Four lesbian couples on Wednesday filed
a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Mississippi's
law banning adoption by same-sex couples.
Mississippi is the only state left with
an outright adoption ban based solely on sexual orientation.
Plaintiffs in the
case are 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
Representing the couples are Roberta
Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and Robert
McDuff of McDuff & Byrd, the same legal team behind the federal
case that struck down Mississippi's ban on gay marriage. Kaplan in
2013 argued the Supreme Court case that struck down a key provision
of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which led to the federal
government recognizing the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
“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,” said
Kaplan, lead counsel in the case.
“We want to open our home to a child
and make them feel safe, wanted, and loved,” said plaintiffs
Brittany Rowell and Jessica Harbuck, who are planning to marry in
January. “And we would be honored to be able to change the life of
LGBT rights advocates the Campaign for
Southern Equality and Family Equality Council join the case as
plaintiffs representing LGBT families across Mississippi. The case
has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Dan Jordan.