A federal judge ruled Thursday that Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children is unconstitutional, making gay adoption legal in all 50 states
U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan issued a preliminary injunction against the ban, citing the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide last summer. The injunction blocks Mississippi’s Department of Human Services from enforcing its 16-year-old anti-gay adoption law.
The Supreme Court ruling “foreclosed litigation over laws interfering with the right to marry and rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage,” Jordan wrote. “It also 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.”
Huffington Post adds:
“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,” Roberta Kaplan, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said 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.”
The one-sentence Mississippi law — which reads, simply, “Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited” — was adopted in 2000. While several other states, including Alabama, Florida, Nebraska and Michigan, had similar bans, all have since been overturned.
Mississippi remained the lone holdout until Thursday’s ruling. (Some states still have restrictions on fostering children, however, and other roadblocks for same-sex couples remain.)
On Wednesday, The Mississippi Senate voted to pass a religious freedom bill which says businesses, social workers and public employees cannot be punished for denying services based on the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman or that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” It also protects individuals who believe gender is determined at birth.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 31-17 to pass the controversial bill, called the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act.” The bill passed the Mississippi House 80-39 in February, but now heads back to the House before the legislation goes to the governor’s desk according to NBC News.
“Where does this all end? Why do we keep doing this to ourselves, Mississippi?” said Sen. John Horhn. “And we wonder why the rest of the world thinks so badly of us. It’s because of some things that we do that are unjust.”
Mississippi LGBT rights groups say the bill would undermine equal rights.
“Freedom of religion is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans, but that freedom does not give any of us the right to harm or mistreat others,” the ACLU of Mississippi said in a statement. “Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize same sex couples by pushing this legislation. The Mississippi State Legislature should look for ways to bring Mississippians together, not divide us along religious lines. The ACLU of Mississippi urges the state legislature to kill this divisive bill in conference.”
Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said the legislation would undermine equality in the state and could result in backlash from businesses.
“Governor Byrant should be paying close attention to the backlash against discrimination in Georgia, where Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a terrible anti-LGBT bill, and in North Carolina, where fair-minded people and the broader business community are calling on state leaders to repudiate and repeal the discriminatory law passed last week,” Griffin said in a statement. “Mississippi’s economy and its reputation hang in the balance.”