Suit challenges Mississippi ban on adoption by same-sex couples

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 12, 2015 1:10 PM

By Karen Brooks

(Reuters) - Activists in Mississippi filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday challenging the state's ban on adoption by same-sex couples, saying the law – the only one of its kind in the United States – is unconstitutional because it discriminates against legally married couples.

The plaintiffs include four same-sex couples - two of whom already are raising children - as well as the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Family Equality Council.

The suit, Campaign for Southern Equality vs. Mississippi Department of Human Services, comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down gay marriage bans as unconstitutional across the country.

"Mississippi's ban on adoption by gay and lesbian couples blatantly discriminates against loving families, unfairly harms innocent children, and plainly cannot be reconciled with the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection as recently interpreted by the Supreme Court," attorney Roberta Kaplan said in a statement.

Officials at the Mississippi Attorney General's Office said Wednesday that they were reviewing the complaint.

Several lawyers involved in the suit also filed the lawsuit that ultimately ended Mississippi’s ban on gay marriage in 2014, according to a statement released by the Campaign for Southern Equality.

Of the 3,484 same-sex couples living in Mississippi, one-third of them are raising children, the lawsuit says, citing 2010 census data.

About 100 children in Mississippi are in foster care and legally available for adoption, the suit says.

"The Mississippi Adoption Ban is an outdated relic of a time when the courts and legislatures believed that it was OK to discriminate against gay people simply because they are gay," the lawsuit says.

Among those filing the lawsuit are Brittany Rowell and Jessica Harbuck, a engaged Jackson couple who said in a statement that they "feel compelled to adopt" in order to help a foster child and expand their family.

"We want to open our home to a child and make them feel safe, wanted and loved," the pair said. "And we would be honored to be able to change the life of a child."

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Bill Trott)