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Federal Judge Halts Enforcement of Mississippi Ban on Adoptions by Same-Sex Couples

by Ianthe Metzger March 31, 2016

Today, HRC Mississippi praised a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Daniel P. Jordan III in Mississippi declaring unconstitutional the state’s ban on adoption by same sex couples, citing the Supreme Court of the United States’ 2015 marriage equality ruling in the historic case Obergefell v. Hodges.

“This welcome decision affirms that  qualified same-sex couples in Mississippi seeking to become adoptive or foster parents are entitled to equal treatment under the law, and commits to the well-being of children in our state who need loving homes,” said HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill.“Judge Jordan has repudiated reprehensible efforts by our elected leaders to deny legal rights to our families. They are on the wrong side of history, and today’s decision confirms, yet again, that they are also on the wrong side of the law.”

The federal lawsuit, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, challenged the constitutionality of a statutory ban on adoption by same-sex couples in  Mississippi -- the only state in the nation that still has an absolute ban preventing same-sex couples from adopting regardless of  their qualifications.

Roberta Kaplan, the lead lawyer in Windsor v. United States, the Supreme Court case that led to the defeat of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2012, represents the Mississippi plaintiffs along with Robert McDuff of the Mississippi-based law firm, McDuff and Byrd. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four same-sex couples seeking to adopt or foster in Mississippi:  Kari Lunsford and Tinora Sweeten-Lunsford; Jessica Harbuck and Brittany Rowell; Donna Phillips and Janet Smith; and Kathryn Garner and Susan Hrostowski.

“We congratulate the plaintiffs, their attorneys, and the Campaign for Southern Equality,” Hill said.  

In his decision, Jordan asserts that the Supreme Court of the United States, in its decision affirming marriage equality, “foreclosed litigation over laws interfering with the right to marry and ‘rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage.’” The Supreme Court determines the  law of the land.

And that includes Mississippi.

HRC Mississippi is working to advance equality for LGBT Mississippians who have no statewide protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations. Through HRC Mississippi, we are working toward a future of fairness every day - changing hearts, minds and law towards achieving full equality.

Ianthe Metzger
Ianthe Metzger


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