Same-sex couples in Mississippi are celebrating after a federal judge ruled Thursday that the state’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children is unconstitutional. Last year’s challenge to the law was filed by four same-sex couples, who were joined by the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Family Equality Council.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan’s preliminary injunction against the ban makes gay adoption legal in all 50 states. Jordan, who cited the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide last summer, wrote that it “seems highly unlikely that the same court that held a state cannot ban gay marriage because it would deny benefits — expressly including the right to adopt — would then conclude that married gay couples can be denied that very same benefit.”
In 2000, Mississippi adopted a one-sentence law reading “adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.” Many other states, including Alabama, Florida, Nebraska and Michigan, had similar bans, but they have all since been overturned.
“I am overwhelmed with joy,” said Hattiesburg resident Kathy Garner. She and wife Susan Hrostowski sued to allow Hrostowski to adopt 16-year-old Hudson Garner. “For us, this has been a long time in the making.”
""We are so overwhelmed with joy at the ruling," says plaintiff Susan Hrostowski in MS adoption case. She can now adopt her 16 y.o. son.
— Southern Equality (@SouthernEqual) March 31, 2016
This is a huge reason for the LGBT community in Mississippi to celebrate this weekend, but the state still has some way to go in terms of LGBT rights. As part of a “religious freedom” bill currently being considered by Mississippi lawmakers, businesses and religious organizations would be allowed to deny adoption support services to the LGBT community (as well as other services such as counseling and wedding planning). It would also let adoption agencies refuse to place a child with any couple who they believed may be having premarital sex.
House Bill 1523 passed both Mississippi’s House and Senate Wednesday and has been described by critics as an all-time low for LGBT rights.
Professional help and support is a crucial part of the adoption process, not just for the couple but for the child being brought into a new family. To let organizations deny same-sex couples the right to this shows that Mississippi still has big steps to take for its LGBT community.