Unconstitutional Gay Adoption Ban Dies in Mississippi, Local Advocates Attribute Victory to Deluge of Support

Affiliate: ACLU of Mississippi
March 16, 2000 12:00 am

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ACLU of Mississippi
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JACKSON, MS — In a victory for children in Mississippi and beyond, an unprecedented anti-adoption bill died in the Mississippi State House this afternoon. There is no way the bill can be revived this year.

The legislation would have banned gay and lesbian couples from adopting children, and — in an unusual, sweeping provision — it also would have forbidden the state of Mississippi from recognizing lesbian and gay adoptions that have previously been granted by courts in other states.

“This bill was unconstitutional, through and through,” said David Ingebretsen, Executive Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “Had it passed, it would have been struck down in federal court. But it also would have sent a dangerous message, which is why we’re particularly pleased with this victory.”

For the last week, current and former Mississippi residents took a stand for fairness in their home state, through the “Phone Home for Families” campaign. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people — as well as heterosexual people — who have moved away from Mississippi “phoned home,” calling Mississippi State House members who represent their former districts. Current residents also called representatives, telling them that a vote for the anti-adoption bill would be a vote against children.

“The response to this campaign was amazing. Coalition groups came on board, people nationwide spread the word to their friends and families, the online gay community mobilized and the result is clear – fairness prevailed in Mississippi today,” said Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.

Former Mississippi residents in Washington state, Texas, Massachusetts, Kentucky, California and elsewhere contacted Mississippi House members. Faculty and students at local universities organized against the bill, mobilizing people in every area of Mississippi to call their representatives.

“We are grateful beyond measure for the support and strength we have received from around this state – and throughout America,” Ingebretsen said. “This is a good day for the children of Mississippi, and for lesbians and gay men nationwide.”

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and other groups – along with lesbian and gay community centers and other local organizations nationwide – participated in the “Phone Home for Families” campaign.

For additional information about the Mississippi bill and “Phone Home for Families” campaign, read a March 9, 2000 release at http://archive.aclu.org/news/2000/n030900b.html. To learn more about lesbian and gay adoption in general, visit the Lesbian and Gay Rights section of the ACLU’s web site, http://archive.aclu.org/ .

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