Mississippi’s anti-gay law which prohibits same-sex couples from adopting kids has been stuck down in federal court on Thursday night, making gay adoption legal throughout all 50 states in the U.S.
Over the years, other states such as Alabama and Florida have one by one overturned their anti-gay adoption laws, leaving Mississippi the last state in the country to maintain its 16-year-old statutory ban on same-sex adoption.
In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Jordan described the ban as a violation of ‘the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.’
The judge added that the Supreme Court’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage nationwide last June prevails over any law that interferes with the right to marry and ‘rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage.’
One year ago, four same-sex couples stood up for their rights to adopt and challenged the Mississippi law. Two organisations, Campaign for Southern Equality and Family Equality Council, also joined in the legal battle as plaintiffs representing LGBT families across Mississippi.
‘Two sets of our clients have waited many (almost 9 and 16) years to become legal parents to the children they have loved and cared for since birth,’ said Roberta Kaplan, the lead attorney for the case, in a statement.
‘We hope that it should finally be clear that discrimination against gay people simply because they are gay violates the Constitution in all 50 states, including Mississippi.’
One of the plaintiffs, Susan Hrostowski shared her elation receiving the news:
‘We are so overwhelmed with joy. Our son just turned 16 on Easter Sunday and is going to get his driver’s license tomorrow.
‘For us, the feeling and the way we have operated as a family have never been impacted by this law. But to have this ruling and to be able to start the adoption proceedings tomorrow means everything to me.
‘There is no greater joy on this planet than to have him as my son and for the world to understand, appreciate and affirm that he is my son. It means everything.’
According to data from the 2010 Census, 29% of over 3,000 same-sex couples in Mississippi are raising children under the age of 18 in their homes.
‘LGBT families live in every town across Mississippi and can finally have the rights and protections that every family should,’ said Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. ‘This ruling is a critical step forward in the journey toward full equality in every sphere of life for LGBT people in Mississippi.’
Emily Hecht-McGowan, Interim Executive Director of Family Equality Council added:
‘Today’s decision by the Court is a victory for our plaintiff couples and is a giant step forward in achieving full legal and lived equality for all families living in Mississippi.’
Joining in the celebration, Human Rights Campaign’s Mississippi state director, Rob Hill, remarked:
‘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.
‘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.’
Unfortunately, Mississippi Senate has also just passed a ‘religious freedom’ bill that would give businesses the right to refuse service to LGBTI people without the fear of government discrimination.
The bill even sanctions the use of ‘conversion therapy’ to ‘cure’ LGBTI people.