>> Judge Blocks Mississippi Ban on Adoption by Same-Sex Couples
Un juge fédéral américain a émis ce jeudi une injonction préliminaire contre la législation de l’État du Mississippi qui, en dépit de la décision historique de la Cour Suprême en juin 2015 d’autoriser le mariage pour tous, incluant expressément le droit à l’adoption, l’interdisait formellement pour les couples de même sexe.
« Il semble improbable que la cour, qui a jugé qu’un État ne pouvait interdire le mariage aux homosexuel car cela reviendrait à leur refuser les mêmes avantages que les couples hétérosexuels, puisse ensuite leur nier ces mêmes droits qui y sont pourtant rattachés », a estimé le juge Daniel Jordan. Il avait été saisi par la plainte de couples qui contestaient cette législation qualifiée d’« inconstitutionnelle » et entérinée depuis l’an 2000 par l’ancien gouverneur Ronnie Musgrove, qui l’avait toutefois ensuite regretté. D’autres États tels que l’Alabama ou la Floride avaient également mis en place des mesures similaires avant de finalement les annuler.
« Nos clients ont attendu des années pour devenir légalement les parents de leurs enfants, qu’ils ont pourtant aimés et élevés depuis leur naissance », a indiqué leur avocate. « Nous espérons désormais que cette décision soit suffisamment claire : La discrimination contre les couples homosexuels en raison de leur orientation, viole la Constitution dans les 50 États. »
Le directeur de l’antenne de Human Rights Campaign pour le Mississippi, Rob Hill, s’est également félicité de cette décision, soulignant dans son communiqué que les couples de même sexe qui souhaitent adopter ou accueillir des enfants « ont droit à l’égalité de traitement en vertu de la loi, censée garantir le bien-être des enfants qui ont besoin d’un foyer aimant. »
Le recensement national de la population en 2010 a révélé que 29% des couples de même sexe avaient des enfants. Et selon une enquête menée par l’Université de Californie, à Los Angeles en 2014, plus de 1400 bambins grandissaient paisiblement dans le Mississippi au sein de quelque 996 familles homoparentales.
>> A federal judge has overturned Mississippi’s ban on allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.
The injunction blocks Mississippi – which has been deemed America’s least tolerant state – from enforcing its 16-year-old anti-gay adoption law.
The Supreme Court ruling “foreclosed litigation over laws interfering with the right to marry and rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage,” Jordan wrote in his ruling.
“It also seems highly unlikely that the same court that held a state cannot ban gay marriage because it would deny benefits — expressly including the right to adopt — would then conclude that married gay couples can be denied that very same benefit.”
The challenge to Mississippi’s law was filed last year by four same-sex couples, who were joined in their fight by the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Family Equality Council.
“Two sets of our clients have waited many years to become legal parents to the children they have loved and cared for since birth,” Roberta Kaplan, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said.
“We hope that it should finally be clear that discrimination against gay people simply because they are gay violates the Constitution in all 50 states, including Mississippi.”
The Human Rights Campaign’s Mississippi state director Rob Hill also praised the ruling.
“This welcome decision affirms that qualified same-sex couples in Mississippi seeking to become adoptive or foster parents are entitled to equal treatment under the law, and commits to the well-being of children in our state who need loving homes,” he said in a statement.
The one-sentence Mississippi law — which reads, simply, “Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited” — was adopted in 2000.
Several other states – including Alabama, Florida, Nebraska and Michigan – have previously overturned similar bans.
The ruling came soon after Mississippi’s Senate passed a “religious freedom“ bill, its most homophobic to date.
« I am overwhelmed with joy, » Hattiesburg resident Kathy Garner said. She and wife Susan Hrostowski sued to allow Hrostowski to adopt 16-year-old Hudson Garner. « For us, this has been a long time in the making. »
Garner said the couple had contacted their local lawyer and planned to file adoption papers in Forrest County Chancery Court as early as Friday. Hudson, who wrote a first-person account of a Nov. 6 hearing, was more understated Thursday.
« He had a typical 16-year-old response, » Kathy Garner said. « He said ‘Cool.’ Then he said congratulations. Then he said he was going to take a nap. »
Jordan wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage included other benefits associated with marriage, such as adoption.
« It also seems highly unlikely that the same court that held a state cannot ban gay marriage because it would deny benefits — expressly including the right to adopt — would then conclude that married gay couples can be denied that very same benefit, » he wrote.
Rachel Ring, a spokeswoman for Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood noted that Jordan dismissed a number of defendants in the case.
« The district court did direct the Department of Human Services not to discriminate between same-sex and opposite-sex couples in adoption related services provided by that agency, » Ring wrote in an email. « We respect the district court’s analysis of the law and will consult with the Department of Human Services on what options to take going forward. »
Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, expressed confidence that any appeal would be fruitless.
« The ban is effectively over, » she 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.
Progress for gay rights in Mississippi after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision has been mixed. There have been no reports of clerks refusing marriage licenses, and the state Supreme Court ruled that two women married elsewhere could get a divorce in Mississippi. But the Legislature is considering a bill that would allow government employees and some private business people to cite their own religious objections to same-sex marriage to deny services to gay or lesbian couples.
The University of California, Los Angeles, found in 2014 that 996 same-sex couples were raising 1,401 children in Mississippi. Census data from 2010 showed that 29 percent of same-sex couples had children at home, the largest share of same-sex households in any state.
Mississippi lawmakers banned adoptions by same-sex couples in 2000. Then-Gov. Ronnie Musgrove signed the ban said last year he regretted the action.