Mississippi Same Sex Adoption Ban Overturned: Gay Couples Now Free To Adopt In The Magnolia State

Mississippi’s ban on same-sex adoption has been overturned by a federal judge, paving the way for same-sex couples in the state to move forward with pending adoptions and prohibiting the state’s adoption and social services agencies from standing in their way, MSN is reporting.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan ruled in favor of plaintiffs Campaign for Southern Equality, which had sued the Mississippi Department of Human Services to overturn the ban on same-sex adoption.

In his decision, which you can read here, Judge Jordan referenced the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. Jordan noted that it defies credulity that if same-sex marriage is legal in Mississippi, same-sex adoption could remain illegal.

“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.”

The practical effect of the overturning of Mississippi’s same-sex adoption ban will be felt almost immediately – at least, for the estimated 1,400 children in Mississippi living in homes with same-sex parents.

Hattiesburg resident Kathy Garner and her wife, Susan Hrostowski, will now be legally allowed to adopt their 16-year-old son, Hudson Garner.

As Kathy explains, “I am overwhelmed with joy. For us, this has been a long time in the making.”

Hudson Garner himself was slightly less than enthusiastic about the whole thing, being 16.

“He had a typical 16-year-old response. He said ‘Cool.’ Then he said congratulations. Then he said he was going to take a nap.”

same sex adoption mississippi
Hudson Garner and his moms, Kathryn Garner, center, and Susan Hrostowski. [Photo by Rogelio V. Solis/AP]

Rachel Ring, a spokesperson for Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, said that the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS) will comply with the ruling unless and until it is appealed and overturned.

“The district court did direct the Department of Human Services not to discriminate between same-sex and opposite-sex couples in adoption related services provided by that agency. We respect the district court’s analysis of the law and will consult with the Department of Human Services on what options to take going forward.”

Whether or not Mississippi’s same-sex adoption ban will continue to play out in the courts remains to be seen. However, according to Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Mississippi isn’t likely to press the issue any further.

“The ban is effectively over. DHS will have a very, very hard time convincing a judge on appeal.”

Mississippi has been a mixed bag when it comes to progress on LGBTQ issues even since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Unlike in Kentucky, where Rowan County clerk Kim Davis famously refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses in her county — to the point where she was even behind bars for a brief period of time — no county clerks or other employees in Mississippi are known to have objected to issuing a same-sex marriage license on religious grounds.

Similarly, last year, Mississippi’s Supreme Court ruled that gay couple married in another state could get divorced in Mississippi.

However, Mississippi, like Missouri and a handful of other states, is also considering a so-called religious “liberty bill” that would allow some government officials and private business people to refuse service to gay couples or individuals based on their own religious objections.

Former Mississippi governor Ronnie Musgrove, who signed the law banning same-sex adoption in Mississippi in 2000, said last year that he regrets that decision.

[Image via Shutterstock/pavelgr]

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