Kathy Garner and Susan Hrostowski of Hattiesburg, have been together 26 years. Fifteen years ago, the couple had a child through artificial insemination. Garner says she gave birth to their son six weeks before Mississippi banned same-sex adoption. Hrostowski's name isn't on his birth certificate. She's listed as their child's legal guardian, but says she wants the same rights as heterosexual parents.
"If I should die, our son would not get my social security. If something God forbid happened to Kathy, then I would have to go through a lot of legal processes to adopt him, if that were allowed. You know, that's always a question," said Hrostowski
Hrostowski, a professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, and Garner who heads an Aids Services Coalition, say they got married in Washington, DC in 2014, and have a great support system. They want to help gay couples that maybe ostracized. That's why the pair agreed to be one of four couples named in a federal lawsuit filed by the Campaign for Southern Equality. It argues Mississippi's ban on adoption and foster care is unconstitutional. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who is with the group, says 29 percent of the nearly 3,500 same-sex couples in the state are raising children under the age of 18.
"Mississippi is the last state in the country with a law like this on the books, and at the same time, Mississippi has the highest rate of same-sex couples raising kids, as any state in the nation," said Ferrara.
Mississippi banned same-sex marriage in 2000. The attorney general's office says they are reviewing the complaint and do not have a comment at this time.