Pastor On Trial for Helping Mother & Daughter in Same-Sex Custody Battle Travel Internationally

by Wendy Wright

A judge orders that a little girl be taken from her mother and given to a lesbian woman with whom the little girl has no biological ties or relationship.

An Amish/Mennonite pastor is on trial for allegedly, and perhaps partially unknowingly, helping the mother and daughter travel to another country.

Yet homosexual advocates say that same-sex marriage or unions don’t affect anyone other than the individual couples.

The trial of Pastor Kenneth Miller began this week in Vermont. He is accused of helping Lisa Miller (no relation) leave the U.S. in 2009 for Central America with her then-7 year old daughter Isabella.

As with many custody cases, there are many details and twists and turns. This story is replete with state officials allowing another state’s same-sex civil union laws trump their own laws upholding traditional marriage.

Years ago, Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller, both of whom lived in Virginia, entered into a civil union in Vermont. Lisa had Isabella through the aid of a fertility clinic. Soon after, Janet and Lisa broke up. The mother and child lived in Virginia, where Lisa became a Christian and renounced her former ways. Janet lives in Vermont.

A few years later, a custody battle ensued in Vermont. Virginia does not recognize same-sex marriage or unions. That state has both a constitutional amendment and a state law only recognizing traditional marriage.

Yet judges in Virginia defied those laws and incomprehensibly ruled that Virginian citizens Lisa and Isabella must obey Vermont’s laws and court rulings.

A Vermont judge had ordered that Lisa hand Isabella over to Janet Jenkins for unsupervised days-long visits.

Isabella had returned from these visits with this virtual stranger recounting episodes that left her not wanting to go back, like being required to bathe with Janet. Soon after Lisa and Isabella disappeared, the judge – to punish Lisa for not producing Isabella for a visit – gave full custody to Janet.

The case has become a cause celebre for homosexual activists with the New York Times on the trail of Lisa and Isabella. The newspaper recently ran a story on an Amish/Mennonite community in Nicaragua where the mother and daughter had lived for a time as the FBI and Interpol conducted an international manhunt. They sought the pair, claiming Lisa “abducted” her daughter.

The New York Times reported this week on as the trial began against Kenneth Miller who prosecutors accuse of driving Lisa and Isabella from Virginia to New York in 2009, where they crossed into Canada to then fly to Central America.

A website set up by supporters to follow Pas. Miller’s case can be found at

As they state, “When considering the correct response in this case, we take inspiration from Jesus’ way of relating to people in whatever situation they were in – that is with compassion and lack of condemnation . . . We wish to clarify that this was an act of mercy without a political agenda.”

This article was originally posted on the Turtle Bay and Beyond blog by Wendy Wright, who is Vice President for Government Relations and Communications at the Catholic Family & Human Right Institute.

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