Gay couples in MS fight for the right to adopt

Gay couples in MS fight for the right to adopt
Diane Ellis is part of the Plaintiff team in the case, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services. (Image Source: WLOX News)
Diane Ellis is part of the Plaintiff team in the case, Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services. (Image Source: WLOX News)

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The next big fight for same sex-couples is underway; lifting the ban on adoption for gay couples. Wednesday, a federal lawsuit was filed by four same-sex couples in Mississippi, challenging the constitutionality of this ban. Mississippi is the last state to ban gay couples from adopting, and a local attorney is helping to change that.

Diane Ellis, of Ellis Law Firm in Ocean Springs, is part of the team that's fighting to give same sex couples the right to adopt children in Mississippi.

"There's a pile of cases in Mississippi that say the polestar consideration is the best interest of the child, and this ban completely ignores that," said Ellis.

According to the lawsuit, Mississippi's adoption law has one sentence that reads "adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited." The plaintiffs argue that the sentence is discriminatory and doesn't take into consideration how qualified the couples are.

"Same sex couples don't get children by accident. They don't accidentally get pregnant. If a same sex couple has a child, it's because they desperately wanted a child," said Ellis.

Ellis is not new to this sort of situation, having already helped a gay couple adopt twins through private adoption last year.

"I had represented one of those plaintiff couples in adopting a child, twins, Becky and Andrea Bickett," said Ellis.

Becky adopted twin boys when they were nine months old, but Andrea does not have any legal rights to the children because of the ban.

"As long as those two people remain together as a couple, the children have two parents, but if one of the partners was to die, the one that's the legal parent of the children was to die, then that leaves those children with no legal parent," said Ellis.

Ellis says she is hopeful the state won't fight them on this lawsuit the way they did against marriage equality.

"I wouldn't be surprised if this was real fast. I think the biggest stumbling block was getting gay marriage legalized," said Ellis.

Gov. Phil Bryant issued this statement about the suit: The current statutory law in Mississippi prohibits adoption by couples of the same gender. This prohibition was added by the Legislature in 2000. I hope the Attorney General will vigorously defend the State of Mississippi against this lawsuit.

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