Same-Sex Couple Adoption Legalized in Mississippi as New Anti-Gay Law is Passed
Mississippi's ban on same-sex adoption was overturned the same week they passed a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to LGBT people based on religious freedom.
Mississippi is the last state in the country to allow same-sex couples to legally adopt children. Since 2000, Mississippi has had an anti-gay adoption law in place, but a federal judge declared that ban unconstitutional on Thursday, reports The Huffington Post.
U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan who issued the ruling said his decision "foreclosed litigation over laws interfering with the right to marry and rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage."
Four same-sex couples brought the challenge against Mississippi's ban last year, two of whom have not been able to legally adopt the children they've raised since birth for nine and 16 years. Now that the ban is overturned, they will be able to have the rights and privileges given to any adoptive parent in the country.
Rob Hill, Mississippi state director for the Human Rights Campaign, praised the decision saying "Judge Jordan has repudiated reprehensible efforts by our elected leaders to deny legal rights to our families. They are on the wrong side of history, and today's decision confirms, yet again, that they are also on the wrong side of the law."
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However, Mississippi seems to be taking a "one step forward, two steps back" approach to equality because on Wednesday lawmakers passed House Bill 1523, the "religious freedom" bill that allows businesses to deny services to LGBT people based on their religious beliefs, and they cannot be penalized by the state for doing so.
Many people have spoken out again the bill, including Christian church leaders like Chris Donald, a United Methodist pastor and Chaplain at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS. Donald and several other ministers wrote a letter to The Clarion Ledger expressing their disapproval of HB 1523. The letter begins:
"House Bill 1523 must not pass. Though it is called the "Religious Liberty Accommodations Act" it is not intended to promote liberty but to deny it; it is not meant to accommodate belief but to enable discrimination. Allow us to explain why we believe this as disciples of Jesus Christ and as citizens."
The bill is now going back to the House to approve an amendment, but if fully passed it will officially take effect July 1, 2016.