Mississippi law still leaves room for improvement

Near the end of March, a federal judge ruled that Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children is unconstitutional. This made it legal for same-sex couples to adopt children in all 50 states. According to a Huffington Post article by Mollie Reilly, deputy politics editor, “U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan issued a preliminary injunction against the ban, citing the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide last summer. The injunction blocks Mississippi from enforcing its 16-year-old anti-gay adoption law.”

For the past 16 years the state has enforced the anti-gay adoption law, but last year a challenge was filed by four same-sex couples to start the change of this law. These parents were backed by the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Family Equality Council.

This change is huge for the adoption community and means that the opportunities for adoptable children, not only in Mississippi, but in other states as well. Mississippi remained the lone state to holdout until the ruling in March. However, there are some states that still have some restrictions on same-sex couples fostering children, along with some other obstructions for them.

Children in the adoption and foster care system are desperately in need of adoptive and foster homes, and this ruling is a step in the right direction. Surprisingly this law was adopted in just 2000, showing how far our society has come in 16 years. While it did take quite a while, the change is welcomed by the LGBT community as well as much of the adoption community. Even the former governor of Mississippi who signed the adoption bill into law told The Huffington Post in 2013 that he supported overturning the bill.

The law reads, “Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited,” and simply that. The law was similar to those that were also overturned in other states, including Alabama, Florida, Nebraska and Michigan.

This ruling is important not only for the benefits it will have for adoptable children, but because it shows that we are progressing as a society, slowly. This ruling follows the passing of a “religious freedom” bill that gives businesses the right to deny service to LGBT people. Mississippi is in a tug of war; moving one step forward, but two steps back.

In order to move forward, the state of Mississippi cannot keep allowing the option for discrimination. The law says it protects from people claiming discrimination against anyone “who thinks that marriage is between only one man and one woman, that sexual relations are reserved solely for marriage, and that the terms male and female pertain only to a person’s genetics and anatomy at birth.”

According to this law, religious organizations will be able to deny LGBT people marriage, adoption and foster care services; refuse to employ them, fire them, and possibly not let them rent or sell them property among other services.

The law is basically protecting those who want to discriminate against or not allow LGBT individuals to use or receive certain services because their religion does not align with the lifestyle of LGBT individuals. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill against the urgings of protester and cries about its discriminatory nature from gay rights groups and state businesses, according to a CNN article.

The law may not be discriminatory in itself, however, it seems to enable discriminatory behavior among religious groups.

Changes in Mississippi seem to be moving in a right direction in terms of allowing for the adoption of children by same-sex couples, but has absolutely taken a step backward in other realms. In an ideal world, there would be no discrimination and governments would not support discriminatory behaviors, but we still have a long way to go until we reach this goal.

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