The United States District Court officially struck down the state of Mississippi’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples on Thursday, March 31. This ruling now gives same-sex couples in Mississippi the right to adopt.
As stated in the ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan, the law violates the “Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution,” given that equal marriage rights have been officially extended to gay and lesbian couples.
Mississippi was the last state in the country to have a ban on same-sex adoption, a law that was in place for 16 years.
“I just think this is a very protracted and controversial issue,” law professor Michéle Alexandre said. “We are not the only state, but we are certainly among the minority of states that have resistance in some areas around [LGBT] issues. So, we’ve made same-sex marriage the law of the land, but it sounds like we will have to litigate these issues one by one.”
Although the federal decision has technically been in effect for over a week now, a few details must be worked out before the law officially goes into effect across the state.
“It really depends on the district attorney’s office,” Alexandre said. “They made a statement of cooperation, I believe, within the week of the decision. It shouldn’t take very long unless somebody tries to run the clock and tries to have a re-review on the Supreme Court.”
Mississippi has been in the public eye for policies about the LGBT community, primarily religious freedom bill.
“I think [the religious freedom bill] kind of encapsulated all the combinations of issues that came up about LGBT rights,” Alexandre said. “Litigation of that statute itself is going to, I think, force us to really come to terms with what the law means and our obligation to apply it.”
For Spencer Pleasants, president of the UM Pride Network, this represents a victory in achieving equal rights for all people.
“It’s certainly a sigh of relief,” Pleasants said. “It relates to the case for greater quality and true equality. This is one of those fine-tuned circumstances that needed attention and needed to be equalized.”
Among members of the LGBT community within the state, the lifting of this particular ban is counted as an important stepping stone to what they feel is total and complete equality, according to Pleasants.
“I now can look at my straight friend and say, ‘I can do something now that a couple months ago only you could do,” Pleasants said. “We are equal. And you know, that makes a big difference. As a Southerner and Mississippi native, that’s good to know that my state won’t deny me the wonderful gift of parenthood.”