It doesn't matter what the Supreme Court said about marriage equality, the governor of Mississippi is defending his state’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples.
Gov. Phil Bryant and Jim Hood, the state's attorney general, argued to a federal court last week that the ban remains constitutional, despite the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage, reports BuzzFeed.
Bryant, Hood, and Richard Berry — the executive director of the state’s Department of Human Services — are being sued by same-sex couples challenging Section 93-17-3(5), a provision adopted in the state’s constitution in 2002. The provision declares, “Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.”
Four married same-sex couples, alongside the organizations Campaign for Southern Equality and Family Equality Council, filed the lawsuit in August. They cited two U.S. Supreme Court cases in their challenge of the ban: Obergefell v. Hodges (the June marriage equality decision) and United States v. Windsor, which struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.
“The Supreme Court has now left no ambiguity: Gay couples must be granted the same ‘equal dignity in the eyes of the law’ as straight couples,” maintained their lawyers, headed by Windsor’s Roberta Kaplan.
However, in a document filed by the state Friday, Hood (pictured above) claimed that these couples “are not likely to succeed on the merits of their claims against the defendants." In addition to arguing that adoption falls outside the jurisdiction of the officials who were sued, Hood maintained that Kaplan's argument is "over-extending" the meaning and intent of the cited Supreme Court decisions.
“While the Supreme Court’s decisions in Obergefell v. Hodges and United States v. Windsor recently established that the federal and state governments must recognize valid same sex marriages, and states must license them, over-extending those decisions to purportedly invalidate Section 93-17-3(5) through a preliminary injunction would be entirely inappropriate,” Hood said.
To bolster his argument, Hood cited Lofton v. Butterworth, a 2004 case in which the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Florida’s then-standing ban on adoption by gays and lesbians. The ruling in Lofton praised the “vital role that dual-gender parenting plays in shaping sexual and gender identity” as opposed to “homosexual households, which are necessarily motherless or fatherless and lack the stability that comes with marriage.”
“For the same reasons Lofton rejected the plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment challenges to Florida’s statute, the movants lack a substantial likelihood of success on the merits here,” Hood declared.