A custody battle between two lesbians is highlighting the differing attitudes to same-sex relationships in America.

Janet Jenkins and Lisa Miller got married in 2002 in Vermont, the only state that currently has legal gay civil unions.

Shortly afterwards the couple decided to have a child and Miller became pregnant through articifial insemination.

About a year after the birth of their daughter, the couple split up.

Miller returned to her home state of Virginia with the child, and renounced her lesbianism.

She refused Ms Jenkins access to the child.

A Virginia court ruled that Ms Miller had sole parental rights over the girl, as the state does not recognise same-sex unions.

However, a Vermont court ruled that Ms Jenkins has visitation rights and at the end of December 2006 ordered her to pay $240 a month to her former lesbian partner for child support.

An appeals court has ruled that Vermont has jurisdiction in this case, and Ms Jenkins intends to press for full custody of the four-year-old as part of the order dissolving her civil union with Ms Miller.

The ruling of the Vermont court could be a test case for future custody battles between same-sex couples.

Ms Miller’s lawyers intend to appeal the decision that Vermont has jurisdiction over the case.