American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer took to Twitter again today to double down on his claims that an “underground railroad” is necessary to kidnap children away from same-sex parents. Referring again to the case of Lisa Miller, who kidnapped her daughter away to Nicaragua to prevent her former same-sex partner from gaining custody, Fischer argued that court rulings that recognize same-sex unions constitute “judicial kidnapping”:
No kidnapping involved in Lisa Miller case. She left the US to keep her natural, biological daughter FROM BEING KIDNAPPPED. In Lisa Miller case, I’m advocating AGAINST JUDICIAL KIDNAPPING, in favor of keeping daughter with her own mother. In Lisa Miller case, lesbian who wanted sole custody of the daughter had NO legal or biological relationship to the girl. If any kidnapping involved in Lisa Miller case, it’s judges stealing a child from her mother and giving her to a stranger.
First of all — and unsurprisingly — Fischer has the facts wrong. While it’s true that Miller was her daughter’s biological mother, her former partner, Janet Jenkins, was also legally her mother. Isabella grew up calling Jenkins “Mama” and Miller “Mommy.” Jenkins and Miller had their civil union dissolved in 2004, and Vermont’s Family Court granted Jenkins visitation rights. Miller moved to Virginia, which did not recognize Vermont’s civil unions, and used the court to block Jenkins from visiting for two years. Ultimately, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that Vermont still had jurisdiction, reinstating visitation rights for Jenkins. When Miller again started blocking Jenkins’ visits, a Vermont judge held her in contempt, prompting her to flee with Isabella to Central America, apparently through a covert network of Mennonites. “Mama” was hardly a “stranger” in the eyes of the law, despite Miller’s best attempts to alienate Isabella from her.
Worse than simply being wrong on the facts, Fischer is arguing for complete anarchy. Judges granting custody to legally recognized guardians is the courts acting in the best interest of children. To call that “judicial kidnapping” is to suggest that the entire legal system be disregarded when it recognizes same-sex relationships. Fischer is essentially encouraging conservative Christians to become anti-gay vigilantes, kidnapping the children of same-sex couples to enforce their own perverted sense of justice outside the legal system.
Despite how extreme Fischer’s positions are, there is actually precedent for this particular mindset. The Manhattan Declaration, drafted in 2009 by former National Organization for Marriage chairman Robert George and the late prison evangelist Chuck Colson, encourages Christians to violate the law if that’s what it takes to uphold their anti-gay (or anti-choice) values. Fischer is apparently ready to follow through on that “call of Christian conscience.”