RUTLAND, Vt. -- A Vermont Family Court judge has ruled that both members of a same-sex civil union are the legal parents of a child.
Judge William Cohen's decision is the latest twist in a nationally watched custody dispute that has produced conflicting rulings in two states.
Cohen ruled that Janet Miller-Jenkins of Fair Haven is a parent to 2-year-old Isabella, born to Lisa Miller-Jenkins after artificial insemination. The women lived in Virginia when they entered a civil union in Vermont four years ago. They eventually moved to Vermont after having a child and then split up.
Lawyers for Lisa Miller-Jenkins, who now lives in Virginia, had contested whether Janet Miller-Jenkins was the child's parent. A Virginia judge had granted Lisa, 35, full custody of the child, ruling that Janet, 39, was no more than a friend to the child.
Last week Cohen reached a different conclusion under Vermont law. ''Parties to a civil union who use artificial insemination to conceive a child can be treated no differently than a husband and wife, who, unable to conceive a child biologically, choose to conceive a child by inseminating the wife with the sperm of an anonymous donor," Cohen wrote.
The judge ruled the case can now be set for a final hearing in Family Court to determine issues such as custody and child support.