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Preliminary Injunction Filed in Lawsuit Seeking to Immediate Relief From Mississippi Adoption Ban

A motion seeking a preliminary injunction was filed on August 28th by two married couples with children in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, the federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi’s law banning adoption by same-sex couples. Mississippi is the only state left in the nation that bans gay couples from adopting without regard for their qualifications as parents or the best interests of the child.

The plaintiffs who filed the motion, Donna Phillips and Janet Smith & Kathy Garner and Susan Hrostowski, are among the “many same-sex couples” who the Supreme Court recently recognized “provide loving and nurturing homes to their children.” But because of the Mississippi Adoption Ban, only one member of each couple is a legal parent to their child. The motion argues that these families are irreparably harmed each day that the adoption ban remains in place and the other parent should be allowed to pursue adoption immediately.

Together for 20 years and now legally married, Donna Phillips and Janet Smith are raising an eight-year-old daughter. Kathy Garner and Susan Hrostowski were married in 2014 and have been together for nearly 26 years. They have a fifteen-year-old son. Under the current law, neither Janet nor Susan is recognized as a legal parent to their children.

Lawsuit documents are available at:

http://www.southernequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Preliminary-Injunction-Brief-Final-10188561_8.pdf

http://www.southernequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Susan-Hrostowski-Declaration-Final.pdf

http://www.southernequality.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Jan-Smith-Declaration-Final.pdf

(Kathryn and Susan on their wedding day)

“The ‘what ifs’ are always there. What if something happens to me? What if something happens to Kathy. Our son has had two parents for 15 years and only one of us has the rights and responsibilities that other two parent families take for granted. We chose to have a child, . . . → Read More: Preliminary Injunction Filed in Lawsuit Seeking to Immediate Relief From Mississippi Adoption Ban

Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services

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Lawsuit on Behalf of Gay Couples in Mississippi Seeks to Establish Adoption Rights

A federal lawsuit was filed on August 12th challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi’s law banning adoption by same-sex couples. Mississippi is the only state left in the nation that bans gay couples from adopting without regard for their qualifications as parents or the best interests of the child.

Read coverage of the lawsuit by the New York Times.

The case, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on behalf of four same-sex couples: Kari Lunsford and Tinora Sweeten-Lunsford, who are seeking to adopt a child; Brittany Rowell and Jessica Harbuck, also seeking to adopt; Donna Phillips and Janet Smith, parents to a young daughter; and Kathryn Garner and Susan Hrostowski, who have a 15-year-old son. Two organizations — the Campaign for Southern Equality and Family Equality Council — join the case as plaintiffs representing the LGBT families across Mississippi.

 

Lead counsel for the plaintiffs is Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Plaintiffs are also represented by Mississippi attorney Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd, based in Jackson, Mississippi.

The full complaint can be read here.

“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,” says lead counsel Roberta Kaplan.

According to data from the 2010 Census, 29 percent of the 3,484 same-sex couples currently living in Mississippi are raising children under the age of 18 in their homes. As of 2014, 996 same-sex couple . . . → Read More: Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services

Mississippi Adoption for Same-Sex Couples Challenged in Court

Lawsuit on Behalf of Gay Couples in Mississippi Seeks to Establish Adoption Rights

A federal lawsuit was filed today challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi’s law banning adoption by same-sex couples. Mississippi is the only state left in the nation that bans gay couples from adopting without regard for their qualifications as parents or the best interests of the child.

The case, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on behalf of four same-sex couples: Kari Lunsford and Tinora Sweeten-Lunsford, who are seeking to adopt a child; Brittany Rowell and Jessica Harbuck, also seeking to adopt; Donna Phillips and Janet Smith, parents to a young daughter; and Kathryn Garner and Susan Hrostowski, who have a 15-year-old son. Two organizations — the Campaign for Southern Equality and Family Equality Council — join the case as plaintiffs representing the LGBT families across Mississippi.

 

The full complaint can be read here.

Lead counsel for the plaintiffs is Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Plaintiffs are also represented by Mississippi attorney Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd, based in Jackson, Mississippi.

“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,” says lead counsel Roberta Kaplan.

According to data from the 2010 Census, 29 percent of the 3,484 same-sex couples currently living in Mississippi are raising children under the age of 18 in their homes. As of 2014, 996 same-sex couple households in Mississippi were raising 1,401 children, according to the Williams Institute at the . . . → Read More: Mississippi Adoption for Same-Sex Couples Challenged in Court

In New Legal Filings, Attorneys Call for Immediate Start of Same-Sex Marriages in Mississippi

Attorneys in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant, the lawsuit that struck down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage, filed a motion on Friday afternoon with the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to enforce the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling recognizing marriage equality. While some same-sex couples have already married today in Mississippi, the state’s attorney general has issued instructions that clerks cannot issues licenses until the stay is lifted.

“It is now time for the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell to be followed throughout this great nation. We are confident that state officials in Mississippi will honor the oath they swore to uphold the Constitution and will facilitate the marriages of gay and lesbian couples throughout Mississippi,” says Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.

At 10 a.m. this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the fundamental right to marry extends to same-sex couples in all 50 states. By mid-day, same-sex couples were receiving marriage licenses at the Forrest County Circuit Clerk’s Office located in Hattiesburg; Forrest County is no longer issuing licenses however.

This afternoon, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said, “The Supreme Court’s decision is not immediately effective in Mississippi. It will become effective in Mississippi, and circuit clerks will be required to issue same-sex marriage licenses, when the 5th Circuit lifts the stay of Judge Reeves’ order.”

The new legal filings can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/1Kguvcy

“Same-sex couples in Mississippi cannot wait another day for the legal rights that they are now guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Affirms That Same-Sex Couples Have a Constitutional Right to Marry

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples in all 50 states have a constitutional right to marry.

“What a glorious day for this great country. By recognizing once and for all that the Constitution respects the dignity of all Americans, gay or straight, the Supreme Court has once again honored the core American values of equal protection and due process of law. “We are confident that Mississippi officials statewide will honor their constitutional duties and will move quickly to begin issuing marriage licenses to our clients Andrea Sanders and Becky Bickett and to the many other Mississippians who have waited so long to protect their families by marrying the person who they love,”‎ said Roberta Kaplan, lead counsel in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant.

Kaplan has been lead counsel in the Mississippi District Court declared that state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court case that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and laid the foundation for today’s ruling.

“LGBT families have always been equal in the eyes of God but now, finally, they are also equal under the law, with a safety net of legal protections surrounding them. With great joy, we expect that marriages will begin immediately in Mississippi and Alabama,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. Through this landmark decision, the Court has signaled that policies that treat LGBT people as second-class citizens do not fulfill the American promise of equal protection under the law and cannot stand.”

Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant challenged the constitutionality of marriage laws in Mississippi that banned marriage between same-sex couples and deny recognition of same-sex marriages performed out-of-state. The lawsuit was filed on October 20, 2014, on behalf of two same-sex . . . → Read More: U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Affirms That Same-Sex Couples Have a Constitutional Right to Marry