Written by Jonathan Breeden
A federal judge recently overturned a 2000 ruling in Mississippi that banned same-sex couples from adoption. This decision was especially momentous because it officially made same-sex adoption legal in all 50 states.
In 2015, four Mississippi same-sex couples wanting to adopt children challenged the law, which succinctly states, “[a]doption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.” Joined by the two advocacy groups Campaign for Southern Equality and the Family Equality Council, the couples filed a lawsuit against the state’s law. Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who is the Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality Across Mississippi, has said in defense of the plaintiffs, “there are same-sex couples…who are ready and able to provide a loving, stable home to children and there are waiting children…who desperately need a home. What stands between them is a discriminatory law that must be struck down.”
U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan issued a preliminary injunction against the law, which prevents the state of Mississippi from enforcing it. In his decision, Judge Jordan said, “’[t]he majority of the United States Supreme Court dictates the law of the land, and lower courts are bound to follow it. In this case, that means’ Mississippi’s law ‘… violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.”’ Judge Jordan’s reference to the Equal Protection Clause is that from the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to overturn a federal ban on gay marriage because it denies benefits to gay couples, and the right to adopt is one of those very benefits.
Mississippi’s sixteen-year-old ban was the last one to be overturned; every other state in the United States that had similar anti-gay adoption bans have been previously overruled.
The defendants, according to the judge’s ruling, offered “a tepid defense of the statute itself, focusing instead on the Plaintiff’s right to sue them.” In response to requests, the judge dismissed the complaints against Mississippi governor Phil Bryant, Attorney General Jim Hood, and several judges. Judge Jordan decided that the Department of Human Services was the property entity to be named in the complaint, for both plaintiffs that wanted to adopt either through the foster care process or through private adoption.
If you are looking to adopt in North Carolina, it’s important that you consult a knowledgeable North Carolina family law attorney regarding your case. Adoption is very rewarding, but it can be a long and arduous process. Your attorney can be by your side to answer all your questions and skillfully navigate the adoption process in court, leaving you time to prepare your home to welcome your child. Call (919) 661-4970 today.