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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

This is not a game

Several years ago I blogged here about the case of Lisa Miller. Brief background summary: Lisa Miller entered into a lesbian civil union in Vermont with Janet Jenkins. During this civil union, Miller conceived and bore a child by using a sperm donor. The little girl, Isabella, was only eighteen months old when Miller left the relationship and formally broke it up legally. Miller converted to Christianity, left the homosexual lifestyle behind her, and fled to Virginia to keep her child away from Jenkins, who represented all that she had repented of and was now leaving behind. Jenkins, let us bear in mind, is not in any way related to Isabella and has not lived with her since she was eighteen months old.

Vermont courts, to whom the custody decision was ultimately given, treated the unrelated lesbian Jenkins as Isabella's "other mother" and insisted on unsupervised visitation, even though Jenkins was, from Isabella's perspective, a stranger. Isabella made some of these visits but was so upset by them (and alleged that Jenkins had bathed with her naked) that Miller refused to allow any more such visits with Jenkins, who had neither any natural claim on Isabella whatsoever nor any relationship with her. Eventually the custody judge decided to punish Miller for her intransigence concerning the unsupervised visits and ordered that Miller give Isabella over entirely, full custody, to live in Vermont with Jenkins. Late in 2009, Miller fled with her daughter, then age seven.

For several years I have wondered what happened and have prayed for them from time to time. In fact, I was sure we would hear of their capture at any moment.

Now we have news:

Lisa Miller and Isabella got away successfully to Nicaragua, which does not have an extradition agreement with the United States for cases of kidnapping, or as in this case, "kidnapping." Here, the "kidnapping" involves a mother trying to save her own child from being turned over to an entirely unrelated female sodomite to be raised.

As it turns out, though, the federal government joined in the fray. They have now caught and convicted Mennonite Pastor Kenneth Miller (no relation) of helping Lisa Miller in her escape. It sounds to my ears like there could be more trials and convictions on the horizon as well. Meanwhile, Jenkins has filed civil suit against the pastor and at least one other person who helped Lisa Miller to escape. Even if Jenkins never gets her trophy-child, her quest for revenge will not cease until she has destroyed the lives of all those who helped to thwart her pursuit of Lisa Miller and Isabella.

May God protect Pastor Miller in prison (assuming that he is sentenced to a prison term, which seems inevitable). May God protect any others still vulnerable to pursuit or persecution who helped Lisa and Isabella. May God provide for those being pursued by Jenkins for money. And may God continue to guide and protect Lisa and Isabella in a far-off land. As far as I can see, Lisa will have to live abroad all her life (unless there is a statute of limitations) to avoid facing kidnapping charges.

The homosexualist machine is merciless. We should realize: This is not a game. This is not small stuff. This is big stuff. And this was "just" a civil union, too. Remember Lisa and Isabella, and Pastor Miller, who will presumably spend some years of his life in federal prison, next time someone asks you, "What could it hurt to give homosexual couples marriage rights?"

Comments (95)

Out of curiosity, I looked up the treaty with Nicuragua and it looks like they do have a kidnapping clause. Perhaps it's because they don't have a mutual aid treaty that keeps the Miller family from any Imperial entanglements?

It's a tragic story but we all know what the response will be: 'Doesn't this sort of thing happen in heterosexual relationships all the time? What's the difference?' How would you respond to this line of defence?

Ummmm, the difference is that it's happening in a specific type of scenario where there should never even be a legitimate legal claim on the child from the hostile party, and yet the defending party was legally forced to concede custody.

Scott, good question. I'm going by this in the story:

The Central American country is not a signer of the 1980 Hague convention on international child abductions,

David Houston,

Homosexuals do that because they are trying to make us play their game, to pretend that the homosexual civil union *really was* tantamount to a marriage and that in any meaningful sense whatsoever Janet Jenkins *really is* Isabella's mother. All of which is utterly false. Janet Jenkins has *no* claim of any kind on Isabella based on the fact that at the time of Isabella's birth Jenkins was engaged in a lesbian sexual relationship with Miller, a relationship which *could not* have produced a child, but which happened to have a positive-law recognition by the State of Vermont. The common law tradition that a married husband is prima facie the father of a child born in the marriage was, of course, a result of the fact that a man and a woman really can produce a child together, so prima facie it was to be taken that a child born _in_ the union was born _of_ the union. This is utterly irrelevant to lesbian couples and has been ported over as part of the insane and futile attempt by homosexual activists to pretend that reality is other than it is.

I tell homosexuals who try to make me play their game that this is like saying, "But if a human being were a dolphin, things would be different." Um, yes, if Janet Jenkins were a man, and if Lisa Miller had been married to that man at the time that Isabella was born, things would be different. But Janet Jenkins isn't a man, and all the legal foot-stomping in the world won't make it so.

So I just refuse to play the game. "This" doesn't happen with heterosexual couples all the time. Something different that homosexuals want us to pretend is "this" sometimes happens (e.g., custody disputes) when heterosexual married couples get divorced.

This should never have been regarded as a custody dispute in the first place. Because Janet Jenkins was not a husband. Nor a dolphin.

Point 1: What about cases where the husband is impotent and the wife has to be artificially inseminated? That husband would not be any more related than Jenkins is.

The problem seems more related to the definition of "parent" than "marriage".

Point 2: This is one of those cases where we can see the hazard of a society that is run by rules and laws (as opposed to principles): there is no law that can anticipate every situation - yet judges are bound by the letter. If we had a society where judges were free to use common sense in deciding cases by simple principles (e.g. what's best for the child?) , we might not have so much of this.

Now, I'm not sure exactly how such a society would work - it's a thought experiment and a work in progess - but I think we definitely have too many laws and that there has to be a way to reverse the trend.

The problem is that today common sense has been so extirpated from the legal profession and society that a Judge may indeed have little custom or tradition that he believes in. I do agree that the trend needs to be reversed, but that will have to involve a thoroughgoing social change reversing our present problems. They are all pervasive, especially in our academic institutions, including in our most conservative States.

Chucky, see above. I already addressed that. There is a reason for the common law tradition regarding a husband and a wife. Moreover, marriage is a real thing. I'm not going to _argue_ that with you in this thread. I'm just going to _tell_ you. A husband and wife are really a married couple, and their marriage deserves recognition, including the presumption of fatherhood. There cannot be any meaning to that presumption in the case of Jenkins. I just utterly refuse to play equivalency games here.

Miller had every right to flee the order. It was a horrifying and utterly unjust order, based on perversion and lies, against not only God but also against nature.

"Trophy-child"?

Reading about the harassment of normal men and women by the unbridled malice of homosexuals and their sympathizers, is another daily ordeal that intensifies my chronic despair.

I agree with Anymouse's comment. Present depravity will not be checked and still less reversed by piecemeal opposition. A complete transformation of the culture is our only hope, but I don't expect to see it in my lifetime.

Yes, Aaron, "trophy child." But because it was a lesbian relationship, it was only for second place.

Yes, a trophy child. This was a child with whom Jenkins had had nothing that could be remotely called a relationship since she was eighteen months old. (Cue all the liberals saying, "And whose fault was it, blah, blah, blah." Take that as read and ignored.) Isabella is not *and cannot be* Jenkins's own child. She simply was born to a woman that Jenkins was living with at the time. Full stop. You need your head examined if you cannot see that Jenkins has been viciously pursuing Miller all this time to make a point: See, homosexual unions are really just like marriage and dammit *will* be treated as marriage and I *will* get my rights as if I were this child's mother, come hell or high water. The child was afraid of Jenkins and didn't want anything to do with her, but Jenkins pursued her like a Fury. All her talk of "my daughter" and "looking forward to visits with her" is utterly creepy. This was a political custody case, manufactured out of a legal fiction and pursued for ideological ends. At no point in the whole matter were Isabella's actual best interests considered by anyone other than Lisa Miller and those who helped her. The judge ignored reports of the psychological trauma to Isabella of the visits and ordered full custody to Jenkins just to show Miller that she couldn't get away with defying court orders, not because this was best for Isabella, who would have been terrified to be taken from her mother and given over wholly to a near stranger who had disturbed her deeply in the few other coerced visits she had had with her. Utter insanity. Definitely: trophy child.

What Lydia said and I'll add that to the Homojuggernaut, Miller is particularly offense because she is guilty of apostasy. See, the prime dogma to them are that people are "born that way", and that goes only one way. That is, once you "discover" you are homosexual, you are in essence a homosexual. And we can't have any backsliders challenging the narrative, so they get dealt with harshly. This isn't just a hiccup in the transition to societal approval; this is going to be par for the course because as they advance from hollow victory to hollow victory they will never be happy as long as people exist that believe in true marriage. So it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to support and get chummy with your church's overseas mission work in case you find yourself having to pull up stakes.

Lydia:

This was a child with whom Jenkins had had nothing that could be remotely called a relationship since she was eighteen months old.

I agree with you that what Miller did was most likely best for the child (I say 'most likely' because we can never predict how a human being will turn out especially given how this information might affect an adolescent Isabella). I have some problems with some of your arguments though. Here, for instance, you say that 18 months is not enough time to establish a relationship with a child. I know that by the time my granddaughters were 18 months old, my wife and I had established quite a deep relationship with each of them - and we weren't seeing them every day. 18 months with a baby is a long time; a lot of development takes place during that time (first steps, first words). And the baby may very well have bonded with Ms. Jenkins as well.

From Isabella's standpoint, as she gets older, she will probably not remember those first 18 months. Perhaps that is the crux of your argument (I don't know). A court of law may not see it that way though.

So, even though I agree with you in principle, the 'letter of the law' might not.

Gays are "born that way." But children are not born to anyone. Welcome to the Orwellian world of same-sex "marriage."

Question to Jenkins: which one of the child's parents put the child up for adoption and designated you as the parent? You see, Jenkins, adoption only has its meaning because someone who is naturally responsible for the child willingly places that child in the care of others, FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILD. Adoption is humanity's way to care for those who cannot be cared for by those who are obligated, by NATURE, to care for them.

Because adoption is for the sake of the child, and because no natural parent placed the child in your care, and because your living arrangement and romantic relationship with one of the parents is irrelevant, you simply have no claim upon the child, whatsoever. There is no such thing as "squatter's rights" when it comes to children.

Because you are a woman, you cannot be the child's father. And because Miller is the child's mother and she has undoubtedly not placed the child in your care, you are not the child's mother.

And the baby may very well have bonded with Ms. Jenkins as well.

Whaddaya know, Chucky, by the time she was six and seven years old, she wanted nothing to do with the unrelated lesbian Jenkins. And rightly so.

The letter of the law? Well, yes, if the judge didn't recuse himself, he was obligated to pretend that this was tantamount to a marriage. Or so he believed. Even within that, the documented trauma to the child of the visits he had already ordered would have justified his limiting Jenkins's contact to supervised, brief visits in a neutral location rather than demanding sleepover parties with a little girl who was afraid of her! Family law judges famously have discretion to order what is in the best interests of the child. If this is what you care about, he could have worked within those and not pursued Isabella and Lisa like King Herod, but he chose not to. The judge behaved recklessly even by what might have been deemed his own lights.

However, those "own lights" were perverse anyway, as they required him to regard Jenkins as having *any* rights in the matter at all, any custody claim even to be considered.

Chucky, I know quite well where you are coming from: You're uncomfortable with the metaphysical position that this "union" was an utter legal fiction and an abomination and that all custody orders based on it are fundamentally unjust. Too bad. Be uncomfortable. Marriage isn't a bare creature of positive law, and people who think it is or want to act like it is are bound to be uncomfortable, because their view is at odds with reality. Reality has a way of making people uncomfortable.

Scott W., you have an excellent point about apostasy. A few years ago when I blogged about this someone who was "on the fence" on the matter likened Lisa Miller, as she presently is, to a drug addict. The implication, if I understood the analogy correctly, was that Miller still "is" in some sense a lesbian, might at any moment "fall" into another lesbian relationship, and therefore really isn't a fit mother for Isabella either, on a conservative view. Now, I'm strongly inclined to disagree with this. There may be some celibate Christian people for whom same-sex attraction remains somewhat like an addiction. They will have to speak for themselves. Even if a woman did continue to have private internal struggles with same-sex attraction, it wouldn't to my mind follow that she, the child's natural mother, is an unfit mother. But my impression with Lisa Miller was that she has come so completely out of the lifestyle that she no longer identifies herself as being a lesbian in any sense at all. It is all truly left behind her. That is something the left can't handle. But we conservatives should definitely be willing to accept the possibility and even the reality of such cases.

Especially if one acknowledges that "homosexual orientation" is not some essential fixed thing as many psychologists want us to believe.

I've junked a few critical comments in this thread because of their exceedingly low quality. If you were responding to the low-quality comments, don't take it personally that I also deleted your response. Thanks.

Inso far as the Anglican church - or some of its bishops like Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, who has joined the Out4Marriage campaign in support of 'homosexual marriage' - such are themselves, in the strict religious meaning of the term, turned to apostasy. They have abandoned their Christian principles and should be unfrocked.

I don't know whether any of the Catholic clergy have been excommunicated for holding similar views to Alan Wilson. He has a ridiculous website called Bishop Alan's Blog.

I want to encourage all my readers (other than liberal trolls, that is) to watch the video in the link above.

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/viewart/20120814/NEWS02/308140017/Minister-says-he-ll-accept-consequences-of-federal-conviction-in-Vermont-civil-union-child-custody-dispute-Kenneth-Miller-Lisa-Miller-Jenkins-Nicaragua

There is something inexpressibly touching and even awe-inspiring about Pastor Miller's dignity, peace, and Christian joy. He is surrounded by the Mennonite people of his congregation peacefully singing hymns. The very fact that this man considered himself bound to get involved, to the point of risking federal prison, is a solemn thought. It shows that he perceived the unnaturalness of what the government was trying to do to Lisa Miller and Isabella. I myself feel shock at the thought of his being sent to federal prison for several years. May God send his holy angels to protect him in that environment.

Anymouse's 10:13 comment is spot on. I really think that, in order to truly understand this cultural battle, you have to have spent some time on the ground talking to the various combatants and meeting them and sizing them up and listening to what they say when they are off the public record.

As an ex-liberal, I hug out with a lot these people, because I felt it gave me more "cred" and made me a more "authentic" member of the counter-culture. I personally know, and have have now disengaged with, people who are members of the Lambda Alliance.

Dan Savage is the norm among these types, and I can tell you that he is reigning it in relative to what I have seen and heard in person. Homosexual activists are, for the most part, a bunch of angry, bitter and unbelievably spiteful nihilists who absolutely despise normal Christians and are willing to deploy any legal and political means at their disposal to raze it to the ground. They have a demonic, hell-bent ruthlessness about them. If they could push a button and send all the Conservative Christians in the world to the gas chamber, they would do it in a heartbeat.

And they know they are winning the culture-war and that it is now just a question of how far they can push the envelope. And they punch above their weight, because they know they need to wheedle their way into the academic, legal and governmental professions.

So, in other words, this is a zero-sum game and any well-meaning Christians who think that a compromise with these people is possible are dupes and "useful idiots".

If nothing alters our current trajectory, I predict that within five to ten years gay "marriage" will be the law of the land. There are gay couples in Blue States who are, right now, getting lawyered-up so that they can pull off another "Roe vs. Wade" as soon as the liberals get a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court. As soon as that happens, there will be a made to order test case that "suddenly" emerges and which engage the body politic. In this case, a "married" gay couple that has been legally counseled by the ACLU and the Lambda Alliance since 2009 or so will move to Red State, immediately seek "marriage" benefits, and then file a 14th amendment "equal protection" lawsuit.

And then, after months of litigation and a 24-7 non-stop main-stream media blitzkri in favor of gay "rights," this (pre-decided) case will all the way to the top, and ligberals will invoke the 14th amendment and they will win the case. They will then ram gay "marriage" down the throat of the entire country. And right after that happens, it will be open season on institutional Christianity. The Dan Savages of the world will try to legally bankrupt every single Church and conservative Christian organization by means of a legal tsunami of discrimination lawsuits. They will start with the Catholic Church and then work their way down the ladder, picking off the churches one by one and suing them for everything they have.

Do you think they'll use the 14th amendment rather than the full faith & credit clause, Untenured? Or perhaps both?

Untenured, you're using a lot of fear language there buddy. It seems that you have an ideology rooted in fear. That's the tool that hell uses. Jesus wants us to love our enemies, remember? Fear distorts the way we look at each other. Love brings us closer.

(No, I didn't make that all up, alas.

http://radarradio.net/blog/fear-and-love)

@The Elephant:

I appreciate the spiritual concern, but sometimes fear is justified. There really are people who mean us harm and who we should be afraid of. If I knew for a fact that there were people working overtime to overturn the foundations of our culture and I didn't use alarmist language, it would be a betrayal. And I do know for a fact that there are people working overtime to overturn the foundations of our culture.

It isn't my ideology that is rooted in fear, it is my understanding of what is actually going on, and this understanding rooted in nearly a decade interacting with the vanguard of the institutional left. There are things we need to be afraid of, and that is why I might sometimes sound fearful.

I didn't get any fear out of Untenured's comments at all. Rather, I took it more in the vein of A Man for All Seasons when More says, "I show you the times." Naturally, none of us relishes the prospect of getting hounded out of jobs, sued, and our children being forced into homosexual indoctrination campaigns disguised as "anti-bullying" programs (irony of ironies), but I wouldn't call it fear so much as "hope for the best, prepare for the worst."

I think the Masked Elephant was too subtle. I figured out that the first part of ME's comment was meant to be satire from the parenthetical statement, "No, I didn't make that all up, alas."

I'm sorry Untenured, didn't mean to be obfuscatory. I assumed you knew my style and that I had tongue firmly planted in cheek. But hey, I fooled a couple people! That feels good. :)

He gets me like that all the time, if it's any consolation!
(I'm still trying to figure out how he gets a mask onto the chicken)

Would Lisa Miller have been treated differently if she had not converted to Christianity, but simply did not want Miss Jenkins in her life? Would the liberal press be more sympathetic to Miss Miller if she was a lesbian who had simply moved on?

And now parenthood has become feeling "as if" you are the child's parent! We don't even need an "emotional bond" between "parent" and child!

What exactly is parenthood to secularists, anyway?

He gets me like that all the time, if it's any consolation!

Yeah, well there are too many times when I've read something similar and the person was being dead serious. It's hard to do reductio ad absurdum in this age.

Lydia:

Chucky, I know quite well where you are coming from: You're uncomfortable with the metaphysical position that this "union" was an utter legal fiction and an abomination and that all custody orders based on it are fundamentally unjust.

You know quite well, huh? You're not even close!!

You act like I'm pro-gay marriage when I am actually anti-government. I don't want the government defining what I can or can't call 'marriage'. (Did you notice the word "can't" - as in the freedom to NOT recognize certain relationships as "marriage"?) It's the legal definition of 'marriage', 'civil union', and 'parent' that is at the base of this mess. Once the government establishes those definitions by law, the courts are bound by them. The trend in this country is toward a recognition of gay unions. We got to this point by giving the government the right and the authority to define such things as 'marriage', 'civil union', and 'parent' in the first place. Once we give ground to the government - we'll never gain it back!

You want to see bogeymen behind everyone who disagrees with you Lydia, but I'm actually for YOUR freedom as well! I just realized awhile ago that real freedom comes from government NON-intervention.

The reason I asked the last question ---http://www.ruthblog.org/2012/07/05/my-three-daddies-california-eyes-multiple-parenting-law/

Chucky
The government has to recognise some relationships, surely? It has to take a position on metaphysical issues...the sanctity of life, for example, personal identity...
some things you just don't get to be neutral on.

Graham

Same-sex "marriage" is a subterfuge by the left in an effort to normalize homosexuality in America. It has worked to great advantage in Scandinavia. If homosexuality becomes "normal" in America it will drive a wedge further into the parenthood function of traditional marriage. There are fewer people getting marriied today with the idea of having several children. This has led to a decline in our ability, as a nation, to repopulate our country in sufficient numbers to carry forward our culture. Abortion exacerbates this problem as well. But, the prospect of homosexuals bearing children as mentioned in the story is expensive and would lead to further decline in our population. This does not even speak to the moral decline of a nation gone off-keel. It is the road to hell.

Graham, I think the answer to your question is that the media might have been a *tiny* bit more sympathetic, but maybe not, if Lisa Miller weren't a Christian, and that the law would have treated her just as badly as it has. Lesbians aren't allowed to "move on," you see, if they've entered into a "civil union" and had a baby. (Plus, she might not have had the strength to weather the storm even as far as she had if she hadn't been a Christian.)

Graham, I'm actually not the Masked Chicken. We all miss him!

The parenthesis messed up my link. This is the article I meant to refer to:

http://radarradio.net/blog/fear-and-love

Dear Lydia,

I just wanted to thank you for your consistent (and very clear and intelligent) defense of the truth regarding the "life issues."

And for your refreshing refusal to play the "civility" game--the appeal to civility is so often just a device for blunting the edge of prophecy.

Prophecy is a big word, I know, but, as you point out, "this is not a game." We're going to need at least a double portion of Pastor Miller's spirit, I'm afraid.

Respectfully,
Adrian

Homosexuals do that because they are trying to make us play their game, to pretend that the homosexual civil union *really was* tantamount to a marriage and that in any meaningful sense whatsoever Janet Jenkins *really is* Isabella's mother. All of which is utterly false. Janet Jenkins has *no* claim of any kind on Isabella based on the fact that at the time of Isabella's birth Jenkins was engaged in a lesbian sexual relationship with Miller, a relationship which *could not* have produced a child, but which happened to have a positive-law recognition by the State of Vermont. The common law tradition that a married husband is prima facie the father of a child born in the marriage was, of course, a result of the fact that a man and a woman really can produce a child together, so prima facie it was to be taken that a child born _in_ the union was born _of_ the union. This is utterly irrelevant to lesbian couples and has been ported over as part of the insane and futile attempt by homosexual activists to pretend that reality is other than it is.

This is what happens when you marry a legal fiction (homosexual marriage) with the reality of a perverse legal system governing marriage and divorce issues. Miller is now finding out what many men experience on a regular basis at the hands of a family court system which won't uphold their rights. While the homosexual angle on the story is an interesting nuance, this whole case would even be possible were it not for the fact that a long time ago family law was politicized to punish men for the eeeeeevil treatment women allegedly suffered en masse at the hands of The Patriarchy(tm). The cat was let out of the bag decades ago; it's now just crapping on the floor and scratching up the furniture with abandon.

Well, we went 'round the barn on this two years ago, Mike, and I'll just refer both you and others to my comments there, because I don't have time to re-type them. Of course our general system of family law is very messed up. But actually this is apples and oranges to the injustices you note concerning men and marriage. If anything, were this a divorce involving a man and a woman, where the man was the child's father, and were Jenkins a dolphin, I mean, a man, and not a sexual pervert, either, the judge's initial demands on Miller (just some unsupervised visits) might have been regarded as mild. Even so, had the child shown distress and made the allegations that were made, that would have to be taken into proper account, which the judge did not do.

Moreover, the homosexual angle is not just a nuance. The union had *no natural meaning whatsoever* and Jenkins has *no claim on Isabella whatsoever*. This is an absolute metaphysical difference between a case of a married mother and father who divorce and this case. It's very far from being a mere nuance.

On the contrary, it IS a game. A very rarefied and corrupted game played by mentally deranged specialists with the time on their hands and the bloody-mindedness to be tedious rules-lawyers to the nth degree for the sake of victory(what D&D players refer to as 'munchkins' or 'min/maxers.') Much money and space has been granted to those who play the game well, and pleas for human reasonability fall on ears as deaf to human universals as the ears of stat hounds to pleas for authenticity, versimilitude, or believability in a character (the type whose spreadsheet-designed skillsets demand a backstory that couldn't possibly exist, and could match no human in memory or on the silver screen. Except maybe Nicholas Cage, but he'll play anyone weird.)

The spirit that leads someone to eschew playing a wizard or a warrior in favor of a half-orc half-elf half-tank half-caster quarter-DPS herb-gatherer is the same as one that demands recognition of lesbian surrogate liberal domestic partnered careerists. For all the temporary utility they may provide in the campaign of the moment, no one is in danger of hearing the history behind their increasingly bizarre set of characteristics outside of someone forcing them to hear it.

(Keep such people and such stories away from children, by extralegal force if necessary.)

Well, DM, you do have a point, except that real people get hurt, sent to federal pen., and sent out fleeing to Nicaragua.

In my previous thread on this, which got very long, I was appalled to see people (and not necessarily homosexual activists, either), arguing that the judge's orders must be obeyed simply because they existed. I pressed this with one commentator and asked him whether he would turn over his children to a random homosexual couple if the state passed a law and held a lottery assigning the children of random heterosexual couples to random homosexual couples to increase "family diversity" in the country. After many comments in which he didn't answer the question directly, he acknowledged that he would do so. He acknowledged this in a slightly roundabout way, by first saying that he would have turned over escaped slaves to their masters under the Fugitive Slave Act, because it was The Law, and then saying that if he would countenance the "greater injustice" I might surmised that he would countenance the "lesser injustice." Whether and why the crazy game-like scenario I sketched should be regarded as a "lesser injustice" than the Fugitive Slave Act is not precisely obvious to me, but the legalism to the point of insanity *is* obvious. Let no one defy a court order, though the heavens fall. Except that that wasn't how the saying was supposed to go...

If anything, were this a divorce involving a man and a woman, where the man was the child's father, and were Jenkins a dolphin, I mean, a man, and not a sexual pervert, either, the judge's initial demands on Miller (just some unsupervised visits) might have been regarded as mild. Even so, had the child shown distress and made the allegations that were made, that would have to be taken into proper account, which the judge did not do.

Methinks you think far too highly of the judges that oversee these cases. It is very common to hear of women who absolutely, positively should not be given custody of the child get custody. And I do not mean that they are the lesser of the two evils either among the potential biological parental guardians before the court. I remember one case from Georgia that had a lot of people snidely commenting on the judge who said he'd never give a father preferential custody because he "ain't ever heard of no calf following a bull."

Just like that. No father in his jurisdiction could ever expect a reasonably custody hearing unless maybe the mother was a known madame to pedophiles or a "recruiter" for the Lord's Resistance Army.

In general, conservatives, especially conservative women, plug their ears toward how bad things have really gotten in general society with regard to the family courts.

After many comments in which he didn't answer the question directly, he acknowledged that he would do so. He acknowledged this in a slightly roundabout way, by first saying that he would have turned over escaped slaves to their masters under the Fugitive Slave Act, because it was The Law, and then saying that if he would countenance the "greater injustice" I might surmised that he would countenance the "lesser injustice."

Your mistake was in not asking him if he would murder someone in cold blood if the law required it. There is precedent for that. "Enemies of the state" in the Roman Republic were to be murdered by any patriotic citizen who found them. But still, the point stands.

This is one of my main problems with "law and order" types. They don't understand that the law is nothing more than a framework for achieving a well-ordered, just society. If enforcing the law as written would not do that, indeed if it would cause a disturbance to the peace and injustice, it is better to ignore the law. The law is just a means to an end. It gains you nothing if you "uphold the law" and the result is you so thoroughly enrage the public that they riot or plot revolution.

Suppose woman A has a child with man B. Man B expresses no desire to raise the child, and the two go their separate ways.
Woman then moves in with man C for a number of years. They split up.
Man C then demands access to the child.
On what planet does C have a legal right to access?
B would have stronger rights, surely?


In general, conservatives, especially conservative women, plug their ears toward how bad things have really gotten in general society with regard to the family courts.

No, Mike, I haven't plugged my ears to anything. My point was simply that merely ordering some unsupervised visits to a non-custodial parent, who is really a parent, where there is nothing else against that parent, would not be in itself such a big deal. It wasn't even joint custody at first. (Then later the judge got punitive and ordered full custody.) However, in this case granting unsupervised visits to Jenkins *was* a big deal, inter alia, because Jenkins wasn't a parent, couldn't have been a parent, and had no rights to unsupervised visits with the child at all. I made no statement whatsoever about how bad things are or aren't or what is or isn't done by family courts. I have known of a family court decision in which a *father* was given visitation rights despite credible allegations of serious physical abuse by the father. Family courts do all kinds of crazy things. I was making no general statement that family courts are generally good or sensible.

Lydia,

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine some weeks ago in which we were discussing these "marriage" issues and child custody.

I held that homosexual lovers who have adopted children can't be thought of as parents in the same sense as heterosexuals who have sired children. He came back at me with questions regarding the idea of adoption, asking, "Can adults who adopt a child really be treated as the child's parents, then?"

This stymied me.

I've seen in the meta how you effectively split the parental claim of Jenkins away from that of Miller by appealing to the nature of reality vis a vis the siring of children. So how do you parse adoption? Do adoptive parents have rights equal to those of "true" parents? Do not then homosexual lovers who adopt have the same right?

My point was simply that merely ordering some unsupervised visits to a non-custodial parent, who is really a parent, where there is nothing else against that parent, would not be in itself such a big deal.

If a husband or wife adopted their spouse's child from a previous marriage as their own, you would have a similar issue. Non-custodial, non-biological parent who nevertheless had a legal claim to visitation rights by virtue of adoption. If Jenkins did not adopt, that would be problematic. However, I think what the law is attempting to do here is apply some form of presumed paternity to a homosexual couple. You can go on as much as you want about how it's a legal fiction, but as I've said to you before: this is a legal fiction which many Serious and Intelligent Men And Women, many of whom have guns and authority (or can boss around those with guns and authority), fervently believe. They are committed to making this legal fiction feasible. However, it is part of a larger, perverse system.

If Jenkins did not adopt, that would be problematic.

That is correct, she did not adopt.

I think what the law is attempting to do here is apply some form of presumed paternity to a homosexual couple.

Yes, that's what they were doing legally, and here is where I'm going to "go on as much as I like," because obviously she *couldn't have presumed paternity*, because two women can't have sexual intercourse and make a baby by that means! So it's an utterly grotesque application of presumed paternity.

You're darned tootin' they are committed to making this legal fiction feasible, but it hasn't happened _all_ across the fruited plains yet, and the more people stop and think about situations like that of Lisa Miller, the more they will have the opportunity to realize for themselves just how horrible, perverse, and harmful it is to treat two women or two men as married to one another.

Mr. Fosi,

Legally, adoption has a lot of weight. This is one reason why I oppose homosexuals' adopting. It allows them to create fake families that have no natural structure to them, as a male-female adoptive couple has.

In the case of Miller and Jenkins, however, Jenkins did not adopt, so there was not even that legal excuse for her pursuit of Miller.

Instead, the fact that the homosexual agenda is a war with reality was made particularly evident in the very legal structure of the case: As Mike T. has guessed, the attempt was to apply to Jenkins the common-law idea of "presumed paternity." In presumed paternity, the husband of a married woman who gives birth to a child is considered to be the child's father. I think presumed paternity is not only good but very important. It means that a normal husband and father doesn't have to adopt his own children in order to have parental rights! However, it's quite obvious that the whole reason for presumed paternity arose from the fact that the husband of the child's mother *really could physically be the child's father*. To apply the doctrine of "presumed paternity" to another _woman_ is a kind of grotesque bad joke. Jenkins cannot possibly be Isabella's biological parent by means of sexual intercourse with Miller; hence, there is no possible rationale for applying the doctrine of presumed paternity. The attempt to apply it here was sheerly part of the ideology that lies behind civil unions: Namely, that they are *legally identical* to marriage in all but name. (And this is one point of my main post: Don't let anybody tell you that legally recognized civil unions are really okay and that it's only applying the name "marriage" that is the problem.) Hence, the lesbian partner of the real mother automatically has "maternity" over the child and parental rights in case of a legal divorce!

Insane. Utterly insane.

Now, you may want to raise the separate question of what a court should do in a case where there has been a lesbian couple adopting, where, say, both members are adoptive parents, and there is a breakup. I think it would depend on how much leeway the law allowed the court in considering the presumptive or expected sexual behavior of each member of the couple in relation to the child's best interests. If one has left the lesbian lifestyle and is celibate, that should be a point in that one's favor as far as providing a good atmosphere for the child to grow up in. Whether a judge with a good conscience simply had to recuse himself in homosexual custody fights or whether he could find a way under the law to craft at least a situation of bare decency for the child would depend upon the laws in his particular state. To a fairly large extent, family courts have had a lot of leeway to consider the "best interests of the child." However, that might have been undermined in a particular state by laws against "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" (which also includes behavior).

As a rule of thumb, except in unusual cases (e.g., where a much older sibling needs to adopt a child in order to provide legal protection for the child or something), adoption should be set up as much as possible to appear to be natural parenthood. This means one man, one woman, married to each other. This provides a natural family structure for the child. While it's true that the parents are not the child's biological parents, they should be the kind of couple that appear to be the child's biological parents.

In the case of homosexual adoption, a terrible injustice has been done to the child. How that injustice could later be rectified is not by any means an easy question to answer. It would depend on what changes in the law occurred, the age of the child, and the behavior of the homosexual individual or couple in question. I certainly do believe that there are situations where it would be just, if it were possible, to take even older children, traumatic though that would be, from people who are living a life of sexual debauchery. But of course the trauma to the child of the separation (as well as the alternatives available) would have to be taken into account.

Of course, here, the issues of familiarity and trust all went the other way. Lisa Miller is both the only mother Isabella has ever known and also her biological mother. The judge was attempting to wrest the child from Miller and give her to Jenkins, a stranger she disliked and feared from the few times she had been forced to spend weekends with her.

That's what I was getting at - how does "presumed paternity" enter this case?

Simply because they were "in" a state-recognized civil union at the time that baby Isabella was born. She was conceived using sperm from a sperm donor. In common law (which I assume is the same way in the UK and has been incorporated into American family law), if a man and a woman are married at the time that the woman gives birth to a baby, the man is presumptively the baby's father. He automatically has joint custody with no further paperwork to fill out, and if there is a subsequent divorce, he is considered a parent equal to the mother. Obviously, I have no problem with this in the case of a man and woman for reasons I've already spelled out. That is being applied here because Jenkins and Miller had contracted a Vermont civil union, and that civil union was in place at the time that Isabella was born. The legal breakup of the union (tantamount to a legal divorce) took place when Isabella was about a year and a half old. Hence, Isabella is being treated as a "child of the union" which is like a "child of the marriage" (where there is a marriage), and this is how Jenkins acquired legal parental rights to Isabella.

Graham:

The government has to recognize some relationships, surely? It has to take a position on metaphysical issues...the sanctity of life, for example, personal identity... some things you just don't get to be neutral on.

The less the better - that's all I'm saying.

Once we let the beast in the door, it won't leave without a fight. And, though we may whole-heartedly support government intervention in an area, we are NEVER guaranteed that the government will always see that issue our way.

Look at what's happening: we have given the government the final say in marriage, parenting, and family issues. We did this because 'marriage' was 'marriage'; 'parents' were 'parents'; and 'a family' was 'a family'. But then, little by little, the government began to change the definitions so that those things don't mean what they once did. But we can't take it back now - we've already surrendered that authority to the government!

Every power we give the government means a loss of liberty. So we must weigh the loss of liberty versus the gain in order or security - and (this is key) we must do so with the "worst case scenario" in mind. We must ask: "if we give up this right, what can the government do to US?" Sure, there has to be some government, but we seem to be conditioned in this country to immediately look to the government to "do something" (i.e. take control) of some problem. It's the frog in slow-boil.

Chucky:

A government is bound to have an interest in marriage, it's civil institution (as well as a natural and sacred union.)

By giving a tax break to married couples, even the tax law of the UK used to recognize and encourage marriage as a stabilizing ballast in society. That is no longer the case. The tax break was whittled away as an "anomaly" by Kenneth Clarke as Chancellor in the government led by John Major. Now a cohabiting couple can be better off than a married couple because tax allowances are not transferable.

After I told you that this was a game, I received an assurance that it wasn't, followed by lots and lots of frenzied rule suggestions.

A game is fundamentally a set of rules. Without the rules, there is no game. The consequences for failure don't change the nature of the game.

You seem somewhat confused in your path, so let me tell you what a serious person would hear when someone says: "This is not a game."

This is not an issue that can be truly decided by rules, or by impartial and uninterested parties. This is a personal issue, and only those persons involved should handle it.

And yet I hear nothing but demand for more rules, fewer rules, rule tweaks, strategic cheating, strategic noncompliance, new universal standards, old universal standards, and all the various and sundry tactics that indicate one is not only playing the game but demanding that we all drop what we're doing and play the game with you.

Here's a better response: The existence and operation of "family courts" is an abomination to anyone with a sense of the sacred and permanent things. They are a game no one should play, and we should properly understand those who make a living in their service as either greedy or of subhuman understanding.

Look, DM, there will always be custody disputes.

I don't know what you mean by a "serious person," but what _I_ meant by the title, as I made clear, was, "The homosexual activists aren't fooling around. This is serious stuff. Don't take this lightly." I was referring to the extreme persecution both of Lisa Miller and of Pastor Kenneth Miller and anyone else who helped Lisa Miller to escape. How many people are there, even among conservatives, who just don't want to think about the homosexual agenda, much less fight it? Too many. I was interviewed on a talk radio show a few years ago, and the host asked me if I opposed civil unions as well as homosexual "marriage." When I said I did and cited this case, he told me later, off-microphone, that some of his other guests were shocked at how conservative I am. Evidently around those parts (this was a local conservative radio show in Arizona) being "conservative" means supporting civil unions! But the facts of the case speak for themselves. Civil unions aren't just about "letting people do what they want." Just the opposite, in fact. Lisa Miller wasn't left alone to do what she wanted. She was hounded out of the country! Pastor Kenneth Miller wasn't left alone to do what he wanted. He's going to federal prison!

My post was yet another in a series of wakeup calls. We conservatives cannot ignore this issue. This is an agenda run by people who take it with deadly seriousness and who want us moral traditionalists outta here.

The word "game" may of course be defined as an activity with a set of rules, etc.

However, it is commonly used also to mean "play" -- something that is not for real, that doesn't have serious real-life consequences. Most people would fully understand that Lydia was using this common meaning in a common phrase to make an important point.

Lydia,

First, thanks for writing this. In fact you have a real good knack for focusing on, highlighting, and discussing cases that are extremely important and all too often overlooked. I agree entirely with the sentiments you express here.

I'd like to ask one thing, however. What should be done about this? What courses of action - legal, intellectual, protest, or otherwise - should be done, in your opinion?

To begin with, Vermont should rescind its civil union statute. So should all other states that have one. It goes without saying that homosexual "marriage" should never be passed anywhere, and that states that have passed it should rescind it. All states shd. pass a state constitutional amendment defending marriage *that also blocks civil unions*. Ideally, the states would get cracking and pass a similar amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Meanwhile, state legislatures should pass laws allowing sexual turpitude, including homosexual activity, to be taken into account by family law judges in granting custody--as being prima facie contrary to the best interests of the child.

All homosexual special rights ordinances forbidding "discrimination" on the basis of "sexual orientation" should be immediately repealed, as these force granting adoption to homosexuals. (Not that adoption came up in this case, but it does in others, of course.)


Etc.

If you meant concerning Lisa Miller and Pastor Kenneth Miller, I suggest that we petition the relevant board/person to grant clemency immediately to Pastor Miller so as to avoid any jail sentence for him. (Unfortunately, since it's a federal crime, this may be President Obama, which is probably hopeless.)

I also suggest that we all stiffen our spines and think about what we would do and whether we would help someone in Lisa Miller's case.

We should, of course, pray earnestly that God would protect Pastor Miller. I can hardly bear to think of his being sent into the atmosphere of today's prisons. There is not much we can do for Lisa Miller herself directly right now other than prayer.

We might also consider contributing to pro bono legal organizations such as those that represented Lisa Miller over the long haul. (I can look that up, if there is interest.)

It wouldn't be a bad idea to pressure the Romney campaign to make a statement that a Romney DOJ would not pursue people in Miller's and Miller's situation, though it's probably too much to hope that the campaign would respond positively.

And the next time some RINO or CINO suggests to you that it's just homosexual "marriage" you need to oppose and not civil unions, that the latter are no biggie, have this case *firmly* filed away in your head to bring up in reply.

Meanwhile, state legislatures should pass laws allowing sexual turpitude, including homosexual activity, to be taken into account by family law judges in granting custody--as being prima facie contrary to the best interests of the child.

Unless it were mandated, it wouldn't accomplish anything. A better approach would be to require that all moral turpitude that is provable by at least a preponderance of the evidence would be put on the table. Whichever parent has the least would get the custody unless one of their points would present a clear and present danger to the child's safety. I would go so far as to say that in such a situation, if the other spouse had more than 3 points against them (adultery, verbal abusiveness, etc. for example) the state should either put the child into a relative's custody or put them up for adoption.

I would add that in some states like Virginia, adultery is almost impossible to prove. You have to actually have evidence of sexual acts ranging from walking in on it, to photographic. You could have literally 20 years of hotel receipts showing your spouse spent one night a week with another person and it wouldn't be usable.

The problem here, Mike, is that too many states have laws according to which homosexual activity *could not* be treated as moral turpitude. I'll go out on a limb and say that it would be *more* probable that heterosexual immorality such as adultery will return as something countable against custody than that homosexual behavior will ever be in the foreseeable future of the country. That's because heterosexual adulterers are not a specially protected class in law, whereas in many states, and increasingly by sheer bureaucratic executive fiat at the federal level, homosexuals are.

Alex:

A government is bound to have an interest in marriage, it's civil institution (as well as a natural and sacred union.)

I would dispute the "bound to" part of your statement - since not all governments are interested in marriage (at least I'm assuming that there are governments that take no interest in it - I might be wrong.)

Just as a case in point - has the federal government of this country always recognized marriage? Or was there a time in our history when marriage was a non-government matter? (I honestly don't know!) I'm going to guess that before there was a federal income tax, there was probably no federal recognition of marriage. I probably should research this but I'm assuming that, with all the history buffs here, someone will tell me if I'm right about that!

Mike T:

A better approach would be to require that all moral turpitude that is provable by at least a preponderance of the evidence would be put on the table. Whichever parent has the least would get the custody unless one of their points would present a clear and present danger to the child's safety. I would go so far as to say that in such a situation, if the other spouse had more than 3 points against them (adultery, verbal abusiveness, etc. for example) the state should either put the child into a relative's custody or put them up for adoption.

You see, this is EXACTLY what I'm trying to warn people about - the tendency to want the government to "do something" (i.e. "take control") of a problem!

Do you really want the government to decide what constitutes "moral turpitude"? I can easily envision a government defined "moral turpitude" list that has such things as "diversity" and "tolerance" on it. How about you?

So go ahead and advocate for a government enforced "moral turpitude" standard, but be prepared for how far 'what we end up with' is from 'what you had in mind'!

Adoption is humanity's way to care for those who cannot be cared for by those who are obligated, by NATURE, to care for them.

A minor quibble, but I think the term "biology" should be used here in stead of "nature". Because I think the history of adoption before it had such a defined legal status shows that adoption is natural to humankind. Man the rational animal has non-biological ties that as natural to humankind as the biological. Non-biological does not mean non-natural.

You see, this is EXACTLY what I'm trying to warn people about - the tendency to want the government to "do something" (i.e. "take control") of a problem!

Chucky: I guess your unease about the government intruding in matters of personal autonomy - even in domestic arrangements such as marriage - might described as an 'all-American view'.

Over here, in the UK, people have been socially conditioned to complain that the government doesn't interfere enough in private life ! (Remember we have a 'nursemaid state'.)

Though I tend to favour your point of view, I still believe the Inland Revenue should give a tax break to married couples.

Do you really want the government to decide what constitutes "moral turpitude"? I can easily envision a government defined "moral turpitude" list that has such things as "diversity" and "tolerance" on it. How about you?

You make it sound like we aren't already there. Try speaking directly against homosexuality in most corporate workplaces and you'll find out quickly that the government considers you a deviant who is unworthy of protection under wrongful termination statutes, among other things. Might even bust your cajones for creating a hostile work environment while they're at it.

You see, this is EXACTLY what I'm trying to warn people about - the tendency to want the government to "do something" (i.e. "take control") of a problem!

If the default action we must take is to wring our hands about how some bureaucrat, somewhere might somehow do something bad then there would be literally no justification for any government at all. It's easy to pretend that there is some core government responsibilities which are somehow naturally safer than the rest, but that's a libertarian fantasy. There is literally nothing about government immune to the need for vigilance; it's merely a matter that some things are by nature more prone to needing vigilance than others.

If my blog were still up, I'd point you to a post I wrote about the delusions that so many in the "manosphere" have about how "gettin da gubmint outta marriage" would make things really better overnight. As it isn't, and I don't feel like ripping it out of my database and manually formatting it, I guess I'll have to summarize it.

Guys like you think "gee, if I got the government out of marriage, the threat of force would be mostly gone." This is rubbish for a few key reasons:

1. If it were a civil contract, the state would still be involved as the contract enforcer. If you believe there is no serious threat of coercion here, just go make a serious contract, break it and tell a state judge to go pound sand. See if the Sheriff is laughing when he serves a warrant on your home.

2. If the government doesn't set standards on what contracts are enforceable, we'll get a lot of totally deviant crap like immigrants from Saudi Arabia insisting it's their "constitutional right" to marry four nine year old first cousins. Again, with the "risk of force" since someone with a badge and gun will have to tell them "no."

3. Any given contract enforcement is subject to all of the normal corruption associated with men's issues in the family courts. Turning over child custody rights for men from family courts to civil courts isn't going to address judges who just ignore the law, declare contracts unconscionable for no good reason, refuse to enforce the contract's stipulations against a party in violation, etc.

4. If your ex-wife makes all sorts of crazy accusations about your conduct, that by default goes to the police and criminal courts anyway. If they get too zealous or something like that, then whatever protections you have or don't have are simply part of the normal procedures of protecting the defendant in criminal court. This also applies to restraining orders and things like the police raiding your house to haul you out if your ex-wife makes especially crazy accusations.

There really is nothing insightful about your claims here. Even if we had a night watchman state, there would be special interests trying to make it return to what it is today, fighting over defense allocations under that system and other avenues for corruption. Politics necessarily entails a risk of corruption.

I notice also that you didn't provide your own alternative that would address any of the issues inherent to adjudication in court. I think that's because on some level, you know that the only way to honestly "get the government out of marriage" or anything along those lines necessarily entails denying even civil coverage.

Do you really want the government to decide what constitutes "moral turpitude"? I can easily envision a government defined "moral turpitude" list that has such things as "diversity" and "tolerance" on it. How about you?

I forgot to mention that by your own standard here, there is no logical reason to believe that the government can ever safely determine child custody matters or asset distribution in divorce. A government that cannot even make basic determinations of moral turpitude is so far gone that it probably cannot even effectively run animal control services effectively. I would certainly not trust it to run a criminal court, but then unlike most libertarian-leaning people I despise phrases like "the government cannot enforce morality" because they're dishonest.

There's no point in arguing with Chucky D., Mike. I decided long ago that he thinks his libertarian caricature slogans solve anything. And imagination is not his strong suit. Were this not a family site, I could no doubt dream up a scenario or two that would bring a blush to his cheek and that he would have to admit constitute a form of moral turpitude that should be relevant to child custody--that is, that it would be a problem for a child to be left in the custody of a person doing those things. However, I don't intend to try, for many reasons, one of which is that it would get me nowhere with him.

Chucky, like most libertarians, doesn't seem to understand that even the most basic law enforcement functions are constantly corrupted. The reason I am so "anti-law enforcement" is precisely because I am so radically opposed to how little counter-balance our system makes possible against corrupt cops, prosecutors and judges. When you read a lot of civil liberties news, you see all the time where they simply decide to not enforce the law as written and/or find the wildest excuses for behavior that no rational person would defend. Cases like this are a testament that sometimes it literally doesn't matter at all what the law is--the people involved won't actually follow it until a superior authority (or a mob outside the courthouse) brings down the hammer on them.

Of course, it does the public no service by saying that the government cannot get involved here because you then absolve it of having to make prudential considerations and being accountable. But I question whether or not Chucky really means what he implies when he says "get the government out of it." Getting the government out of something means only one thing: eliminated jurisdiction. I don't think Chucky would be too happy if a judge told him that he had no standing to adjudicate a dispute over money or custody with his wife because the legislature had abolished all civil access on the issue.

I might add to this discussion that had it been a man and woman it is nearly impossible for a father to get custody of a child from a biological mother unless she is unfit ie.. a heroin addicted prostitute. because the courts have always recognized the rights of the biological mother as tantamount.... in this case however that is ignored in lieu of propagating an agenda..... so sad

Jim, I don't claim to have a lot of experience with family courts, but my impression is that judges tend to be control freaks. I suppose that if a judge ordered some unsupervised visits with even a father, and the mother started refusing to allow them, to the point of paying fines, just defying the court orders, over a period of years, the judge might decide to do something drastic "just to show her."

For that matter, some judges do (scandalously) ignore evidence that one parent is abusive or that a child is upset by visits, so even that might have happened in a heterosexual situation.

I'm not entirely sure that this case actually _has_ been treated much differently from the way that the judge would treat a heterosexual custody case. My claim is that the draconian behavior has arisen because it _has_ been treated like a heterosexual custody case, cum judicial arrogance, control-freakishness, and recklessness. However, these characteristics might come up in heterosexual cases as well. In other words, the judge _could_ have treated Lisa Miller better even within the legal fiction that the civil union was a marriage, and we don't definitely know why he didn't. Was it because of a commitment to the gay agenda or just because he was a family law judge being a total jerk and more interested in proving a point about his authority (namely "You have to do what I say") than in doing what was best for the child?

Once that legal fiction of a civil union is in place, all bets are off as to whether children will be treated well if one person, even the biological mother, tries to leave. Which is why that legal fiction should never be put in place. In terms of nature and common sense, this should never have been a custody case at all, which is what makes the whole thing so obscene.

. . . even the most basic law enforcement functions are constantly corrupted. The reason I am so "anti-law enforcement" is precisely because I am so radically opposed to how little counter-balance our system makes possible against corrupt cops, prosecutors and judges.

But it isn't just that laws generally get corrupted, it is that we have vague and expansive federal laws that shouldn't be on the books, that well-meaning federal prosecutors then exploit to put away what they think are bad guys, and some of them are, but over time these these increasingly vague and expansive federal laws get applied to people who did nothing wrong. Now most of us have done something wrong on this vague standard and all you have to do is turn up on someone's list of interest since they can likely find a crime you've committed if they just look. Or if not they can find something you've done wrong in the course of the investigation, such as lying to them to prosecute.

http://www.amazon.com/Three-Felonies-Day-Target-Innocent/dp/1594032556

And the shame of it is most people will believe it. Just ask Martha Stewart. I heard a top Christian name you'd all know in person preaching to an audience about a supposed crisis in ethics and said this to make a point: "Martha Stewart is a liiiaaaarrrrrr." I asked him afterwards if he knew any details about what she lied about or why, and he didn't. This guy is a wildly successful businessman. He told me "I only meant she was convicted of lying." So the rest of us non-convicted liars can always look down at the convicted ones I guess. Most people do take an authority's judgement on moral questions to be reasonable on its face. The problem isn't so much that as an out-of-control legal system.

Well, we're getting a bit afield at this point. The laws in this case were the state laws of Vermont. In the end, though Miller fled to Virginia, the courts decided that the custody laws and family courts of Vermont had jurisdiction. So no federal laws were involved, though one might have hoped DOMA might have had some relevance in defense of Miller, but nope.

Alex:

Over here, in the UK, people have been socially conditioned to complain that the government doesn't interfere enough in private life ! (Remember we have a 'nursemaid state'.)

We are not far behind. You'll see by what follows that Americans are quick to demand government intervention into virtually every area of our lives.

Mike T:

You make it sound like we aren't already there. Try speaking directly against homosexuality in most corporate workplaces and you'll find out quickly that the government considers you a deviant who is unworthy of protection under wrongful termination statutes, among other things. Might even bust your cajones for creating a hostile work environment while they're at it.

That was my point Mike! You are the one who wants the government to have a "moral turpitude" standard - not me!!

The rest of your post consists of a list of the evils of government at all levels - yet you are the one arguing FOR government! I don't get it.

I notice also that you didn't provide your own alternative that would address any of the issues inherent to adjudication in court. I think that's because on some level, you know that the only way to honestly "get the government out of marriage" or anything along those lines necessarily entails denying even civil coverage.

The reason I haven't provided an example is because I'm not sure how such a system would work. Probably the best examples of what I would envision would have to come from early American history - before our government got out of control. How were custody cases handled in early America (say 1700-1800)? I don't know myself but I'm assuming the government had far less say in the matter. Perhaps these things were handled by families, churches, etc?

A government that cannot even make basic determinations of moral turpitude is so far gone that it probably cannot even effectively run animal control services effectively. I would certainly not trust it to run a criminal court, but then unlike most libertarian-leaning people I despise phrases like "the government cannot enforce morality" because they're dishonest.

We are getting closer to what you describe all the time. And the argument is not that the government cannot enforce morality, it's that you can't legislate morality. Laws don't make us moral. In fact the Apostle Paul made the opposite claim - that the law shows our immorality.

Chucky, like most libertarians, doesn't seem to understand that even the most basic law enforcement functions are constantly corrupted.

You seem to be under the impression that I'm arguing for more laws and more law enforcement. The fact that even the most basic law enforcement functions are constantly corrupted is reason for less laws and less law enforcement!

Well, we're getting a bit afield at this point. The laws in this case were the state laws of Vermont. In the end, though Miller fled to Virginia, the courts decided that the custody laws and family courts of Vermont had jurisdiction. So no federal laws were involved, though one might have hoped DOMA might have had some relevance in defense of Miller, but nope.

I don't understand this, so I'm not arguing but asking for some explanation. I understand it was state law that triggered all this, but was it not a federal jury in a federal courthouse with federal prosecutors arguing for the a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Kidnapping_Act">federal crime of kidnapping?

Also, it is significant to recognize that if the pastor's lawyers argument that he didn't know that what he did was against the law was deemed irrelevant, that departs from centuries of common law practice that society only punishes those who intentionally, rather than inadvertently, violate the law, upheld by SCOTUS in Morisette v. United States in 1951. If this common law tradition is no longer even expected, we no longer have much left of a defensible free society no matter what else is going on.

Also, it is significant to recognize that if the pastor's lawyers argument that he didn't know that what he did was against the law was deemed irrelevant, that departs from centuries of common law practice that society only punishes those who intentionally, rather than inadvertently, violate the law, upheld by SCOTUS in Morisette v. United States in 1951.

Mark, I think that is the wrong reading. Equal centuries of common law declare "ignorance of the law is no excuse". I think the difference is when the law itself defines the crime in terms of knowledge. In Morisette, the crime was "to knowingly convert" federal property. If knowledge is in the definition of the crime, then ignorance is a valid excuse. Other laws don't define the crime in terms of knowledge: if you take someone captive against their will, but you don't know that "taking someone captive" also goes by the name "kidnapping", you are still guilty of kidnapping.

The question really is in the "against their will" part, which is more murky. When the victim is a child, presumably "against their will" can be determined either in terms of the child's will or the will of their lawful guardian (so the kidnapper who draws the kid away by promises of candy is a kidnapper even though the kid goes willingly).

I have no problem with the _existence_ of federal kidnapping laws, if the child is taken across state lines. It's not as though some new, intrinsically problematic federal law had to be written to support the prosecution in this case. I think one could make an argument for either a) the use of prosecutorial discretion not to apply federal kidnapping laws in cases such as this or b) the applicability of DOMA to support non-prosecution when the custody in question is being granted on the basis of a simulacrum of marriage that does not meet the one-man-one-woman definition of DOMA. Certainly if, as I think should be the case, a federal marriage amendment to the Constitution were passed, no such federal kidnapping laws would apply in these cases.

The rest of your post consists of a list of the evils of government at all levels - yet you are the one arguing FOR government! I don't get it.

You don't get it because like most libertarians you think you can just strip down government to the barest of bones and it'll be maintainable. Government at all levels, at all times and places is subject to corruption and specifically corruption that has a threat of force behind it. Minimizing government is a prudential consideration; vigilance is always necessary even with "good government." Most libertarians believe that with a night watchman state we'd end up with little corruption. I would agree only insofar as it would mean the opportunities would be fewer. However, there would always be elements fighting to corrupt whatever is there and return us to this status quo.

How were custody cases handled in early America (say 1700-1800)? I don't know myself but I'm assuming the government had far less say in the matter. Perhaps these things were handled by families, churches, etc?

Well, for one there was a tremendously higher tolerance for extra-legal enforcement of the rules. Most libertarians are totally cool with "going back to the good old days right up until they realize that back then your wife's father had a socially-accepted right to initiate force against his son-in-law if he abandoned/abused/cheated on his daughter. It worked mainly because no one gave a hoot if your-father-in-law beat you or even killed you for that behavior.

We are getting closer to what you describe all the time. And the argument is not that the government cannot enforce morality, it's that you can't legislate morality. Laws don't make us moral. In fact the Apostle Paul made the opposite claim - that the law shows our immorality.

Oh for Heaven's sake, I wasn't even hinting at that. Neither was Lydia. Laws cannot change intentions, only behaviors. However, they can also provide a framework for adjudicating things peacefully. That is what is being described here. A process for theoretically forcing moral turpitude to be considered when evaluating who deserves custody.

You seem to be under the impression that I'm arguing for more laws and more law enforcement. The fact that even the most basic law enforcement functions are constantly corrupted is reason for less laws and less law enforcement!

Not even remotely. I'm claiming that you're doing what most libertarians do on this subject which is raise all sorts of hypothetical problems, claim we're doomed, doomed, DOOMED if the government is involved because government is inherently corrupt and all that. Then you do so while ignoring that this line of argument cuts even to the most fundamental responsibilities of government that libertarians enthusiastically support like prosecuting suspected murderers. A government that cannot be trusted to reasonably well handle the divorce matters we described here cannot possibly be trusted with basic criminal law enforcement because the latter is substantially more complex and dangerous if corrupted.

What I'm saying is that you need to realize that government can be constrained, generally, by well-written laws. Well-written laws do a few things:

1. They provide a framework for good people in government to work consistently.
2. They provide a framework for identifying bad people in government because they make it easy to identify who is breaking the law in government.
3. By virtue of their simplicity and reasonableness, provide a moral argument for the condemnation of those who fit #2 and help build a bright line test for when civil disobedience and even revolution are justified.

Mike T:

I'm claiming that you're doing what most libertarians do on this subject which is raise all sorts of hypothetical problems, claim we're doomed, doomed, DOOMED if the government is involved because government is inherently corrupt and all that. Then you do so while ignoring that this line of argument cuts even to the most fundamental responsibilities of government that libertarians enthusiastically support like prosecuting suspected murderers.

I think the argument that even the simplest governments are susceptible to corruption is correct. I don't know of any Libertarian who thinks otherwise though. From what I've seen, Libertarians reluctantly accept even a very limited government - for the very reasons you give. I don't know who these Libertarians are who "enthusiastically support" any government functions!

Most libertarians believe that with a night watchman state we'd end up with little corruption. I would agree only insofar as it would mean the opportunities would be fewer. However, there would always be elements fighting to corrupt whatever is there and return us to this status quo.

The argument I've heard Ron Paul use (in regard to lobbyists - but corruption is always part of the anti-lobbyist argument), and one that you hinted at above, is one of opportunity - a significantly limited government has far less money to throw around so corruption diminishes proportionally.

That said, I just don't get your argument:
1. You say that even the most limited government could turn bad without diligence on our part (totally agree).
2. You acknowledge that libertarians use premise 1 to argue for more limited government (again - total agreement).
3. You then turn and use premise 1 against those who use that very premise as the basis for their argument by claiming that libertarians are somehow blind to the threat of corruption with smaller government (you lose me here!)

It would seem that the consistent argument would be: Because any government is susceptible to corruption, and because a small limited government is easier for the citizenry to control than a large entrenched government is, we should seek the smallest government possible.

Most libertarians are totally cool with "going back to the good old days right up until they realize that back then your wife's father had a socially-accepted right to initiate force against his son-in-law if he abandoned/abused/cheated on his daughter. It worked mainly because no one gave a hoot if your-father-in-law beat you or even killed you for that behavior.

I for one, would not wring my hands over that. I think one needs to be consistent - if you argue for less government, be prepared for what that entails. If the federal and state governments all went completely broke tomorrow, society would have to step up and start keeping order - else we would end up in total anarchy. I think local neighborhoods (under the increased influence of churches and charities that a government collapse would inevitably bring) would be better suited to deal with local crimes (like the father taking care of the deadbeat son-in-law) than the big-government bureaucrats are now.

Oh for Heaven's sake, I wasn't even hinting at that. Neither was Lydia. Laws cannot change intentions, only behaviors. However, they can also provide a framework for adjudicating things peacefully. That is what is being described here. A process for theoretically forcing moral turpitude to be considered when evaluating who deserves custody.

You said that the phrase "the government cannot enforce morality" was "dishonest". I was merely pointing out that that was not the phrase I'd heard (i.e. that "the government cannot legislate morality") and that legislating and enforcing are two different things. You're right - it was just a side issue though.

What I'm saying is that you need to realize that government can be constrained, generally, by well-written laws.

That's the idea, sure - but in practice, laws don't constrain government - they expand it. How often does the government write (much less enforce) laws against itself? It seems, from what we've experienced in this country, that the constitution was written to constrain government and that bureaucrats and legislators have been finding ways to get around that constraint ever since!

I have a coworker who is from Romania and he cannot believe how much government intrusion Americans are willing to blindly accept. He often remarks that "you Americans don't appreciate your freedoms because you haven't had to fight for them". Well, we may have to if this trend continues!

Equal centuries of common law declare "ignorance of the law is no excuse". I think the difference is when the law itself defines the crime in terms of knowledge.

Tony, it isn't clear to me the court isn't defining the crime in terms of knowledge. That was my point. I don't really think the article was very clear or detailed so I'm not sure, but at least his lawyers seem to think they may be defining it at least in part in terms of knowledge.

Miller’s defense maintained he was unaware of court orders related to the custody battle when he helped the woman, Lisa Miller, flee with the girl, Isabella.

So the question is there grounds for a kidnapping charge without the previous court orders, or did the court think the previous charges were necessary for kidnapping but they didn't believe he really didn't know? I think the article none too detailed, so I don't really know. But if the latter that is a departure from common-law practice and troubling, but unfortunately all too common for federal courts to ignore at this point.

I have no problem with the _existence_ of federal kidnapping laws, if the child is taken across state lines.

Sure, but federal prosecutors prosecuting these laws in federal courts have been increasingly ignoring critical common-law precedents for years, and that should scare us all. Once their authority to do this is accepted, I'm not sure it matters that much how much of our moral world-view they share in the end.

Your warnings are well-taken Chucky, at least by me. I understand your fears and share them. I think you go a bit too far though in wanting the government out of marriage and such though. I know many people who argue for this, but I could never understand it. We are the government, and as such getting the government out of marriage means privatizing it in my view. It is a public act, and since we are the government I never really could understand how one could possibly separate marriage from the legal act with public (and thus) governmental participation. I think it is easy to think of the government as other, but at its most basic it isn't.

"Laws don't make us moral."

Not so simple. The individual conscience is formed, to some extent, by the positive laws of the nation and to a larger extent by the unwritten laws, customs and mores of the nation.

That would explain why dog-eating is immoral to Americans and cow-eating to Hindus.

Chucky Darwin,
"local neighborhoods would be better suited to deal with local crimes "

In other words, a neighborhood government. So your problem is not with Govt per se, but with an overly centralized Govt.

Pardon me as I try to drum up a little business for Zippy's blog, as he has an entry related to this topic: http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/libertarianism-and-the-tyranny-of-contract/

This willful blindness manifests itself in the language used under libertarian auspices. How often do we hear the issue of enforcing contracts between sodomites-qua-sodomites phrased as “allowing gays to marry?” The passive libertarian language of “allowing” deliberately conceals the reality; for what is advocated is not mere passivity. What is advocated at the most basic level is for society to enforce certain kinds of legal contracts, even though those legal contracts are grossly immoral. The passive language “allow gays to marry” is a lie. Enforcing contracts is an activity of government (not a passivity), and it is impossible to decide what to actively enforce and what not to actively enforce without making substantive judgements about the good. Substantive judgements about the good will necessarily discriminate: every function of governance, including contract enforcement, is an authoritative discrimination of some kind resting on some substantive concept of the good. What makes liberalism (including libertarianism) different from other political views is that liberalism has to make authoritative discriminations resting in a substantive conception of the good while at the same time denying that it is doing so. What makes liberalism different is that it has to lie about itself in order to invoke its own justifying principles, that is, nondiscrimination (equality of rights) and freedom from substantive discriminating authority. We don’t “allow” – that is, actively enforce with police, courts, and jails – just any sort of contract whatsoever, and we shouldn’t. We also shouldn’t allow language to abused that way, because active enforcement of contracts is anything but the live-and-let-live passivity implied by the lying word “allow”.
I don't know of any Libertarian who thinks otherwise though. From what I've seen, Libertarians reluctantly accept even a very limited government - for the very reasons you give. I don't know who these Libertarians are who "enthusiastically support" any government functions!

Then you've never seen a libertarian attempting to explain why they're not an anarchist to a moderate.

I for one, would not wring my hands over that. I think one needs to be consistent - if you argue for less government, be prepared for what that entails. If the federal and state governments all went completely broke tomorrow, society would have to step up and start keeping order - else we would end up in total anarchy. I think local neighborhoods (under the increased influence of churches and charities that a government collapse would inevitably bring) would be better suited to deal with local crimes (like the father taking care of the deadbeat son-in-law) than the big-government bureaucrats are now.

You would be in the minority of libertarians on this subject, then. Most libertarians are aghast at the idea of a society that openly tolerates heavy and/or lethal force to be used in what they consider "contract disputes." (To most libertarians, a man abandoning his wife and kids and leaving them in the poor house is merely a "marriage contract dispute," not a scandalous behavior warranting the immediate use of force).

That's the idea, sure - but in practice, laws don't constrain government - they expand it. How often does the government write (much less enforce) laws against itself? It seems, from what we've experienced in this country, that the constitution was written to constrain government and that bureaucrats and legislators have been finding ways to get around that constraint ever since!

Laws do not inherently expand government. A law that abolished discretionary arrest authority would not expand government at all. A law which repealed all civil asset forfeiture rules and replaced them with criminal forfeiture rules that went into effect after a criminal trial would not expand government. Laws only expand government when they leave room for interpretation to the benefit of the state and/or explicitly expand state power. Laws can also narrowly define state power.

Libertarians don't typically like that point because playing with government is to them like what playing in the mud is to most little girls.

Mark:

Your warnings are well-taken Chucky, at least by me. I understand your fears and share them. I think you go a bit too far though in wanting the government out of marriage and such though. I know many people who argue for this, but I could never understand it. We are the government, and as such getting the government out of marriage means privatizing it in my view. It is a public act, and since we are the government I never really could understand how one could possibly separate marriage from the legal act with public (and thus) governmental participation. I think it is easy to think of the government as other, but at its most basic it isn't.

The question that immediately pops into my mind is "why do we need the government involved in marriage?" Until 1967's Supreme Court decision, there were still laws on the books banning interracial marriage in this country. So was government involvement a good thing? Or would society have been better off to have allowed consenting adults to marry whomsoever they chose?

I feel like it is always better to err on the side of freedom.

Gian:

So your problem is not with Govt per se, but with an overly centralized Govt.

Yes, that's a BIG part of it. Decentralization of government is the main reason I've embraced libertarianism. I think Hayek made a sound case that most of the areas the government involves itself in are too complex to be centrally planned - even by the best and the brightest among us.

Zippy's blog (via Scott W.):

Substantive judgments about the good will necessarily discriminate: every function of governance, including contract enforcement, is an authoritative discrimination of some kind resting on some substantive concept of the good. What makes liberalism (including libertarianism) different from other political views is that liberalism has to make authoritative discriminations resting in a substantive conception of the good while at the same time denying that it is doing so.

Every decision made about applying the concept of 'the good' in governance must, from a Christian standpoint of absolute morality, be one of concession to evil. Christian teaching is clear about many sins: lying, greed, gossip, lust, unforgiveness, gluttony, jealousy, envy, to name a few - yet many Christians don't feel the need to have government enforce restrictions on all such sinful behavior - just some of it. So we are not just about 'the good' but also about what sort of 'evil' we will tolerate. So, for now, we draw the line at homosexuality. But why there? Why not at fornication? Why not at adultery? Or why not nip it all in the bud and simply outlaw lust? Obviously if we want 'the Christian good', we must follow the teachings of Jesus - right? And Jesus said that lust is the same thing as adultery. But we won't do that. We are ready to compromise our concept of 'the good' in order that we not end up with a complete police state.

But is that consistent with Christianity? I'd say yes - it is completely consistent - and here's why: Christianity - as taught by Jesus and Paul was very specific in how we, as Christians, were to apply the concept of 'the good': it was to be applied within the Church. As for those who are not in the Church, we are NOT told to place restrictions on them, or to advocate for government regulations against their "un-Christian" behavior. Instead, the extent of our interactions with the non-Christian world (as regards 'the good') is limited to preaching the gospel, and being gracious and kind. That's because this world and its governance is NOT the focus of Christianity. We are told explicitly to focus on the Kingdom of God - not the kingdoms of men. So we are commanded - regarding those outside the Church - to "judge not less you be judged". Paul was even more specific when he said, in 1 Corinthians: "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside." So it is God's problem what homosexuals do - not our problem! The consistent Christian then, would NOT be advocating for government to stomp out the homosexual intrusion into marriage, they'd be preaching the gospel and leaving people outside the realm of the Church to deal with their own sins.

Now some may object: "What about the children - isn't rampant homosexuality going to irreparably harm them?"

To that I'd answer that there was rampant, legal and accepted homosexuality in Paul's day, under the governance of Rome. But what did Paul tell the Christians to do to protect their children from that societal influence? Basically he said to raise them as Christians - and to be consistent Christians in front of them. He didn't say anything about government.

I think that we, as a Church, have lost our focus in this country. As we see lawlessness and sin increase, and the influence and respectability of the Church decrease, we get desperate for a champion to come in and rescue America. We believe, more correctly we deceive ourselves into believing, that government is that champion. Government is no substitute for the Christian Church. We should never forget that.

Okay, folks: I find these endless attempts to talk with Chucky Darwin about the nature of government extremely boring. That subject and that attempt to reason with this particular commentator have taken over more than one thread here at W4 like some kind of Borg. At this point, I really don't want this particular thread taken over in that same way, and since it's a thread on one of my posts, I'm going to say no to that.

The question that immediately pops into my mind is "why do we need the government involved in marriage?" Until 1967's Supreme Court decision, there were still laws on the books banning interracial marriage in this country. So was government involvement a good thing? Or would society have been better off to have allowed consenting adults to marry whomsoever they chose?

You cannot really judge the overall prudence based on one misguided policy. A ban on miscegenation is not enough to say that the government's involvement was too harmful to justify. One would, among many things, have to look at the results of the policies and judge whether they were more successful at keeping families together. In general, the stats do tend to bear out that the tougher, older laws were better at keeping families together than what we have today.

Of course, one of the problems we have today is that the "whatever two consenting adults want to do is ok" standard ignores the fact that most divorces only involve one consenting adult. Typically, that is the wife who is dumping her beta male husband for someone she finds sexier. She then uses the courts to extract all sorts of concessions out of her ex-husband in the form of custody, asset distribution, alimony, child support, etc.

Now, perhaps you really want to go to a system where the civil courts simply will not adjudicate those matters. I actually find that an intriguing prospect since it would mean most women would have no recourse if their husband were to retaliate by forcibly taking back all common property, grabbing the kids and moving to another state or even another country. While the law doesn't make people more moral on the inside, we are highly adaptable creatures. We tend to change our behaviors to suit the optimal survival requirements of our environment. I think we might find a significant swath of American women enthusiastically throwing out feminism if their husbands could dump them in a ditch with no access to their kids and common accounts if they develop a sudden case of "Eat, Pray, Love itis."

Heh, let me rephrase that. Let their husbands kick them to the curb. Dumping them in a ditch sounds like a license to murder if you have an IQ around room temperature (which most feminists, male or female, do).

At this point, I really don't want this particular thread taken over in that same way, and since it's a thread on one of my posts, I'm going to say no to that.

Duly noted. I didn't even see your reply until after I responded.

I'm sorry Lydia, I know I'm a one-trick pony lately.

Because I'm a new convert to Ron Paul-libertarianism and I see everything in the light of that new revelation, I've been using this blog as a proving ground for my newfound philosophy. I've been hoping to be forced to answer all manner of challenges against it - which I realize infuriates some of you. I'll try to keep out of the discussions until I have something substantive to add to the subject from now on.

(Note: "I'll try" is all I can promise!)

Churky Darwin,
You are not merely a member of a Church but also a citizen. The Government is NOT about the sins and your point
"Every decision made about applying the concept of 'the good' in governance must, from a Christian standpoint of absolute morality, be one of concession to evil"
does not stand. This confusion, that the Govt is interested in SINS is what the Christians libertarians seem prone to.

To take a simple point, morality is far more than Do not do's. At a deeper level, the morality is Have Charity and Do What You Will.

Sins are offenses against God and the State has nothing particularly to do here. Indeed, the State is that which is concerned with the natural order of man's flourishing. Since man has both natural and supernatural aspects and ends, the Church is concerned with the supernatural aspects and end and State with natural.

So State is concerned with Crimes and not Sins. They could be same, in particular cases, e.g. murder but some fundamental sins have never been crimes e.g. lying. This has nothing to do with "concession to evil" but a recognition of the separation between natural and supernatural orders. This is the bedrock of why there is a formal separation of Church and State.

Gian, please. I really don't want this to be a global discussion of the nature of government and the legitimacy of government.

I just had to junk a comment on this thread because it read to my eye and ear like a call to violence. Sorry, but I'm not going to allow that to be promulgated here.

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