Vermont's court. Evidently this is partly because Miller did not wait to establish residency in Virginia (I guess she hadn't lived there long enough after moving back there) before filing for the dissolution of the civil union. There are other reasons, too, including a federal law that says states must grant full faith and credit to all custody orders from other states.

If Jenkins were a man, and fully married in a heterosexual marriage as opposed to a civil union, it would be "unconservative" to argue that Miller's ex-husband had no legal claim to custody of the child.

That's totally irrelevant. It's like asking what the legal implications would be if I were a dolphin. Or a rock. Why even talk about it? What's right here is a function of reality, not of pernicious legal fiction.

Bob, I don't _think_ that's going to influence the difference of emphasis between me and Mike T, because Mike T and I appear to both be Protestants (my guess about him) and have more or less agreed in another thread about divorce and remarriage. We're both kind of unusual Protestants on that subject (my perception), though I know I don't entirely accept the Catholic view, and from one of his comments, I don't think he does either. But we both seem much more inclined than most Protestants to think that a remarriage can be literally adulterous because the former marriage is still valid. That, at least, is my impression from an earlier exchange with him on the subject of divorce.

For the record, I tend to take the conservative view that remarriage is inherently illicit unless either one's spouse has died. The cases where God's grace may come into play are few and far between compared to the cases where both parties were made for each other if you know what I mean.

I'm also a Protestant with a number of Catholic tendencies.

That's totally irrelevant. It's like asking what the legal implications would be if I were a dolphin. Or a rock. Why even talk about it? What's right here is a function of reality, not of pernicious legal fiction.

You can ignore the legal fiction, or you can acknowledge the fact that there are men in robes who have a small army of men in uniforms with guns and badges who believe very strongly in it.

Your choice.

But they're wrong. Seriously, horribly wrong. I don't know what you mean about "ignore," but I'm not _ignoring_ it. I'm _noisily yelling that it's a lie and should not be enforced_. It's very important to do so. I don't believe in being forced to accept serious metaphysical lies just because somebody banged a gavel on them. If someday it's legally declared that people can "marry" animals, I'm also not going to accede to that legal fiction in my language or actions, and insofar as it affects other decisions by other people, I will fight it all the way. Same here.

Now, in less flippant terms, I'll tell you why you should talk about it: because the law will acknowledge it, and the law will factor it into other decisions later. If the law established a dolphin as a "non-human person" and tells you that you must meet a hiring quota of dolphins, you have two choices:

1) Ignore it at the risk that the legal system will order men with guns to arrest you, deprive you of your liberty and maybe even your life for non-compliance with the dolphin-hiring quota.

2) Acknowledge it and either fight it or comply with it.

No matter what you choose, if they decide that a dolphin is a person protected under anti-discrimination laws, they will send armed men to your business to arrest you if you don't obey the hiring laws. The police may sympathize with you, but they'll still arrest you because few of them want to be "that guy" who thought "you know, this law/order sounds like a load of bull$%^@, I think I'll just let this one go..."

But they're wrong. Seriously, horribly wrong. I don't know what you mean about "ignore," but I'm not _ignoring_ it. I'm _noisily yelling that it's a lie and should not be enforced_.

You're ignoring the fact that much of the system is fiction. The drama around the 2nd amendment is a perfect example. The guys who built the court houses probably have a clearer understanding of what it means and where it technically should apply, especially in light of the 14th amendment incorporation issues, than most of the judges and lawyers debating it.

But, be it as it may, the guys in the court house are the ones who get to tell us what it means, and they have a private army willing to disarm us if they later say "oh snap, it was a collective right, take away their guns, boys."

It is a very heavily armed lie, and for that reason, you should respect it.

Acknowledge it and either fight it or comply with it.

Three guesses, and the first two don't count, as to which I'm going to advocate.

Perseus, you are still refusing to answer my given hypothetical, but your position regarding cooperation in sending slaves back to their masters gives me an inkling of what you would say.

I assumed you would make the obvious inference that if I would acquiesce to a greater injustice, I would acquiesce to a lesser one.

My question is how do you justify such civil disobedience and what are the implications to the political order? E.g., Lincoln's principle was essentially no civil disobedience short of revolution lest people get to secede from the law whenever they want. Martin Luther King Jr., of course, argued that a person must violate the law openly and be willing to bear the penalty. Miller's behavior doesn't seem to fit either of those principles.

1) It is not Miller's "fault" that she is the only mother Isabella has ever known, because Jenkins is not Isabella's mother.

Well, that settl - wait - how many people undergo fertility treatment - using donor sperm and/or eggs - with the intention that their partner not be considered a parent?

The presumption that a child born from a legally recognized union is a child of both parents is centuries old.

Therefore, for Miller to cooperate in the fiction that Jenkins is Isabella's mother is for her to cooperate in a lie, and a rather important lie.

Miller certainly cooperated in the "fiction" that Jenkins is Isabella's mother when she claimed child support from Jenkins.

You're right - that was a rather important lie. But she can't have it both ways.

But this is but a mere distraction to my point. This is not just a homosexual issue - hetrosexuals encounter much the same issues. My point is that one parent should not be rewarded for ignoring a court order.


2) It is only in part because of Miller's actions [and] is in part the "fault" of the judge's...

But not Jenkins. So why, again, is this a point in Miller's column and not Jenkins'?


3) *snip*

My opinions are just as irrelevant as yours.


4) My God. You people are just amazing.

Why thank you - my Nordic genes do give me a certain rugged charm. But our love can never be.


Why is the so-called "right" of Jenkins and the so-called "wrong" of Miller in not acceding to previous orders sufficient to make it legitimate to traumatize a child? Why is it so important that any inhumanity to the child is justified by it? Why can't Jenkins just stop pursuing these people?

Perhaps I should make my point a little clearer: your position encourages parents to deny visitation to the other parent. Allow me to illustrate:

Suppose you have just given birth to a beautiful daughter. [If you want we can go all the way and say that you used a donor egg.] Not long after you have your darling girl, your husband converts to Islam and divorces you. Although you are heartbroken, the court nevertheless awards you and your ex-husband joint-custody of your daughter.

Your husband strongly believes non-Muslim women are unfit parents so ignores the court-ordered custody and refuses you any contact with your child. Not only does he tell your daughter that you are an unfit mother, but in his eyes you are not even her mother at all.

You do not see your daughter for over seven years.

Finally, the authorities track your husband and daughter down. The court orders your husband to hand your daughter back to you - even though you are a complete stranger to her.

But then you stop. And you think. The facts on the ground must and should be relevant to a decision to grant total custody to you, regardless of the origin of those facts, for reasons of sheer humaneness to your daughter. Why are your so-called "right" and the so-called "wrong" of your ex-husband in not acceding to previous orders sufficient to make it legitimate to traumatize a child? Why can't you just stop pursuing your ex-husband? I would have thought that sheer desire not to put a child through the trauma of being given away to a stranger would kick in here.

Even if your ex-husband had cooperated in the visitation orders, he would have been continually telling your daughter that you are not a proper mother at all, and that he is being forced to do this, which would hardly have encouraged "bonding" with you.


Not nearly as compelling when you change the facts - although I'm sure you'll come up with a reason why this is completely different.

But why should I, as a parent, comply with any court-ordered visitation, if running away results in one more reason why the child should stay with me?

Some very good points, James.

James (and you too, Keith),

You liberals always seem to think you can redefine reality and get conservatives to play along if you just have the guys in power on your side. So, no, I will not play along with the fiction that this faux "marriage" is *anything remotely like* a real marriage. And, yes, that is a _huge_ difference from _any_ scenario involving a real marriage.

There is much more I could say there and probably will at some point, especially relevant to the legitimacy of taking much more draconian steps *very early on*, when it would be far less traumatic to the child, to enforce a real mother's extensive contact with her child, so that a situation like the one you, James, lay out would not develop. Such early-on steps simply would not be legitimate in Jenkins's case, because (I'm getting tired of saying this), Jenkins is not Isabella's mother and has no real parental rights, and parental rights are not just a positive-law creation. They are natural rights, rooted in basic metaphysical and biological reality, and Jenkins hasn't got any of them, and Miller does.

However, I will cut to the chase even further concerning James's scenario. The Islam aspect is distracting, James, so do yourself a favor and cut it out of your scenario. A Muslim father trying desperately to retain utter control of his girl-child's life and to keep her from her mother ought to be sounding alarm bells in the ears of any sensible person. I believe in discrimination to keep little girls from such wonders as honor killings, forced marriage, being whisked off to life-long imprisonment in a Muslim foreign country, and female genital mutilation, and so should anybody with brains and knowledge; a Muslim father acting in the way you describe would be plausibly up to no good in a major way. So let's keep Islam out of this.

Let's change your scenario and make it an extreme-trad Catholic father who is hugely upset about my views on various Catholic-Protestant issues, takes the infant child to another state, defies court orders for visitation, etc., and somehow manages to keep this up for seven years without my having had a chance to get to know my own child. Let's suppose that as far as I can tell, he's taking good care of her, being a good father, she loves him, she's happy with him. But I'm cut out of the picture and portrayed to her as a bad person, so she doesn't want to have anything to do with me.

You know what? Yep, I don't pursue them. I seek a compromise, for the sake of the child. We should assume that the father, like Miller, is willing for me to have supervised, presumably relatively short, visits with the girl at a neutral location, so I do that. I suggest mediation to the judge and try to work with my ex-husband to find the compromise that allows me the most time with the child with the least trauma to her. I promise not to discuss the views he is so upset about with her. I'm willing for her not to stay overnight with me, especially at first until she gets to know me. I tell him I hope to win his trust and her trust by my behavior in the time I spend with her so that they are hopefully willing later for her to spend some more time with me. I admit the importance of continuity in her life. And I certainly _do not_ go along with, much less seek or abet, a court order to have her taken from him forcibly and full custody given to me. I'm not crazy or cruel, and I love the child more than I love either my own ego or my own legal rights or even the real importance (and it is a real importance) of my having a relationship with her. But what kind of a relationship would it be founded on what would seem to her a horrifying kidnaping from the only parent she had ever known? Talk about getting off on the wrong foot!!! I'd have to be crazy to force the relationship that way--crazy both in terms of my prospects of trust from the child and also crazy in terms of my willingness to terrify and traumatize her.

Jenkins is not Isabella's mother and has no real parental rights, and parental rights are not just a positive-law creation. They are natural rights, rooted in basic metaphysical and biological reality, and Jenkins hasn't got any of them, and Miller does.

That's why I raised the issue of slavery whereby property rights in people were likewise a creation of positive law (assuming that natural rights do not sanction slavery). You have said what you would do in James's hypothetical, but you, in turn, still haven't addressed the political justification (and its implications) of your approbation of Miller's actions.

Miller's behavior doesn't seem to fit either of those principles.

Miller is a scared woman who is being unjustly hounded by the state which is after her child.

I don't blame her for refusing to obey the law AND hiding.

If the system (courts, prosecutors and police) would just do what is right, there would be no threat to the political order.

a person must violate the law openly and be willing to bear the penalty.

If the penalty is having her child taken away, then "the penalty" is in this case inextricably bound with the very reason for the civil disobedience! Come on! Obviously you aren't going to disobey to protect your child and then say, "Oh, now I have to be willing to pay the penalty" and turn over your child! Moreover, if she goes to jail, _of course_ the child is going to be turned over to Jenkins.

It just isn't always possible to apply principles like King's, however admirable in the abstract, to real scenarios, especially ones where "accepting the penalty" would mean harming the very people one was trying to protect by means of the disobedience.

Mike T, great comment.

It just isn't always possible to apply principles like King's, however admirable in the abstract, to real scenarios, especially ones where "accepting the penalty" would mean harming the very people one was trying to protect by means of the disobedience.

It is only possible to apply King's principles in a society where the state will back down under popular pressure. There are many societies where the state would not hesitate to simply liquidate someone like MLK without a second thought.

The problem I have with submitting to the punishment here is that the Christian example has never in the past acknowledged that the authority imposing the evil was authorized, by natural law or God, to impose it. It was intended to be a statement of, "you will maim or murder me, and then the world will know how evil you truly are," not some sort of acknowledgment that Caesar has natural or divine authority to back up his evil acts with a use of legitimate force. When Paul submitted himself to Caesar and was killed anyway, that is what he intended to do: indict the Romans, not acknowledge their power over him.

It doesn't naturally follow that such rebellion against the decision and its enforcement need be violent, it can be simply fleeing.

I don't see what actual transcendental good would come to society by a woman bowing to a judge who wants to harm her child like this. The temporary "threat" to political stability is certainly irrelevant compared to the harm that obedience would inflict on the public morals which feed political stability.

In short: the Christian martyr bears witness to the depravity of the world by submitting to its wicked faux punishments, but does not, not ever, acknowledge that the world has any authority to inflict injustice for such an acknowledgment would be to say that God has given a blank check to evil men to do evil.

If the system (courts, prosecutors and police) would just do what is right, there would be no threat to the political order.

There would also be no sham "civil unions".

The problem is, of course, that they think they ARE doing what is right.

From the very day we began to elevate the law over the Law-giver, we began to lose a sense of what is right. This is just the Milgram Experiment writ large: go ahead, push the button and send the system into political chaos. You have to do it. Its the right thing to do. Don't you see my white lab coat/black judge's robe? How could I be wrong? Do it for science/society.

In reality, neither person should have custody of the child. Neither one of them has shown an understanding of what it really means to be a mother (hint: it is more than just being a care-giver) Give the child to a nice, normal adoptive couple, not one or both of a couple of screwed up old women.

The Chicken

Remember, Chicken: Miller repented. For all you know, she may have even repented of the artificial insemination itself, realizing that it was a wrong way to generate a child while loving the child thus generated. This is in any event a woman who has done all she can to make amends for her wrong in the past and heaven knows has suffered already for it and will likely suffer more. In my opinion, she definitely should have custody of her biological child.

Remember, Chicken: Miller repented.

True and I overreacted without checking out the particulars of the story. I would still like to see her get married to some man. That would probably do more to short-circuit the judges ruling than anything.

The Chicken

Lydia,

One of the signs of the "turning into self" that you mentioned in a previous post must surely be making a blog post after only reading the comments instead of the background articles as I did, above. My apologies to you, the blog, and Miss Miller.

The Chicken

No problem, Chicken. I've done the same myself on many-an occasion. (Reading comments before reading the post.)

That would probably do more to short-circuit the judges ruling than anything.

Wish you were right. But in our world, almost certainly not. Ms. Jenkins is being treated like an ex-husband, and AFAIK getting remarried is not taken in itself to cut off the ex's rights to visitation and/or joint custody.

Perseus, I noticed that above you referred to the "lesser injustice." Remember the specifics of my hypothetical (or even of this real case). If you think that being forced to turn your children over to homosexual strangers, or to any strangers, when you have done nothing whatsoever to deserve to lose custody, simply because the law declares it, is a *lesser injustice* than returning slaves to masters under the Fugitive Slave Act, then you and I have major disagreements about parents, children, and injustice.

Let me ask you, though: Is there any court order you would refuse to carry out? Let's assume that the court order in question is kosher solely as far as the _positive law_ is concerned. Is there nothing so heinous that you wouldn't do it when ordered by a court under the positive law? If there isn't, then God help you. If there is, then it seems that our disagreement is over whether the particular court order in this case is bad enough to justify disobedience, not over the nature or justification of civil disobedience itself.

"If you think that being forced to turn your children over to homosexual strangers, or to any strangers,"

Except, of course, that isn't what is happening. The person with whom you were in a legally binding relationship, who was complicit with you in becoming pregnant, who was present at the birth, who you allowed to parent and encouraged to adopt the child, from whom you accepted child support, and with whom you initially agreed on visitation, simply can't be described as a stranger and, knowing the facts of the case, can't honestly be described as a stranger.

Repentance is a personal matter between her and her religion, it doesn't unilaterally wipe the slate clean in any other way. She made certain voluntary committments that she simply can't abrogate because her new best friends need cannon fodder for their culture wars.

I will not play along with the fiction that this faux "marriage" is *anything remotely like* a real marriage. And, yes, that is a _huge_ difference from _any_ scenario involving a real marriage.

Once again, marriage (and homosexuality) is irrelevant. There is nothing in the Miller/Jenkins scenario that couldn't happen to an unmarried male/female couple.

Miller treated Jenkins just like a real parent when she decided to have a baby with her. Miller treated Jenkins just like a real parent when she sought child support from her. The court treated Jenkins just like a real parent when it awarded visitation to her. Miller needs to deal with the consequences of her actions.


The Islam aspect is distracting, James, so do yourself a favor and cut it out of your scenario.

Seeing as you asked so nicely, I will gladly do you a favor and cut it out of my scenario.

It's not as if the Muslim husband's religion-based deep-seated enmity toward non-Islamic women is in any way comparable to Miller's religion-based deep-seated enmity toward homosexuals.


A Muslim father trying desperately to retain utter control of his girl-child's life and to keep her from her mother ought to be sounding alarm bells in the ears of any sensible person.

Whereas a born-again Christian mother trying desperately to retain utter control of her girl-child's life and to keep her from the person she acknowledged as a parent and demanded child support from is, apparently, a great and glorious thing.

It does make me curious how you'd feel if, when renouncing lesbianism, Miller had turned to Islam instead of Christianity.


You know what? Yep, I don't pursue them. I seek a compromise, for the sake of the child... I certainly _do not_ go along with, much less seek or abet, a court order to have her taken from him forcibly and full custody given to me... But what kind of a relationship would it be founded on what would seem to her a horrifying kidnaping from the only parent she had ever known?

I'm really not seeing any downside for your husband here, even though he disappeared with (some might say kidnapped) your child.

Before 'disappearance': Husband and you have joint custody.
During 'disappearance': Husband has (unauthorized) full custody.
After 'disappearance': Husband has primary custody. You have limited, supervised visitation.

Wouldn't that give every incentive for any parent to just take off with their child and hide?

The first priciple of moral theology is that one may not use an evil means to a good end. If a law obligates one to accept something contrary to the moral order, then it becomes a form of abuse. Since homosexual acts are against the moral order, no positive law that supports them are binding on Christians. This was one of the four freedoms of Christians held by Scholastic moral theologians, called Freedom From the State. Since the law is morally defective in supporting homosexual unions, any ruling of law from the judge that supports the law is not binding on Miller. All the judge can really do is use invalid force to carry out his ruling. I wish Christians, as a group, would rise up and assert their freedom in this area. Either the Faith is worth dying for or we should all go home and leave the country to be led by highly paid moral ignoramouses.

MC, are you _sure_ you are not related to my old friend Zippy? You sure remind me of him sometimes. I know you're _not_ he, but you have some of his refreshing qualities from time to time. Thanks for the shot in the arm.

Al, you were inattentive. My hypothetical to Perseus involved strangers in every sense of the word, in a sense even you acknowledge. He says he'd still give his children to them (though he can't quite bring himself to *come out and say it*, but he implies it quite clearly) if his children were chosen in a lottery, legally authorized, to be transferred to strangers in the name of "diversity." He calls this a "lesser injustice" as compared with turning over slaves to their masters under the Fugitive Slave Act.

But as for Miller, insofar as her initial relationship with Jenkins involved--as you liberal activists for the homosexual agenda insist it did--an implicit (not an explicit) commitment to treat Jenkins as the baby's parent for the rest of the child's minority, these were gravely immoral implicit commitments. The fact that she repented before (thank God) Jenkins actually adopted the child gave her a perfectly legitimate, yea even legal, way to get the child away from Jenkins's influence, which is a noble and laudable goal. She tried to do that. Judge Cohen decided to take the implications of the civil union law to give partial custody to Jenkins, and we were off to the races. None even of the "commitments" you guys want to claim Miller made regarding Isabella were ever formalized at all. The child support you keep banging on about was entirely informal and was certainly not sought by Miller once she sought to break ties between Jenkins and Isabella. It's over. It was a fiction to begin with, and Miller has no obligation whatsoever to keep on living to Isabella the lie that Jenkins is her "parent."

James says,

Whereas a born-again Christian mother trying desperately to [keep her child from her former lesbian lover's custody] is, apparently, a great and glorious thing.

You betcha. And if you think Miller is remotely comparable to a Muslim father planning to marry his daughter off against her will and honor-murder her if she puts a foot wrong, you are a fool and a bigot. But of course you haven't gone that far. Yet.

I don't blame her for refusing to obey the law AND hiding.
If the system (courts, prosecutors and police) would just do what is right, there would be no threat to the political order.

The city of man is imperfect so instances like these will always occur. So your vote is effectively for disobedience at will.

He [Perseus] calls this a "lesser injustice" as compared with turning over slaves to their masters under the Fugitive Slave Act.

I used it as a relative term because I would indeed consider it less unjust than returning slaves to their masters under the Fugitive Slave Act.

If the penalty is having her child taken away, then "the penalty" is in this case inextricably bound with the very reason for the civil disobedience! ...It just isn't always possible to apply principles like King's, however admirable in the abstract, to real scenarios, especially ones where "accepting the penalty" would mean harming the very people one was trying to protect by means of the disobedience.

This case obviously complicates matters, but you haven't indicated any principle at all on what should guide acts of civil obedience.

The city of man is imperfect so instances like these will always occur. So your vote is effectively for disobedience at will.

Not really. A law may be less than perfect but not morally defective, in which case, it should be obeyed. A law that is morally defective cannot be obeyed without cooperating in the sin. God gives no strength to sin, so to ask a person to obey a morally defective law is to ask them to do something that not even God will command. This elevates the law above even God.

Laws may be validly disobeyed if they violate a higher law or in cases of necessity. There is an old saying in Canon Law: Necessitas legem non habet, which roughly translated means, "necessity has (or knows) no law. Also, as for deciding whether or not an act of disobedience is morally proper, one might read St. Thomas Aquinas's commentaries on indiscrete obedience in the Summa, II.II.Q104 art 5:

Article 5. Whether subjects are bound to obey their superiors in all things?

Objection 1. It seems that subjects are bound to obey their superiors in all things. For the Apostle says (Colossians 3:20): "Children, obey your parents in all things," and farther on (Colossians 3:22): "Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh." Therefore in like manner other subjects are bound to obey their superiors in all things.

Objection 2. Further, superiors stand between God and their subjects, according to Deuteronomy 5:5, "I was the mediator and stood between the Lord and you at that time, to show you His words." Now there is no going from extreme to extreme, except through that which stands between. Therefore the commands of a superior must be esteemed the commands of God, wherefore the Apostle says (Galatians 4:14): "You . . . received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus" and (1 Thessalonians 2:13): "When you had received of us the word of the hearing of God, you received it, not as the word of men, but, as it is indeed, the word of God." Therefore as man is bound to obey God in all things, so is he bound to obey his superiors.

Objection 3. Further, just as religious in making their profession take vows of chastity and poverty, so do they also vow obedience. Now a religious is bound to observe chastity and poverty in all things. Therefore he is also bound to obey in all things.

On the contrary, It is written (Acts 5:29): "We ought to obey God rather than men." Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God. Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.

I answer that, As stated above (A1,4), he who obeys is moved at the bidding of the person who commands him, by a certain necessity of justice, even as a natural thing is moved through the power of its mover by a natural necessity. That a natural thing be not moved by its mover, may happen in two ways. First, on account of a hindrance arising from the stronger power of some other mover; thus wood is not burnt by fire if a stronger force of water intervene. Secondly, through lack of order in the movable with regard to its mover, since, though it is subject to the latter's action in one respect, yet it is not subject thereto in every respect. Thus, a humor is sometimes subject to the action of heat, as regards being heated, but not as regards being dried up or consumed. On like manner there are two reasons, for which a subject may not be bound to obey his superior in all things. First on account of the command of a higher power. For as a gloss says on Romans 13:2, "They that resist [Vulgate: 'He that resisteth'] the power, resist the ordinance of God" (cf. St. Augustine, De Verb. Dom. viii). "If a commissioner issue an order, are you to comply, if it is contrary to the bidding of the proconsul? Again if the proconsul command one thing, and the emperor another, will you hesitate, to disregard the former and serve the latter? Therefore if the emperor commands one thing and God another, you must disregard the former and obey God." Secondly, a subject is not bound to obey his superior if the latter command him to do something wherein he is not subject to him. For Seneca says (De Beneficiis iii): "It is wrong to suppose that slavery falls upon the whole man: for the better part of him is excepted." His body is subjected and assigned to his master but his soul is his own. Consequently in matters touching the internal movement of the will man is not bound to obey his fellow-man, but God alone.

Nevertheless man is bound to obey his fellow-man in things that have to be done externally by means of the body: and yet, since by nature all men are equal, he is not bound to obey another man in matters touching the nature of the body, for instance in those relating to the support of his body or the begetting of his children. Wherefore servants are not bound to obey their masters, nor children their parents, in the question of contracting marriage or of remaining in the state of virginity or the like. But in matters concerning the disposal of actions and human affairs, a subject is bound to obey his superior within the sphere of his authority; for instance a soldier must obey his general in matters relating to war, a servant his master in matters touching the execution of the duties of his service, a son his father in matters relating to the conduct of his life and the care of the household; and so forth.

Reply to Objection 1. When the Apostle says "in all things," he refers to matters within the sphere of a father's or master's authority.

Reply to Objection 2. Man is subject to God simply as regards all things, both internal and external, wherefore he is bound to obey Him in all things. On the other hand, inferiors are not subject to their superiors in all things, but only in certain things and in a particular way, in respect of which the superior stands between God and his subjects, whereas in respect of other matters the subject is immediately under God, by Whom he is taught either by the natural or by the written law.

Reply to Objection 3. Religious profess obedience as to the regular mode of life, in respect of which they are subject to their superiors: wherefore they are bound to obey in those matters only which may belong to the regular mode of life, and this obedience suffices for salvation. If they be willing to obey even in other matters, this will belong to the superabundance of perfection; provided, however, such things be not contrary to God or to the rule they profess, for obedience in this case would be unlawful.

Accordingly we may distinguish a threefold obedience; one, sufficient for salvation, and consisting in obeying when one is bound to obey: secondly, perfect obedience, which obeys in all things lawful: thirdly, indiscreet obedience, which obeys even in matters unlawful.

The Chicken

P. S. For those who haven't heard, Prof. Ralph McInerny, the famous Thomist/Mystery Write (Fr. Dowling) is near death from esophagial cancer. Prayers would, I'm sure, be appreciated. You can find more information, here.

Laws may be validly disobeyed if they violate a higher law

Which, as I said, is effectually allowing violation at will.

"Which, as I said, is effectually allowing violation at will."

Not unless you consider man to be the only law-giver or that there are not laws which are externally given to man (either by Nature or by Revelation). If laws are only the extension of men's wills, then you have a point. If there is a God and not just man's imagining that there is one, then there are laws which are stated by a higher authority then man. It is he who does not allow our will to be all and there can be no total anarchy in this case, since there will always remain ONE THING which is not subject to our whims. We may violate his higher laws at our whim, but at some point, his will is bigger than our whims and will manifest itself, either in this life, or the next. Therefore, it is safer not to violate his higher laws, even if it means violating the will of the whole human race who may disagree with them.

Not unless you consider man to be the only law-giver or that there are not laws which are externally given to man (either by Nature or by Revelation).

My point is that your view is an open invitation to an individual's subjective determination (based on nature, revelation, or what Zeus says) of what constitutes an unjust law and the extent to which it will be obeyed.

We may violate his higher laws at our whim, but at some point, his will is bigger than our whims and will manifest itself, either in this life, or the next. Therefore, it is safer not to violate his higher laws, even if it means violating the will of the whole human race who may disagree with them.

And once again, the ramifications of that position are the same.

Perseus, I don't see how King's maxim that you have to be willing to pay the penalty answers your question, anyway. Whether or not one is willing to go to jail for refusing to obey X law, one still has to decide when X is of such a sort that one should refuse to obey it. To tell you the truth, I'm not at all sure King is such a great role model here, because his sit-ins involved going out of one's way to find a law to violate. That, at least, is my opinion. It isn't as though someone was coming up to black people and telling them, "Go into that lunch counter, be refused service, and then show your obedience by turning around and leaving."

In this case, the law, as it were, has come to Miller. I would say that one is only _obligated_ to break a law if the law involves a command to oneself to do something--in this case, to Miller to submit to the removal of her child and her child's being given to Jenkins. Whether one is ever permitted to break a law when one is not obligated to break it (as in the case of King's sit-ins or abortion clinic protesters) is a question on which I haven't made up my mind. But I would certainly say that no one is obligated to go looking for trouble.

In any event, I'm not sure what, exactly, you're looking for. Obviously there is always going to be an epistemic issue. But equally obviously, there are some things that are heinous and intrinsically wrong, and you shouldn't do them even if ordered to do so in conformity with the positive law.

I ask you again, Perseus: Would you do absolutely anything, yourself, if ordered to do so according to the due forms of positive law? If not, then why are you giving me a hard time about saying that there are such cases?

The child support you keep banging on about was entirely informal...

I'm thinking you're wrong about that:

"In November 2003, Miller filed a "Complaint for Civil Union Dissolution" in Vermont. In the complaint, Miller listed I.M.J. as the "biological or adoptive child[] of the civil union." Miller also asked the Vermont court ... to award reasonable visitation rights to Jenkins, and to "award payment of suitable child support money."
http://courts.state.va.us/opinions/opncavtx/2405084.txt

Judge Cohen ordered exactly what Miller originally asked for.


And if you think Miller is remotely comparable to a Muslim father planning to marry his daughter off against her will and honor-murder her if she puts a foot wrong...

Making stuff up is nice and all, but I how about addressing my main point:

Again: wouldn't your position give every incentive for any parent to just take off with their child and hide?

Lydia,

Speaking of threats to the political order, I present these judges as an example of why the state can very well be the worst enemy to public order there is.

James, selective reporting: Other reports say that she checked all the boxes, making _contradictory_ requests, as instructed to do by a court clerk, who said, "Check all the boxes and let the courts work it out." That definitely does not amount to "asking" for all the things in the checked boxes.

As far as what my position would give an incentive for, I'm a deontologist in ethics. If it's a matter of terrorizing an innocent child in order not to "give incentives" for something or other to adults, I really don't give a darn. I'm not going to advocate doing something wrong for consequential reasons.

My point is that your view is an open invitation to an individual's subjective determination (based on nature, revelation, or what Zeus says) of what constitutes an unjust law and the extent to which it will be obeyed.

I repeat: such subjectivism amounts to a tacit lack of belief in God. People make all sorts of excuses for denying a hierarchy of laws, but just because they pretend they don't exist does not, in fact, exist.

In you way of looking at things (as I understand it), you simply pass the subjectivity on to the giver of arbitrary laws (some group or person) just so long as they have all of the guns. So, does might make right?

The Chicken

James, selective reporting...

I'm thinking that the Virginia Court of Appeals is about an unbiased reporter as we're going to get.

In any case, moved goalposts noted.


If it's a matter of terrorizing an innocent child in order not to "give incentives" for something or other to adults, I really don't give a darn.

No, it isn't.

But I like how you dismiss "running and hiding with an innocent child" as merely "something or other." As if such hand-waving can pretend that forcibly preventing any contact between an innocent child and her other parent (that would be you, in our hypothetical) wouldn't also terrorize her.

Instead, you are essentially advocating "first parent to abduct the child wins". You really should give a darn.

wouldn't also terrorize her.

Psychologically, it wouldn't. Sorry. We have to deal with facts. And it's rolling-on-the-floor-laughing time if we're supposed to think that Miller "terrorized" Isabella by removing her from contact with Jenkins at the age of 17 months. Yeah, right, I'm sure she was screaming as she was torn away. Just like she will be now if they find her.

Not really. A law may be less than perfect but not morally defective, in which case, it should be obeyed. A law that is morally defective cannot be obeyed without cooperating in the sin. God gives no strength to sin, so to ask a person to obey a morally defective law is to ask them to do something that not even God will command. This elevates the law above even God.

MC, this is all true, but in stating it thus you have left a slight area of ambiguity, and this area is central to the question.

A law can be morally defective in two distinct ways. (A) It can provide for the operation of, or PERMIT something that the state is obliged to NOT provide for or permit. (B) The law can command, prescribe, and require an action of me that is of itself immoral for me to do because it is always immoral to do.

This distinction is important, for the moral defect in these gives different results in how we are to treat them, as understood by St. Thomas, and by canon law, for example. A law that is immoral in second sense cannot be obeyed without committing a sin. A law that is an immoral law in the first sense can be followed without committing a sin.

Providing for civil unions of homosexuals, and permitting adoption by same, are clearly in category (A). That law does not demand that _I_ contract a civil union, or that I adopt a child outside of natural marriage. There is no action required of me by this law that demands that I act immorally. So, in spite of the fact that the law is an immoral law, I can stay within the law without sin.

The law that provides for a child to be put into custody of someone other than the biological parent is clearly not a law of type B, not OF ITSELF. That law is a necessity, since there are cases of bona-fide child abuse and endangerment, and the state's obligation to protect the citizen (in this case the child) trumps the parent's natural right to custody - when sufficient evidence of abuse is apparent. So it would be impossible to maintain that the law which provides for removal of the child from the custody of the natural parent is OF ITSELF an immoral law, and must be disobeyed at all times as being contrary to God's law.

What we have here is an obvious instance where the judge, by a judicial act (rather than a legislative act by the law-maker) is trying to enjoin the application of custody law in a manner which is revolting to the natural order, primarily because he misperceives the situation as a situation which calls on the state to exercise oversight of custody, rather than leaving it entirely in the hands of the natural, biological parent. The fact that he is simply wrong about his estimation that there is in fact a state custody concern does not make his decision a decision that it would be immoral for the biological mother to obey. If she were to permit the judge's decision to stand, and allow custody to be awarded to the idiot formerly-civil-unionized-now-ununionized female thingy, and do so under protest, she would not be committing a sin as in category B above. I don't see any way of concluding that she is morally required to disobey the judicial decision. An this in spite of the fact that the decision is horrible as a legal conclusion and utterly abominable as a concrete situation.

As a separate question, it may be asked whether she MAY disobey the decision, without sin. This is a much more difficult question.

To show why and how it is so difficult, I would distinguish a third conceptual category in which a law may be immoral: (C) It may command an act which is not immoral of its own nature, but may be immoral at certain times under certain circumstances.

(This is definitively NOT to be understood as the rule under which we make exceptions for an emergency situation (like when we drive on the wrong side of the road to avoid causing an immediate accident) - that's a separate rule. One of the usual descriptions of that rule is an emergency situation where, _If_You_Had_Time to consult the lawmaker, he (they) would provide for you to do something other than what the law says. But since you don't have time, you disobey the law in order to promote the common good in a more important way than breaking the law causes damage to the common good. This rule obviously cannot be employed when the act in question is under the advisement of the judicial system and all of its appeals avenues etc.)

The problem here with category C is this: whose discretion determines when the circumstances do not allow obedience because in those circumstances obedience constitutes an immoral act prudentially speaking? Obviously, the only proposed answer is: the discretion of the person acting, and deciding whether obeying the law is moral given these circumstances. But if the acting person gets to use his own discretion to ascertain whether the law, admittedly not an immoral law in general (as in B), is immoral here precisely because of circumstances, then ALL laws everywhere will simply have people saying "oh, well, I know that the law is usually an ok law, but gee, in my circumstances it was such a terrible idea that it was just plain immoral for me to allow the state to be damaged by my adherence to that law." In effect, every law will only be considered binding when the person feels that obedience to the law is not TOO far off from supporting the common good, and when it gets to have too damaging an effect (in that person's judgment), well the law ceases to be binding. Which means that law will not have the effect of enacting the judgment of the law-maker, but only of each individual person. (Example: I cannot afford these expensive special glasses for my kid while I pay all of my taxes, and my kid cannot succeed in school without these special glasses, and it is positively immoral for me to fail to give my kid an appropriate education, so I am going to cheat on my taxes to the extent of the cost of these glasses.)

In general, then, there is a grave danger to the very idea of law if we say that we leave to the individual person the discretion of deciding when obedience to the law is, in these circumstances here and now, not to be given because to do so would be (prudentially speaking) immoral.

Nevertheless, what we have today is a situation where the very idea of law is breaking down, when (1) society and legislatures do not recognize proper natural boundaries to law (thinks that it can - or must - legally provide for gay marriage, as an example), and (2) judges do not recognize proper limits for their role in judicial acts, putting their own will over that of the legislature quite regularly. Where, in a normal and stable society, the bindingness of law is very strong and obliges us to submit to the discretion of the law-maker on matters of prudence; in a degenerating society the bindingness of law cannot but be damaged to the extent that the law-makers and judges fail to reflect - or even to understand - the proper role of law in promoting the common good. As a result, you can have situations where it is virtually impossible for a person to confidently determine whether their obligation to submit their own judgment to that of the authorities is fully in force or whether they _ought_ to defy the authority, or whether they have room for choosing which depending on whether they think they can get away with it or make it stick.

In this particular case, I fear (much as I hate the result), that Miller's quandary is an effect of her immoral earlier choices. It is not impossible to say that her having to submit to the state provides a gravely unsatisfactory result for her child, but she put that result in train when she contracted a civil union to begin with. It is morally possible that she should suffer the natural consequences of her own evil choice. It is ALWAYS the case the sins of the parents can result in gravely unacceptable situations for the kids. So the fact that this consequence is evil for the child does not automatically determine that such result provides a sufficient moral ground for disobeying the judge. We might need to re-read Socrates argument in the the Crito .

That said, the judge is an idiot and ought to be thrown from the bench, and any decent appellate court ought to vacate his decision.

Tony, I'm strongly inclined to disagree with you. I think that it _would_ be immoral for Miller to acquiesce in giving her child to Jenkins. I think it would be abrogating her responsibility to try to protect her child from grave moral and psychological danger, and it would be (by turning the child over) actively acquiescing in such endangerment--hence, wrong for a parent to do. This is all the more true if we take as accurate the reports that Isabella said she wanted to die after one visit with Jenkins and that she claimed to have been forced to bathe naked with Jenkins. I don't think these reports are necessary to make the case that it would be immoral for Miller to turn her over to Jenkins, but they do strengthen it, and for a person who takes your position, they may be relevant.

I do not consider that the fact that Miller's own sinful acts set this in train (which is of course true) changes the situation or, for that matter, is even relevant. Miller has to protect and care for her child _now_. That is her responsibility _now_. It is not merely she who would be "suffering the consequences" if she turned Isabella over. Rather, she would be acquiescing in the innocent Isabella's suffering horrible consequences which are not inevitable or necessary consequences unless they are forced upon Isabella, and which therefore should not be thus forced.

I would go so far as to say that even if you have no particular reason to believe that some stranger is a danger to your child, it would be immoral for you to acquiesce in an arbitrary decision by a court to take your child away from you and assign the child to a non-natural parent. Consider my example of the lottery, above. You have a responsibility to attempt to continue in your God-given role as your child's parent, and if the state unjustly and arbitrarily tries to take your child away, you have not only a right but a responsibility to resist.

But you doubtless won't buy that. My guess is that you would say that if the state held a lottery--having nothing to do with any fault on your part--and tried to take your child away and give him to a stranger, at least where you had no reason to believe that person a danger to your child, you would have to obey the order.

But what if the person were definitely and seriously unsuitable as a parent? I think you would agree (I hope you would agree) that there are people whom it would be wrong to give your child to. It's just a matter of ratcheting up the danger--moral, physical, and/or spiritual. At that point, it's really just a question of whether the unsuitability of Jenkins is sufficiently serious.

I may not say this often, but I will say it now: GO, LYDIA!

Bless you, Maximos. :-)

I've found it somewhat disturbing that people who are conservatives (and I say that sincerely, without any intended irony) think that Miller is wrong here. It appears to spring from a certain notion of the rule of law.

I believe that homosexual activists are counting on this. If they can capture the halls of power, they can tell all of us conservatives just, in essence, to suck it up. Deal with it. They're in charge. They make the rules. If we want to respect the rule of law, we have to go along with it.

It's profoundly disturbing to think that there are a lot of conservatives who will allow themselves to be thus bullied. And if they will do so in such grave cases as this one involving a child, then I suppose a fortiori they will do so when it's "only" a matter of using the term "spouse" for an employee's male-male sexual partner, inviting Heather's two mommies to the parent-teacher conferences at your Christian school (and calling them both "moms"), etc.

The truth is that laws which "permit" civil unions and homosexual "marriages" have many, many ramifications that are not just matters of permitting but of requiring--requiring everyone else to treat those people as truly married spouses.

Lydia, would it be acceptable to propose that Miller should go ahead and run with the child, but RUN TO ANOTHER COUNTRY, and (if possible) become a citizen of that country, so that she is not defying the laws of the country that are binding on her.

I do not consider that the fact that Miller's own sinful acts set this in train (which is of course true) changes the situation or, for that matter, is even relevant. Miller has to protect and care for her child _now_.

I agree with your point that the fact that her own sins set this whole thing in motion do not completely control and force an outcome that she must submit to the state. But that still doesn't mean it is wholly irrelevant.

The fact that Miller has to protect her child now is true, but true with circumstances. Let me put that in context: if a dad starts taking drugs and becomes an addict and indulges in neglect and (begins to) verge on abuse, the state has every right to take the kids away and place them elsewhere. The fact is that some of the "place the kid elsewhere" options are horrible, and Dad, realizing this finally and coming to his senses might say: "well, I am going to go straight, cut out the drugs, stop neglecting the kids, and I have to take them and run from the state because it is my duty to protect them from where the state is going to put them." We would not agree with Dad, in part because we don't trust his intent to quit the drugs (he is, after all, an addict). In addition, the fact is that Dad's own actions of neglect and abuse have eroded part of his right to be in control of his kids' situation, and that fact itself modifies his obligation to be the one who decides how to take care of the kids. He no longer holds that obligation solely, he has already ceded to others the right to enter into the decision. What he now holds is a duty to do right by his kids to the extent possible within the contraints of a law which, though not hardly designed to be harsh to the kids, will end up doing that inadvertently.

The fact that Miller shouldn't have entered into a civil union, but did, and shouldn't have taken any steps that could, in the eyes of the state, give a position of partial trust and partial authority over the child to the other party, and

shouldn't have but did stupidly fill out the court documents in an ambiguous manner, without adequate attention to the fact that EACH ONE of these decisions could affect future custody rights over the child, means that Miller has chosen actions which of themselves damage her right to control her child's custody by herself. Like the Dad above, her own actions have eroded her right to exercise the fullness of control that nature initially puts into the hands of a parent. (Might I mention: I consider that her initial act of having a child through unnatural means while in that civil union is itself a deep form a child abuse, and would - in a decent state - potentially justify taking the child away from her, if there was a prospect of a decent family to adopt. The fact that she repents of the civil union does not tell us whether she also repents of this evil act.)

But you doubtless won't buy that. My guess is that you would say that if the state held a lottery--having nothing to do with any fault on your part--and tried to take your child away and give him to a stranger, at least where you had no reason to believe that person a danger to your child, you would have to obey the order.

No, I don't buy that, of course. As McChicken ;-) showed in the St. Thomas quote above, the obligation to obey authority applies only so far as the authority is exercising its capacity "within its sphere of authority." The determination of who shall be a child's parents simply does not belong in the sphere of authority of the state until there is some event that pushes the matter over the threshold into the state's hands. The fact that the matter is in the state's hands SOME of the time does not mean that it is by nature an area that is the subject of state authority.

I've found it somewhat disturbing that people who are conservatives (and I say that sincerely, without any intended irony) think that Miller is wrong here. It appears to spring from a certain notion of the rule of law.

That's why I included my comments about the bindingness of law when society is degenerating. I believe that that's certainly happening here, and while what she is doing MAY not be justifiable if society were sound and health, it may indeed be justifiable with what we have now. Given the incredible stupidity of the judge and the the evil backdrop of the laws that created this situation, I would certainly not be one to tell the police where Miller is hiding. If I were a sheriff told to collect her, I would probably either tell the judge NO to his face, or make sure that I went about it in such a way as to be certain to fail. Probably come down with a curious case of tunnel vision and not be able to see clearly at all for a while.

It's profoundly disturbing to think that there are a lot of conservatives who will allow themselves to be thus bullied.

I don't think that there is anyone here who would have called Socrates a weakling giving into a bully when he allowed himself to be put to death instead of taking the opportunity given him to escape. In reading the Crito, it is totally clear that his choice stems from a noble love nobly carried out, not fear or anxiety. Nor was St. Lawrence allowing himself to be bullied by his tormenters when he said "turn me over, I'm done on that side." (You know, the St. Lawrence who is the patron saint of cooks. Never let it be said that the Catholic Church doesn't have a sense of humor.) It is possible to tolerate an evil not out of fear but for other reasons.

The truth is that laws which "permit" civil unions and homosexual "marriages" have many, many ramifications that are not just matters of permitting but of requiring--requiring everyone else to treat those people as truly married spouses.

That matches up exactly with a discussion I had with family at Christmas time. I think that we can expect (down the road) first the quiet martyrdom of being forced into ever more constrained lives (ghetto, loss of jobs, loss of rights), and finally the more blatant martyrdom of prison and other punishments. That's why it is important to fight now while we still have most of those rights. And why I agreed with you 100% in a recent thread in which some others were pooh-poohing your concern about these evils, saying they are not indicative of "sky is falling" situation.

Tony,

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say [my emphasis]:

*******************************

1902 Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a "moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility":21

A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. Insofar as it falls short of right reason it is said to be an unjust law, and thus has not so much the nature of law as of a kind of violence.22

1903 Authority is exercised legitimately only when it seeks the common good of the group concerned and if it employs morally licit means to attain it. If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, "authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse."23

Duties of civil authorities

2235 Those who exercise authority should do so as a service. "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant."41 The exercise of authority is measured morally in terms of its divine origin, its reasonable nature and its specific object. No one can command or establish what is contrary to the dignity of persons and the natural law.

2242 The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."48 "We must obey God rather than men":49

When citizens are under the oppression of a public authority which oversteps its competence, they should still not refuse to give or to do what is objectively demanded of them by the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this authority within the limits of the natural law and the Law of the Gospel.50

2243 Armed resistance to oppression by political authority is not legitimate, unless all the following conditions are met: 1) there is certain, grave, and prolonged violation of fundamental rights; 2) all other means of redress have been exhausted; 3) such resistance will not provoke worse disorders; 4) there is well-founded hope of success; and 5) it is impossible reasonably to foresee any better solution.

The political community and the Church

2244 Every institution is inspired, at least implicitly, by a vision of man and his destiny, from which it derives the point of reference for its judgment, its hierarchy of values, its line of conduct. Most societies have formed their institutions in the recognition of a certain preeminence of man over things. Only the divinely revealed religion has clearly recognized man's origin and destiny in God, the Creator and Redeemer. The Church invites political authorities to measure their judgments and decisions against this inspired truth about God and man:

Societies not recognizing this vision or rejecting it in the name of their independence from God are brought to seek their criteria and goal in themselves or to borrow them from some ideology. Since they do not admit that one can defend an objective criterion of good and evil, they arrogate to themselves an explicit or implicit totalitarian power over man and his destiny, as history shows.51

***************************************

Since a law permitting homosexual unions is ipso facto an unjust law, since homosexual unions are against the natural and moral order, then, as 1903 above states, "such arrangements would not be binding in conscience".

This is not a case, here, where the state provides for something it should not and because it does not touch us directly, obedience is not an issue. It is also not the case where the state permits an evil for a limited time for a greater good. It is also not the case where the state permits an evil not directly intended by the law but foreseen as a natural consequence (a double effect scenario).

This the the case where a civil government passed a law directly contrary to the moral order and, therefore, not binding on the conscience of anyone. Any derivative actions relating to the enforcement of the law, are, likewise, also not binding on conscience. They may obey the law for a time, despite the evil, so as to promote the common good, but some laws touch foundational issues to such an extent that there is no common good to be gained by following them.

I would argue that marriage is such a foundational issue and that obeying any laws contrary to the good order of marriage, such as a redefinition and acceptance of relationships that have an appearance of marriage although offensive to the natural and Divine law would so subvert good order, both naturally and Divinely, that to obey them would be irrational and a grave violation of a rightly formed conscience.

The judge has no authority, in right reason, to be a judge in this case, since the law does no touch any man by obedience.

I suspect I haven't fully understood your Case (A), however, so can you give an example? One that is capable of being related to the case at hand would be particularly helpful.

Jenkins, make no mistake, has NO rights, here, since she has no true reasonable relationship to anyone in the case. Just because the government has granted her rights under a moral/legal fiction doesn't mean that she has, in fact, any rights. I am sorry, but this matter fast approaches a state where actual resistance to the law becomes incumbent upon all people of Christian Faith, not just Miller.

I am of the opinion that government is in such a sorry state these days because Christians have abdicated their responsibilities in government. We are meant to be a leaven in the public areas. We have become whipping boys. Thus, it becomes harder and harder to have laws that reflect any sort of moral order, when we let others, by sheer force of power and charisma, dictate laws that are so detached form them.

In any case, I trust we can all hold that this is a tragic situation in the true Aristotelian sense.

I have to go pay my sleep deficit - maybe for a few months - before I can be sure I am making sense, so make of my ramblings what you will.

The Chicken

Tony, I appreciate your most recent comment, and I apologize for having misunderstood you. I probably read your earlier comment too quickly. I took you to be agreeing far more strongly with Perseus than, it turns out, you are. Your comments about tunnel vision make this pretty clear, esp. when compared with Perseus's position regarding the Fugitive Slave Act and his express analogy between that and the current situation. As far as I can tell, that definitely means that he would not develop tunnel vision if he were charged to find Miller and Isabella.

I probably have some more to say later, but for the moment: Under current U.S. federal law, a parent cannot get a passport to take a child under 14 out of the country unless it can be shown that either a) anyone else treated as a parent by the courts agrees to the child's getting the passport or b) the parent seeking the passport has sole legal custody of the child. So Miller can't flee the country, except, of course, secretly and without a passport for Isabella. That's just in answer to your one suggestion.

MC, you make perfect sense. Glad to see you here. Enjoy your sleep.

Dear Lydia,

Speaking of moral abominations, have you seen this news report:-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8459388.stm

Yet more euthanasia here in the U.K. This time a woman who killed her son (after already making a previous attempt) with a heroin overdose.

Yes, saw it at Secondhand Smoke. And she succeeded. She shouldn't even have been on the streets after the first attempt. The combination of "soft on crime" and "soft on killing the disabled" is about as deadly as it gets.

MC, I had not realized just how forceful the Catechism is on the topic. You present a strong argument.

Nevertheless, even with a firm conclusion that the state is doing something that justly may be resisted doesn't necessarily mean that the biological mother is the one who has the standing to do the resisting. She is, after all, the one who conceived the child unnaturally. It is possible for both the state and Miller to be parties in the wrong here.

Miller was in the wrong in conceiving the child. But I think, Tony, that I'm much less inclined than you might be to use that as an argument for terminating parental rights. And I would strongly, strongly resist it as an argument for separating mother and child when the child is seven years old and has a full-scale relationship with her mother. Indeed, that is part of my argument against the homosexual activists: Even through the haze of their crazy ideology, they ought to balk at the thought of tearing the child away from her mother, who has been her mother all her life, and giving her to someone else just because they think it is the other woman's "right," just to punish Miller for refusing to obey the court orders for visitation, and so forth.

I would, were I dictator of Lydiastan, criminalize artificial insemination and IVF. But I would criminalize them by way of fines, shutting down the facilities that facilitate it, etc., not by way of terminating parental rights to a biological mother who has borne her own child and given birth to it. And I certainly would not separate mother and child when they are already bonded to each other, unless there were evidence of _other_ abuse or unfitness for motherhood.

Practically speaking, I think you should recognize that there is no one else in the situation who is going to take the risks to try to save Isabella from being turned over to Jenkins. Even if Miller had some dear, trusted, Christian friends, a stable couple, to whom she was willing, albeit reluctantly, to surrender Isabella in adoption, there is no way that in the present situation such people would do what Miller has done, put themselves on the wrong side of a court order and in danger of arrest for kidnapping, and disappear with Isabella to hide her! You're going to have to accept Miller as the one with de facto custody of the child, who de facto loves the child and is willing to give her life for her and go to drastic extremes to try to protect her, in this case, because she's the only one to do it. The state is "in the wrong" in a way that Miller most definitely is not "in the wrong." The state is trying actively to harm the child. Miller is trying to save her. The difference couldn't be more stark.

My mom is doing this and she dont even no I no shes doing it the man name is (Dave Mathewws) and hes fat and ugly I want to tell my dad but I cant or else there gonna get a dovorcie and its all going to be my fault so somebody please...please help me get rid of him please!!!

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