Was judge pushing anti-gay agenda?

Walker appointee rapped for treatment of same-sex couple in surrogacy case.

A former Dane County judge appointed by Gov. Scott Walker likened surrogacy to “human trafficking” and took highly unusual steps that added tens of thousands of dollars in costs for a gay couple seeking to add to their family.

Judge James Troupis’ actions, which included denying parental rights to the couple, were overturned by another Dane County judge and have also been appealed to the state Court of Appeals. And they arguably violated the ethical standards in place for members of the judiciary.anonymous sperm donors

Troupis, who has since left the bench, in August 2015 appointed a Waukesha County law firm that employs an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage to assist in the case. That resulted in hefty additional legal fees for Jay Timmons and Rick Olson as they attempted to become the legal parents to their infant son, born to a surrogate in Wisconsin. And the couple says the judge wreaked emotional havoc on their family by keeping the child’s legal status in limbo for 10 months.

In early July, Dane County Judge Peter Anderson vacated Troupis’ order, giving Timmons and Olson parental rights to Jacob, who will be a year old in August. Troupis had already terminated the parental rights of the surrogate, who never contested the contract she had with Timmons and Olson.

Anderson raised serious concerns about his former colleague’s conduct in the case, calling it “harsh,” “weird” and “faulty,” according to an online account by Timmons of his family’s ordeal. Anderson said Troupis’ decision also contained a “manifest error” of the law, Timmons wrote.

Kevin St. John, one of the attorneys for the couple, did not return a call seeking comment on the appeal or whether his clients intend to file a complaint against Troupis with the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. The code of judicial conduct prohibits judges from, among other things, performing their duties with bias or prejudice.

“A judge may not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct, manifest bias or prejudice, including bias or prejudice based upon race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, and may not knowingly permit staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.”

Timmons and Olson live in McLean, Va., a high-end suburb of Washington, D.C. Timmons is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, which, according to his bio, is the “largest manufacturing association in the United States representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector.” Timmons also formerly worked for several Republican lawmakers.

The couple, who also have two young daughters, received a gift of two frozen embryos from friends about two years ago. After spending about a year researching legal issues, they sought out a surrogate in Wisconsin, believing state law here clearly allowed a same-gender couple to be recognized as parents of a child born through surrogacy. According to court documents, the surrogate was paid $35,000.

About two months before the expected birth, on June 25, 2015, reserve judge Sarah O’Brien held a hearing on the couple’s petition for parental rights. O’Brien’s interim order awarding them parental rights was expected to be finalized upon Jacob’s birth.

by Judith Davidoff, July 18, 2016

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Same-Sex Parents Still Face Obstacles Under New York’s Standing Rules

Prior to the tragic events of Sunday, June 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida, one might have felt optimistic about the evolving societal acceptance of and respect for same-sex parents and the corresponding progressive state of family and matrimonial law.

We shared in the sense of uplift from the recent United States Supreme Court decisions in United States v. Windsor and, especially, in Obergefell. v. Hodges, decided a little over one year ago on June 26, 2015. Obergefell dealt in sweeping fashion with discriminatory and unconstitutional objections to marriage for same-sex couples. As set forth in Justice Anthony Kennedy’s dramatic and moving language, the need for same-sex parents, and the children of those relationships, to be granted the social dignity and the many societal benefits that go along with stepping into the light of mainstream acceptance by virtue of a nationwide right to marry is required by the equal protection mandates of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.gay parents adoption

In concluding that its “analysis compels the conclusion that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry,” 576 U.S. 12 (2015), the Supreme Court in Obergefell detailed not just the importance of being able to enter the institution of marriage, but the need for same-sex couples to do so on fully equal footing as other couples, through the front door, and stressed in its exhaustive analysis that the focus should not be on how these couples love, but that they love and wish for that love to be reflected in their social standing.

Choices about marriage shape an individual’s destiny. As the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has explained, because “it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition. Goodridge, 440 Mass., at 322, 798 N.E. 2d at 955″ cited at 576 U.S. 13 (2015).

As this court held in Lawrence, same sex couples have the same right as opposite-sex couples to enjoy intimate association. Lawrence invalidated laws that made same-sex intimacy a criminal act. And it acknowledged that “[w]hen sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring. 539 U.S. at 567. But while Lawrence confirmed a dimension of freedom that allows individuals to engage in intimate association without criminal liability, it does not follow that freedom stops there. Outlaw to outcast may be a step forward, but it does not achieve the full promise of liberty.

576 U.S. at 14.

Further, Justice Kennedy singled out the importance of the right to marry to the children of these relationships.

Excluding same sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families to be somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.

576 at U.S. 15.

In New York, the passage of the Marriage Equality Act in 2011 directed that all of the laws, benefits and obligations bestowed by the Domestic Relations Law with regard to marriage be read and implemented without regard to sexual orientation, and, if necessary to do that, in a gender neutral way.

Section 10-a. Parties to a marriage.

1. A marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex.

2. No government treatment or legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage, whether deriving from statute, administrative or court rule, public policy, common law or any other source of law, shall differ based on the parties to the marriage being or having been of the same sex rather than a different sex. When necessary to implement the rights and responsibilities of spouses under the law, all gender specific language or terms shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner in all such sources of law.

Yet, despite the passage of the Marriage Equality Act and the newfound nationwide ability to marry, the courts in New York are contending with circumstances in which same-sex families were formed and children brought into them by using strategies that pre-date the ability of same-sex couples to marry. This approach has potentially devastating consequences when those families and their respective rights are addressed in divorce and family court proceedings. These problems arise from, and the courts continue to wrestle with the vestiges of, a rule established by the New York Court of Appeals a generation ago in Alison D. v. Virginia M., 77 N.Y.2d 651 (1991), which set the stage for categorical discrimination against same-sex parents based upon their lack of a biological or adoptive relationship to a child.

The impact of Alison D. was eroded somewhat by the Court of Appeals decision in Debra H. v. Janice R., 14 N.Y.3d 576 (2010), which, through application of comity, recognized parental standing of a non-biological non-adoptive parent in 2010 based upon Vermont’s judicially created rules granting standing based upon the couple’s civil union in Vermont. However, without the right to marry or enter into a civil union in New York at the time, children of unmarried same-sex couples in New York were not afforded the same benefits and protections.

This discrimination is not so easily remedied by the directives of the Marriage Equality Act because many of the parents involved in these situation were not or are not married at the time that their children are born and because the conceptual framework for the denial of standing is based upon a biologically based terminology that is found throughout the family and matrimonial law. This terminology reflects a fixation with the biomechanics of conception, a fixation which runs deeper than mere gender assumptions. Instead of a focus on the “best interest” of children, which is the bedrock determination of all other matters related to their custody and welfare in New York matrimonial and family law, the New York Supreme, Family and Surrogate’s Courts continue to trip over the threshold issues of “standing” when it comes to same-sex parents because of references to “birth” parents or the heterosexual and gender assumptions implied by the use of the word “paternity.” For example, a “paternity” test directed in Family Court proceeding continues to only apply to men and only to establish the biological relationship of men to children obviously born to women. Perforce, this excludes same-sex couples.

By Meg Canby and Caroline Krauss Browne

law.com

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IVF Does Not Raise Breast Cancer Risk, Study Shows

Women undergoing in vitro fertilization have long worried that the procedure could raise their risk for breast cancer.

After all, the IVF treatment requires temporarily increasing levels of certain sex hormones to five or 10 times the normal. Two of those hormones, estrogen and progesterone, can affect the course of certain kinds of breast cancer.

A series of studies over the past decade suggested that these former patients may have little to worry about. Experts remained cautious, however, because women who had undergone IVF in the 1980s had not yet reached menopause by the time of the research.adopting a child, how to adopt a child, adopt a child,Egg donors

But the largest, most comprehensive study to date, published on Tuesday, provides further reassurance: It finds no increased risk among women who have undergone I.V.F.

“The main takeaway is there’s no evidence of an increased subsequent risk of breast cancer, at least in the first couple decades,” said Dr. Saundra S. Buys, an oncologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, who was not involved in the new study.

The issue has nagged at specialists in reproductive medicine for some time. In 2008, a retrospective analysis of medical records, which the authors called “preliminary,” found a potential increase in breast cancer among IVF patients older than 40.

Another small study of participants at a single treatment center in Israel reported an increased risk of breast cancer among women who start IVF after 30.

Maddeningly, later findings went the other way, seeming to suggest the danger — if there were one — may be greater for younger women.

A study with roughly 21,000 participants, published in 2012, found that women in Western Australia who began I.V.F. at 24 years old or younger had an increased risk of breast cancer. No such link was found among women in their 30s or 40s.

In 2013, though, researchers published a meta-analysis of eight smaller studies tentatively suggesting that I.V.F. didn’t seem to raise breast cancer risk overall.

But it did not rule out the possibility that breast cancer might turn up in a bigger group of women tracked more closely for an even longer period. Experts also worried that infertility itself, not only its treatment, might somehow be linked to breast cancer.

Today’s report, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, goes a long way toward answering the lingering questions.

by Catherine Saint Louis

New York Times, July 19, 2016

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Co-Parenting – One More Option For Creating Your Family

Co-Parenting is fast becoming an alternative to adoption, surrogacy and IVF for many in the LGBT community who want to have a family on their terms.

Co-parenting is quickly becoming a viable option for gay and lesbian individuals who want to be parents. Co-parenting also requires an incredible amount of care and preparation to ensure that all parties, and particularly the children, are protected and acknowledged legally.

Co-Parenting Defined

In a co-parenting relationship, two individuals who are not romantically involved come together for the purpose of having a child and parenting that child with a mother and a father. The key to understanding co-parenting is in the intention of the mother and father.  Many enter into co-parenting relationships because they do not want to be single parents and acknowledge their desire for their children to have a maternal and a paternal influence.co-parenting

Protecting a Co-Parenting Relationship: The Co-Parenting Agreement

Before entering into a co-parenting relationship, it is crucial to understand the legalities of parenting, as well as the potential pitfalls that may accompany this nontraditional parenting form. First, by becoming a parent, the mother and the father have a fiduciary responsibility to that child, and if the co-parenting arrangement dissolves, to one another in a child support proceeding.  This means that if both parties are not contributing financially to the child’s upbringing, either parent may bring a support action in family court.

Spelling out these financial terms, as well as visitation schedules, educational and religious training is the purview of the co-parenting agreement. The mother and the father will both have separate legal representation in the drafting and execution of a co-parenting agreement and the process of creating a comprehensive agreement will be very helpful for the parties to both feel comfortable with one another and the terms of their individual parenting visions.

Where Can You Meet a Potential Co-Parent?

As this new method of parenting has become more and more popular, so has an internet support industry of which I am a part. Websites such as FamilyByDesign.com, of which I am a legal consultant, and Modamily.com offer information to potential co-parents, as well as a database of individuals who are interested in becoming co-parents to find other such individuals.  Many LGBT Centers around the country now have family divisions that include information and networking about co-parenting.

Special Considerations

One very important aspect of co-parenting lies in the reality that the primary parents may have committed relationships with people other than the other co-parent.   This may be due to their sexual orientation or relationship status when entering into the co-parenting relationship.  Some states now have the ability to name more than two legal parents for a child. But more often than not, these “third party” individuals do not have legal relationships with the children of their romantic partners.  Primary parents must create these rights for their romantic partners by executing medical authorizations and guardianship provisions for the children.

For more information about co-parenting, contact Anthony M. Brown at Time for Families and speak to a specialist family lawyer to secure your and your family’s future.

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California Approves LGBT History Lessons for Classrooms

References to gay Americans and events start in second grade.

SAN FRANCISCO—In second grade, California students will learn about families with two moms or two dads. Two years later, while studying how immigrants have shaped the Golden State, they will hear how New York native Harvey Milk became a pioneering gay politician in San Francisco.

California education officials approved those changes in classroom instruction Thursday to comply with the nation’s first law requiring public schools to include prominent gay people and LGBT-rights milestones in history classes.gay family values

The State Board of Education adopted the updates as part of a broader overhaul of California’s history and social-science curriculum. Dozens of people attending the meeting criticized the way Muslims, Hindus and Jews are discussed, but no one spoke out against the new treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

“We are proud to represent a diverse state, and we are proud that this framework reflects the state that we serve,” said Lauryn Wild, a Southern California curriculum specialist who chairs the advisory commission that produced the new guidelines.

They weave references to gay Americans and events throughout the history and social-science curriculum, starting in second grade through discussions about diverse families and again in fourth grade with lessons on California’s place in the gay-rights movement.

The guidelines also touch on the topics in fifth and eighth grade—looking at gender roles in the 18th and 19th centuries and examples of individuals who flouted them—and throughout high school.

A capstone of sorts will come in U.S. government courses, where seniors would learn about the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide and recent court cases involving bathroom access for transgender students.

The changes are designed to satisfy legislation passed by California lawmakers five years ago that added LGBT Americans and people with disabilities to the list of social and ethnic groups whose contributions schools are supposed to teach and must appear in kindergarten through eighth-grade textbooks.

The legislation also prohibited classroom materials that reflect adversely on gays or particular religions.

The law took effect in January 2012, but its implementation was slowed by opponents’ failed attempts to overturn it, competing educational priorities and budget cuts that stalled work on drafting recommendations for the school board and textbook purchases.

While some school districts and teachers made efforts to incorporate gay history since the law passed, many were nervous about tackling the topic without explicit guidance from the state, said Carolyn Laub, a consultant for a group of LGBT parents called Our Family Coalition.

“If educators perceive, rightly or wrongly, they may not get support from their administration if they face pushback from a parent who says, ‘I don’t want you talking to my kid about that,’ they are reluctant to do a whole lot of inclusion,” Ms. Laub said.

Associated Press  -July 14, 2016

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GOP Passes ‘Most Anti-LGBT Platform’ in History, Log Cabin Republicans Shocked

Led by some of the nation’s most anti-lgbt politicians and even the head of an anti-gay hate group, Republicans late Tuesday voted on and passed the final draft of the GOP 2016 platform.

The Log Cabin Republicans issued a fundraising email immediately, shocked, apparently, telling supporters, “moments ago, the Republican Party passed the most anti-LGBT Platform in the Party’s 162-year history.”politics, corrosive politics

 

“Opposition to marriage equality, nonsense about bathrooms, an endorsement of the debunked psychological practice of “pray the gay away” — it’s all in there,” the email reads, as the Miami Herald’s Steve Rothaus reports.

“This isn’t my GOP, and I know it’s not yours either,” wrote Log Cabin President Gregory T. Angelo. “Heck, it’s not even Donald Trump’s!,” he claims, although that’s debatable.

When given a chance to follow the lead of our presumptive presidential nominee and reach out to the LGBT community in the wake of the awful terrorist massacre in Orlando on the gay nightclub Pulse, the Platform Committee said NO.”

As NCRM has been reporting all week, along with passing an amendment calling for an unconstitutional “religious freedom” bill, the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) to become law, the GOP platform committee passed a plank that effectively says children raised in a “traditional” family are better off than children raised by same-sex parents or single parents.

thenewcivilrightsmovement.com, July 13, 2016

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10 Insights of Remarkable Parenting from a Family Therapist

At any given time you’ll find 4 or more parenting books on my Amazon wish list, a few by my nightstand, and an email box chock full of remarkable parenting theories and approaches. 

Granted, child development is my career, but I speak with plenty of parents in my practice who find themselves in similar circumstances. With information around every corner and our culture projecting constant messages (many times contradictory) regarding how we should raise our kids, feeling like a confident and intentional parent can seem out of reach many days.

In my 12 years as a family therapist, I’ve seen many well-intentioned parents mistakenly employing strategies that aren’t meeting the emotional or developmental needs of their children or families. I’ve also observed an increasing number of parents that are successfully mapping out new and healthier ways of raising children. 

These insights, collected over time and gleaned from experience, parallel what we know from current brain and behavioral research about what kind of parenting is most likely to contribute to the healthy development of children. more gay couples are embracing surrogacy

1 | Know that kids will act like kids

Often parents forget that the way a child’s learning begins is by screwing up. Making mistakes. Behaving immaturelyThe ‘magic’ happens when a supportive caregiver then steps in to steer them in the right direction. We get frustrated and impatient, becoming annoyed with whininess and ‘back talk’ when really, this is how kids are wired. 

The part of the brain responsible for reason, logic and impulse control is not fully developed until a person reaches their early 20’s. Immature behavior is normal for immature human beings with immature brains. This is a scientific reality that helps us to be patient and supportive in order to guide our children when they struggle. 

2 | Set limits with respect, not criticism

Due to the fact that our kids need to learn literally everything about the world from us, they will require many limits throughout their day. Without proper limits in their environment, kids will feel anxious and out of control. 

Limits can be delivered in the form of criticism and shaming, or they can be communicated in a firm but respectful way.  Think about how you appreciate being spoken to at work and go from there.

3 | Be aware of developmental stages

Have you ever questioned where your easy-going toddler disappeared to as he was suddenly screaming bloody murder while getting dropped off at daycare? Hello separation anxiety! 

There are literally hundreds of very normal, very healthy transitions kids go through to become adults. Being aware of these puts their puzzling behaviors into context, and increases the odds of reacting to them accurately and supportively. 

4 | Know your child’s temperament and personality.

It seems pretty obvious, but if we are in tune with the characteristics that make our child unique, we will have a better understanding of when they may need additional support, and when and where they will thrive. 

Once you know the basics of what makes your child tick, many important areas become much easier to navigate, such as pinpointing the best environment for homework, or understanding why your daughter needs to come home from overnight summer camp.

5 | Give your child plenty of unstructured play time

Unless you studied play therapy in school, most adults will never fully understand and appreciate the power of play. 

Play is how kids learn all the things and develop all the stuff. This means leaving time each day for straight-up unstructured, kid-controlled, exploration of the world kind of play. 

6 | Know when to talk and when to listen

Kids learn to be pretty good problem solvers if we let them. Because we love the life out of them and want them to succeed, it’s hard not to jump in and solve problems for them by virtue of lecture or criticism.2

If parents more often held their tongues and waited it out, they’d be shocked at how often their children can successfully reach their own conclusions. Being heard is powerfully therapeutic, and it allows us to think things through and reach a solution.3

Kids want and need to be heard, and feel understood. Just like the rest of us.2

7 | Have an identity outside of your child

Many of us often claim that our children are our world, and this is certainly true in our hearts. In terms of daily life however, parents need to have more. We need to nurture the friendships, passions and hobbies that make us who we are as individuals. 

Doing this can feel like a battle, as our protective anxieties try to convince us our children can’t be without us, and also that we can’t be without them. But we can be, and need to be,in order to stay sane, and avoid saddling our kids with the task of meeting all of ouremotional needs.

by Angela Pruess, June 15, 2016  parent.co

In win for gay couples, Maryland high court recognizes de facto parents rights

Maryland’s highest court has ruled that non-biological parents, de facto parents,  who live with and help raise children also have parental rights, overturning a 2008 decision that gay and lesbian advocates considered devastating to same-sex couples.

In a unanimous ruling issued Thursday, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that family-court judges can consider whether persons are de facto parents in custody and visitation cases. Advocates say Maryland was one of a few states that considered such parents strangers in the eyes of the law.

De facto parents can include the partner of a lesbian who undergoes artificial insemination, a gay man whose partner adopts a child from a country that does not allow same-sex couples to jointly adopt, or a straight man who raises a child with a woman for years without formal adoption.gay parents adoption

Until the 2008 court decision, such people generally had the ability to maintain some parental rights in Maryland even when their relationships with their partners crumbled.

Then the Court of Appeals ruled against a Baltimore County woman who sought custody or visitation rights with a girl who had been adopted by her ex-partner. The court said “third party” parents should not be treated differently from other third parties seeking custody. That meant they would need to show exceptional circumstances or that the legal parent was unfit in order to be awarded time with children they had helped raise.

This week’s ruling concerned a different case and reversed the precedent set by the court in 2008. Denying rights to third-party parents “is ‘clearly wrong’ and has been undermined by the passage of time,” Judge Sally Adkins wrote in the decision.

LGBT advocates hailed the ruling for correcting what they saw as a continuing injustice against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, even after voters legalized same-sex marriage in 2012.

“Now Maryland joins the majority of other states in taking those parents and children out of limbo and putting them in solid legal footing,” said Jer Welter, a lawyer with FreeState Justice who represented plaintiff Michael Conover in the case ruled on this week.

Mr. Conover is a transgender man who had married a woman before undergoing his gender transition. Their wedding took place in the District, which legalized same-sex marriage before Maryland did. Courts treated him and his ex-wife as a same-sex couple for the purpose of the dispute.

Brittany Conover gave birth in 2010 to a child, Jaxon, who was fathered by a sperm donor selected with the input of Mr. Conover, then known as Michelle, according to court records. The couple separated the next year and divorced in 2013.

Ms. Conover stopped allowing her spouse to visit in 2012. She argued in a later custody battle that her former partner never adopted Jaxon and was not listed as a parent on the child’s birth certificate.

Lower courts agreed that Mr. Conover lacked parental rights. The Court of Appeals ruling returns the case to a Washington County judge with the concept of a de facto parent restored in law.

“I am elated that the state’s highest court has ruled that people like me should have our relationships with our children legally protected,” Mr. Conover said in a statement.

R. Martin Palmer Jr., an attorney for Ms. Conover, said the court usurped the role of lawmakers in defining a parent and may have created a situation in which stepfathers can take control of children from capable mothers.

By Fenit Nirappil / The Washington Post, July 9, 2016

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Judge: Lesbian has no parental rights because she didn’t marry partner

A woman whose same-sex relationship ended before same-sex marriage became legal doesn’t have parental rights to a child born to her partner in 2008, the Michigan appeals court said Wednesday.

The decision, which comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage across the country, will stand as a key precedent in similar disputes in Michigan involving children who were raised by gays and lesbians in relationships that ended.

adoption for gay couples

over a white background

Michelle Lake and Kerri Putnam were together for 13 years until 2014 but didn’t marry during that time. Lake said she deserves to enjoy the rights that would have been granted to her if they had been married.

Putnam gave birth to a boy, now 8, during their relationship, but she no longer allows Lake to see him.

“We simply do not believe it is appropriate for courts to retroactively impose the legal ramifications of marriage onto unmarried couples several years after their relationship has ended,” the appeals court said. “That, in our view, is beyond the role of the judiciary.”

The court said Lake has no parental rights under Michigan law because the boy wasn’t born during a marriage.

Associated Press – July 7, 2016

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Same-Sex Couples Can Now Adopt In Every State

Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children is unconstitutional, making gay adoption legal in all 50 states.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Jordan issued a preliminary injunction against the ban, citing the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide last summer. The injunction blocks Mississippi from enforcing its 16-year-old anti-gay adoption law.

The Supreme Court ruling “foreclosed litigation over laws interfering with the right to marry and rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage,” Jordan wrote. “It also seems highly unlikely that the same court that held a state cannot ban gay marriage because it would deny benefits — expressly including the right to adopt — would then conclude that married gay couples can be denied that very same benefit.”

Mississippi HRC state director Rob Hill said this of the ruling:

Friday, July 1, 2016 via The Vital Voice

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