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WATCH: Ban on Adoption Challenged in Mississippi

WATCH: Ban on Adoption Challenged in Mississippi


The last state to ban adoption by same-sex couples has so far refused to declare the state law unconstitutional. 

Four Mississippi lesbian couples are pleading with a federal judge to declare the state's ban on adoption by same-sex couples unconstitutional, according to The Clarion-Ledger.

The state is the last in the nation to have such a ban, according to the Family Equality Council.

Plaintiffs in the case, which was heard in court Friday, include two couples who want to adopt a child and two couples who already have children not legally recognized as belonging to both parents. The complaint was filed in August with assistance from the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Family Equality Council.

The couples have asked a federal court to issue a preliminary injunction, preventing the state from enforcing the adoption ban, which was enacted in 2002. Their lead counsel, Roberta Kaplan, filed documents in October provided to The Advocate, countering the state's argument that her clients lack standing to challenge the ban, while also tearing apart a much-criticized study that has been used against gay parents.

Kaplan is no stranger to fighting for LGBT rights. Her highest profile case was representing Edie Windsor in Windsor v. U.S., which resulted in the 2013 Supreme Court decision negating the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

"The law is clear. In 2015, there can be no question that it is unconstitutional for Mississippi to bar gay couples from adopting for no reason other than that they happen to be gay," Kaplan told the Ledger. "We are very hopeful we will get the order we want."

However Mississippi Assistant Attorney General Justin Matheny, who is defending state law, argues the couples do not have standing because they not explicitly been denied the right to adopt.

"Notably absent from the amended complaint is a single allegation that any of the individual plaintiffs have filed adoption petitions in any of the defendant chancery districts," Matheny reportedly wrote in court papers. "The plaintiffs lack the requisite adversity against the judicial branch defendants for purposes of establishing a case or controversy for purposes of standing."

In court, plaintiff Donna Phillips (pictured above, right) became emotional explaining that she feared her partner Janet Smith (pictured above, left, with their daughter, Hannah Marie Phillips) would lose custody of their daughter if something were to happen to her. "I want Jan's name on the birth certificate and to have all the rights as I do as a parent," Phillips reportedly testified.

Phillips told The Associated Press that her parents stopped speaking to her after she joined the adoption lawsuit.

Brittany Rowell, 25 and Jessica Harbuck, 27 joined the lawsuit because they want to adopt a child. They plan to marry in January and want to start building a family according to Jackson, Miss. TV station WLBT.

"First comes love, then comes marriage, then hopefully if everything goes well, baby carriage? We'll see," Rowell told the station.

"This whole thing is about unifying families that are already in existence and trying to better the children of Mississippi," she said.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan III took the case under advisement, reported the Ledger, and there was no indication when he will make or announce his decision.

Watch a report from WLBT via NBC News below, and scroll down for more from the Ledger.

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