JACKSON - Today, HRC Mississippi condemned spurious assertions by Governor Phil Bryant and Attorney General Jim Hood that the state’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples remains constitutional despite the Supreme Court’s ruling affirming marriage equality in the historic Obergefell v. Hodges case.
In a filing Friday, Hood stated that Mississippi is not required to allow same-sex couples to adopt, maintaining that the state should continue to encourage adoption by opposite sex couples. He incorrectly relies on a decade-old case from the Eleventh Circuit, Lofton v. Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services, in which the court upheld a Florida ban on adoption by same-sex couples (and LGB individuals) in large part because at the time same-sex couples couldn’t marry in the state.
“Governor Bryant and Attorney General Hood continue to demonstrate that they’d rather continue legal discrimination against LGBT families than give children in need the best chance of finding a loving home,” said HRC Mississippi State Director Rob Hill. “Despite this discriminatory ban, Mississippi has one of the highest numbers of LGBT people raising children than anywhere in the country. Every major child welfare organization agrees that same-sex couples are just as capable of raising loved and well-adjusted children and their hetereosexual counterparts. Shame on the governor and attorney general for asserting otherwise, shame on them for not working in the best interests of children, and shame on them for continuing to keep the Magnolia State tethered to a discriminatory past.”
Hood’s filing was released in response to the federal lawsuit Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services which 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. 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.
“On behalf of the children of the state who deserve loving and caring homes, we continue to call on these elected officials to stop supporting this blatantly discriminatory law,”said Hill.
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.
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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