About this Case
The biological mother of a child filed a petition to establish parentage and for declaratory relief. She sought a declaration that she was the sole parent of child and that any parental rights claimed by her former same-sex partner not be recognized. The state circuit court ruled that the mother was the sole biological and natural parent of the child, and that the mother's same sex-partner had no claims of parentage or visitation rights. The same-sex partner appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals. That court vacated and remanded the lower court’s decision. The same-sex partner registered a Vermont custody order, and the mother appealed. The Circuit Court reversed. The same-sex partner appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed and reinstated registration of the Vermont order. The mother appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Summary of NLF's Brief
Our brief expanded upon and brought new insight into the argument that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevents application of the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA) to the recognition of Vermont’s child custody and visitation order. Vermont’s order relied on a presumption of parenthood under its civil union law. The Virginia Court of Appeals held that it would not construe DOMA to be in conflict with PKPA, because repeals by implication are not favored. However, a proper statutory construction of DOMA would reveal that it is more like an amendatory statute. The only way to reconcile the conflicting sections of PKPA and DOMA is to recognize that because DOMA was enacted after PKPA, DOMA would control and prevent the application of PKPA in this case.