Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood defended his decision to defend Mississippi in a lawsuit against the state's same-sex adoption ban today, calling it a procedural issue.
The Campaign for Southern Equality recently sued the Mississippi Department of Human Services to challenge the constitutionality of the ban, the last law in the nation that still has an absolute ban preventing same-sex couples from adopting regardless of the couples' qualifications.
In a motion filed Sept. 11, Hood stated that Mississippi is not required to allow same-sex couples to adopt, maintaining that the state should continue to encourage adoption by opposite sex couples.
In an interview with the Jackson Free Press this afternoon, Hood said the plaintiffs should have gone through a chancery court and initiated an adoption proceeding. He added that it's his responsibility to defend the state in the case.
"That's who applies that law, not the attorney general not the Department of Human Services," Hood said, referring to chancery court. "There's a difference between gay marriage and gay adoption and they need to be in the proper forum, in state court."
Hood's motion states: “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 leans on a decade-old decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court, Lofton v. Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services, in which the court upheld a Florida ban on adoption by same-sex couples because LGBT couldn't marry at the time.
“Governor Bryant and Attorney General Hood continue to demonstrate that they’d rather continue legal discrimination against LGBT families than give children in need the best chance of finding a loving home,” said Rob Hill, state director of the Human Rights Campaign Mississippi in a statement. “Despite this discriminatory ban, Mississippi has one of the highest numbers of LGBT people raising children than anywhere in the country. Every major child welfare organization agrees that same-sex couples are just as capable of raising loved and well-adjusted children and their hetereosexual counterparts. Shame on the governor and attorney general for asserting otherwise, shame on them for not working in the best interests of children, and shame on them for continuing to keep the Magnolia State tethered to a discriminatory past.”