Court Of Appeals Decides Custody Case Based On Marriage Amendment!Aug 23, 2009
Early last week, the Court of Appeals of Virginia rendered a decision in a custody case and used the Marriage Amendment as a key element in their decision. (Damon v. York, see opinion here). The case should sound familiar. Two women, one of whom had a child from a previous heterosexual marriage, lived together in Virginia. They then "briefly traveled" to Canada and were "married" under a Canadian law authorizing same-sex marriage. Eventually, there are accusations of child neglect and investigations by the Department of Social Services. The child involved was placed in the shared custody of the natural father and maternal grandmother. The "marriage" quickly dissolves, and a battle over visitation ensues.
Evidence was presented to the Virginia Beach Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and visitation was denied to the former girlfriend of the biological mother. She appealed, and the case was accepted by the Court of Appeals.
In its decision, the court agreed with the lower court, arguing essentially that the former girlfriend had no "legitimate interest" in receiving custody. In addition to other legal reasons, the court decided that because the Canadian "marriage" was "void in all aspects" under Virginia law, it could not grant any visitation. It cited the Marriage Amendment to the Virginia Constitution, ratified by voters in 2006, and the Marriage Affirmation Act, passed by the General Assembly in 2004, as the binding law.
Of course, almost nothing of this case was reported in the Mainstream Media. It is very interesting that the media has no time to report the standing of the Marriage Amendment when it is upheld as binding law in a case. Yet, as in the case of Lisa Miller and her little girl Isabella, it is mentioned in every newspaper despite its absence in the courts' decisions.
In this latest custody battle, the Court of Appeals pointed out that "the interest of parents in the care, custody and control of their children — is perhaps the oldest fundamental liberty interests recognized by the Court." Unfortunately, in a nation where words like "parents" and "family" and "marriage" are redefined, such legal standards are undermined every day. For example, the plaintiff seeking visitation used contrived phrases, such as "quasi-stepparent" and "functional equivalent of a family member" to try to force herself into custody where she had no legal standing. With such nonsense, it's amazing the case got this far up the legal ladder. Fortunately, the court got the decision right.