Couple fights to end same-sex couple adoption ban

HINDS COUNTY, Miss.– A federal judge hears more than four and a half hours of arguments to overturn or keep the same-sex adoption ban, but he didn’t make any decisions today

WJTV’s Lucy Dieckhaus was in the courtroom and spoke with a couple who wants to adopt.

Donna Phillips and Jan Smith are raising a young daughter together. They say this adoption ban forces their family to worry about her future.

“We live our lives just like everyone else. She was deployed. We struggled. It was hurtful. It was tough. With that we just want the same protection that everyone has for their children,” said Smith.

A short but powerful law is affecting many same-sex couples in Mississippi. It was challenged in federal court today.

Mississippi is the last state in the nation to have a law on the books that says same-sex couples can’t adopt children.

“My clients and their families are the same as everyone else’s families. The only thing that is right and good and just in this world is for us to have the same protection,” said Roberta Kaplan.

Because Phillips serves in the armed forces–her lawyer says Mississippi’s  law forces her and her family to live in fear.

“The concern that she has every day that God forbid something happen to her. She wants to assure that the wife and the child’s other mother will be the parent for that kid,” said Joshua Kaye.

Both the judge and attorneys referenced the landmark Supreme Court case declaring all same-sex couples have the right to wed.

“It’s very hard to say gay couples have the right to marry but they don’t have the right to adopt,” said Kaplan.

Phillips was asked very personal questions on the stand by a state attorney–and though she was emotional–her attorney says she stuck to her story.

“Nothing they said even though it was painful for them to talk about in court today really did anything to hurt our cause,” said Joshua Kaye.

But for Phillips and Smith, this is all about a fighting for their family and other same- sex couples.

“We want Jan’s name to be on our daughter’s birth certificate. That’s all we are looking for, so she has equal rights to take care of her and to do what’s necessary for our daughter,” said Phillips.

State attorneys say that although couples like Donna Phillips and Jan Smith have emotional arguments; they do not believe this ban is unconstitutional.

They pushed the judge to dismiss the case altogether.

Kaplan says the judge does not have an estimated timeline to make his ruling.

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