HRC Condemns Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant’s Statement of Support for LGBT Adoption Ban

by Ianthe Metzger

Shameful position by governor harms families and children who need permanent, loving homes

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization strongly condemned Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant’s statement Wednesday supporting a discriminatory state law that bars prospective LGBT parents in same-sex relationships from adopting.

“Gov. Bryant’s support of a state law that enshrines discrimination is shameful, especially coming at a time when it is imperative that we find permanent families and safe, loving homes for every child - including many in Mississippi currently in foster care,” said Rob Hill, HRC Mississippi State Director. “We call on Attorney General Jim Hood to come down on the right side of history -- don’t defend the ban, allow it to become another discarded artifact of discrimination.”

The federal lawsuit, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, filed today by the Family Equality Council and the Campaign for Southern Equality, challenges the constitutionality of the ban in Mississippi-- the only state in the nation that still has an absolute ban that prevents same-sex couples from adopting without regard for their qualifications, or the best interest of the child. Roberta Kaplan, the lead lawyer in the historic Windsor v. United States Supreme Court case that led to the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2012, is representing the Mississippi plaintiffs, along with Robert McDuff of the Mississippi based law firm, McDuff and Byrd. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of 4 same-sex couples --  Kari Lunsford and Tinora Sweeten-Lunsford; Jessica Harbuck and Brittany Rowell; Donna Phillips and Janet Smith; and Kathryn Garner and Susan Hrostowski.

The case presents challenges to the ban from the perspective of a parent who is unable to receive legal recognition of her parental status because her spouse is the child’s legal parent and also a woman; it also challenges the prohibition of a same-sex couple to adopt a child through the foster care system. Despite the discriminatory ban, which has been in place since 2000, Mississippi has the highest number of LGBT people raising children.

“With one-third of Mississippi’s 3,484 same-sex couples already raising children and 100 Mississippi youth in foster care waiting for loving adoptive homes, shame on the governor for trying to keep Mississippi tethered to a discriminatory past.” Hill said.

HRC calls on the governor to stop his blatantly discriminatory comments on behalf of the children of their state, and urges Attorney General Jim Hood to do the right and fair thing by refusing to defend an unconstitutional law.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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