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Mississippi Victim's Partner Unable to Join Wrongful-Death Lawsuit

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On June 26, James C. Anderson, 48, died tragically in a Jackson, Mississippi, parking lot. Surveillance video shows two carloads of teenagers driving into the parking lot. Several approached Anderson, who was beaten and robbed. The video then shows Anderson being struck by a truck. Witnesses report one teenager yelled "white power," and the driver of the pickup shouted a racist slur. Rod 2.0 reports that James Bradfield, longtime partner of Anderson, cannot join the wrongful-death lawsuit.

Bradfield, 44, was the victim’s partner of 17 years. The two were also raising a child together, a 4-year-old relative for whom Bradfield has legal guardianship. In a New York Times interview, family members described Anderson as someone who made a point of taking care of old people and children. He also sang tenor in the choir at the First Hyde Park Missionary Baptist Church and was so good “he’d have you falling out,” Bradfield told the newspaper.

Under Mississippi law, same-sex partners have no claim in civil actions like this. Anderson’s devoted partner of almost a decade cannot be a plaintiff. In addition to this injustice, Mississippi law does not permit joint adoption of children by gay and lesbian couples. Fortunately, Bradfield, the surviving partner, is the one who has custody of their daughter. Without the same protections granted to straight couples, Bradfield could have been prevented from keeping the child he raised and cared for.

Although, there was no indication that Anderson’s orientation was a factor in the crime, this unfortunate case is an example of the harms that committed LGBT couples and families are more vulnerable to.

GLAAD mourns the loss of James Anderson and sends our condolences to his friends, family, and loved ones during this difficult time. We have reached out to his surviving partner and are taking steps to elevate this story in the media.