Federal Court Hearing on November 6 in Legal Challenge to Mississippi’s ban on Same-Sex Adoption


Jackson, Miss. (November 2, 2015) – A hearing on the motion for a preliminary injunction has been set in Campaign for Southern Equality v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, a federal legal challenge to Mississippi’s law banning same-sex adoption. At 1 p.m. on November 6, both sides in the case will gather in federal court in Jackson, Mississippi before U.S. District Court Judge Daniel P. Jordan III.

Mississippi is the only state left in the nation that bans gay couples from adopting without regard for their qualifications as parents or the best interests of the child. The legal challenge case was filed on behalf of four same-sex couples: Kari Lunsford and Tinora Sweeten-Lunsford, who are seeking to adopt a child; Brittany Rowell and Jessica Harbuck, also seeking to adopt; Donna Phillips and Janet Smith, parents to a young daughter; and Kathryn Garner and Susan Hrostowski, who have a 15-year-old son. Two organizations — the Campaign for Southern Equality and Family Equality Council — join the case as plaintiffs representing the LGBT families across Mississippi.

“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.  We are confident in our arguments and look forward to presenting them in court on November 6,” says lead counsel Roberta Kaplan.

Lead counsel for the plaintiffs is Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.  Plaintiffs are also represented by Mississippi attorney Robert McDuff of McDuff & Byrd, based in Jackson, Mississippi.

Kaplan was also lead counsel in United States v. Windsor, the landmark case that struck down sections of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in June 2013.

Denise Brogan-Kator, State Policy Director of Family Equality Council, says: “All children must have the security and protection of being legally tied to their parents. Mississippi’s law has made children of LGBTQ parents second-class citizens for far too long. It’s time for the state to treat our families equally.”

“It’s time for Mississippi to treat LGBT families as equal in every area of the law — including the right to adopt,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, which has been advocating for LGBT equality across Mississippi since 2012 through public actions, public education campaigns and lawsuits.


Based in Asheville, North Carolina, the Campaign for Southern Equality is a non-profit organization that empowers LGBT individuals and families across the South and advocates for full legal equality for all.


Family Equality Council connects, supports, and represents the three million parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer in this country today and their six million children of all ages. For over 30 years, we have raised our children and raised our voices toward fairness for all families.


Aaron Sarver, Communications Director, Campaign for Southern Equality, 773.960.2857 (c), aaron@southernequality.org
Bradley Jacobs, Media Manager, Family Equality Council, 917.324.8771, bjacobs@familyequality.org