Kathryn Garner and Rev. Susan Hrostowski have been together since around 2000, and they legally married shortly after the Obergefell ruling. Five years after meeting, the women decided to have a child, which Kathryn carried and gave birth to, six weeks before Mississippi’s ban on adoption by same-sex couples went into effect. Therefore, their son had only one parent on his birth certificate, making Susan unable to fully adopt him. The couple joined a federal lawsuit brought against the state and in April 2016, a judge ruled the ban unconstitutional.
The women returned to court when Mississippi passed HB1523, a law that grants individuals and businesses the ability to cite 3 specifically anti-LGBTQ beliefs as a justification for discrimination. Susan is a priest in the Episcopal Church, and she joined a lawsuit seeking to block the discriminatory law on religious grounds. For Susan, her involvement in the case wasn’t just about her faith – it was also about her life as an out lesbian in Mississippi. “As a married lesbian, and a mother to a son with two moms, HB1523 also causes significant burdens on my family life,” she said. “The state has gone out of its way to demean our family and deny us the dignity enjoyed by other families in our state. Kathy and I now constantly live in fear that a restaurant could refuse to seat our family if they viewed our dinner date as a celebration of our marriage. We no longer feel safe to travel, because a hotel could refuse to let us stay in a room together.”