JACKSON, Mississippi. Many states offer anti-discrimination protection to gay Americans. Supporters of LGBTQ rights believe that protections against discrimination should extend to all areas of American life, including to gay adoption. Until the recent Supreme Court ruling that extended gay marriage to all 50 states, many states prohibited gays and lesbians from adopting. In 2016 and 2017, several Supreme Court rulings finally granted gays and lesbians the right to adopt across the country.
However, there remain several pending cases that could impact gay and lesbian adoptions, especially in Mississippi where religious liberty laws hold firm. There has been some dispute about how far religious liberty rights protect gays and lesbians from possibly being denied an adoption. For example, if a social worker performs a home study and the couple is gay and lesbian, can the social worker deny the couple the adoption due to his or her sincerely held religious beliefs? According to the Huffington Post, the Supreme Court may soon hear complex cases involving religious liberty and LGBTQ rights. For example, in Texas, a case is making its way through the courts that claims that housing and employment protections for LGBTQ people violate religious freedom laws in the state.
In Texas, for example, adoption and foster care agencies can turn away LGBTQ couples if they claim that such an adoption could violate their sincerely held beliefs. According to Reuters, nine states allow state-funded adoption agencies to deny adoptions to LGBTQ couples. Mississippi is one of those states. This means that same-sex couples may face additional barriers on the road to adoption in Mississippi.
The cases raise many questions about whether religious agencies should receive federal funding if they are permitted to deny couples adoptions based on religious beliefs and whether gay and lesbian couples are being discriminated to the point of being unable to find adoption agencies with whom they can work.
After the recent Masterpiece Bakeshop case, it appears that the Supreme Court will, in some cases, rule in favor of protecting free speech and a person’s right to refuse service to gays and lesbians in some contexts. However, in the context of a government office or official capacity, the ability to refuse service is much more strictly limited based on recent court cases. Adoption agencies tend to reside in a gray area between the private and public sector, because many receive federal funding but are run by religious organizations.
Are you trying to adopt? Are you concerned that you’ll face barriers due to discrimination in your community? Have you been having difficulty adopting and believe your sexual orientation or gender identification may be part of why you are facing challenges?
The Law Office of Andrew Sorrentino, P.L.L.C. is an adoption lawyer in Jackson, Mississippi who works closely with couples who want to grow their families through adoption. If you are looking to adopt, and have questions about the process or need assistance with the process and paperwork, reach out to https://www.andrewsorrentinolegal.com/ to learn more.