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Federal Judge Lifts Mississippi Ban on Adoption for Same-Sex Couples

Marriage Equality
Ted Eytan/Flickr

U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan described the 16-year-old law as 'unconstitutional'

A federal judge overturned Mississippi's ban on allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.

In a court ruling issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan ruled in favor of a lesbian couple who had sued the state.

Judge Jordan said that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions legalizing gay marriage and benefits for gay couples made the ban unconstitutional, and ordered the Department of Human Services to stop enforcing it.

"I am overwhelmed with joy," Hattiesburg resident Kathy Garner, one of the plaintiffs, told ABC News. "For us, this has been a long time in the making." Garner and her wife Susan Hrostowski opened a case to allow Hrostowski to adopt 16-year-old Hudson, Garner's son.

Jordan wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage included other benefits associated with marriage, such as adoption. This unprecedented move overturns a ban that went into effect in 2000, and opens up same-sex adoption to all 50 states.

"The ban is effectively over," Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, told the Associated Press by telephone. "DHS will have a very, very hard time convincing a judge on appeal."

The couples were backed by the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Family Equality Council.

Until now, same-sex couples in all states, except Mississippi, could petition for joint adoption statewide. Couples are usually required to be in a legally-recognized relationship, such as a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership.

States that explicitly allow same-sex couples to petition for a second parent adoption currently include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Vermont.

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