Lawsuit challenges Mississippi's ban on same-sex adoption - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Lawsuit challenges Mississippi's ban on same-sex adoption

Source: Campaign for Southern Equality Source: Campaign for Southern Equality
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A federal lawsuit was filed on Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi’s law banning adoption by same-sex couples.

According to the Campaign for Southern Equality, Mississippi is the only state left in the nation that bans gay couples from adopting without regard for their qualifications as parents or the best interests of the child.

The case, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, was filed on behalf of four same-sex couples: Kari Lunsford and Tinora Sweeten-Lunsford, who are seeking to adopt a child; Brittany Rowell and Jessica Harbuck, also seeking to adopt; Donna Phillips and Janet Smith, parents to a young daughter; and Kathryn Garner and Susan Hrostowski, who have a 15-year-old son.

The Campaign for Southern Equality and Family Equality Council join the case as plaintiffs representing the LGBT families across Mississippi.

"Mississippi's ban on adoption by gay and lesbian couples blatantly discriminates against loving families, unfairly harms innocent children, and plainly cannot be reconciled with the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection as recently interpreted by the Supreme Court," says lead counsel Roberta Kaplan. 

Plaintiffs Brittany Rowell and Jessica Harbuck, who live in Jackson and are engaged to marry in January of 2016, add, "Like many other couples, we are looking into the future and how we want to start expanding our family. We feel compelled to adopt because the staggering statistics for children in foster care are daunting. We want to open our home to a child and make them feel safe, wanted, and loved. Every child deserves that. And we would be honored to be able to change the life of a child.”

The newly filed adoption lawsuit argues that:

“The Mississippi Adoption Ban writes inequality into Mississippi law by requiring that married gay and lesbian couples be treated differently than all other married couples in Mississippi, unequivocally barring them from adoption without regard to their circumstances or qualifications as parents.  As a consequence, the equal dignity of hundreds of families and thousands of children in Mississippi is disrespected and the significant and concrete rights, benefits, and duties that come with legal parentage are denied.  The Mississippi Adoption Ban means that “thousands of . . . children [are] actually being raised in homes . . . [with] only one legal parent, not the two who want them.”  Matter of Jacob, 660 N.E.2d 397, 398 (N.Y. 1995).  The Mississippi Adoption Ban is an outdated relic of a time when the courts and legislatures believed that it was okay to discriminate against gay people simply because they are gay.  But under the Supreme Court’s decisions in Obergefell and Windsor, such discrimination against children because their parents happen to be gay is clearly unconstitutional.”

Read the lawsuit documents here

We have reached out to the Office of Governor Phil Bryant for comment and are waiting for a response. 

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