We are witnessing a flurry of positive news from courts across the nation. In Florida, the state Court of Appeals threw out the state’s ban on gay people adopting children — even those children they have been parenting as foster parents. The Florida gay adoption ban has been a dark cloud on the sunshine state, and prior attempts to overturn the ban have been unsuccessful. We’ve seen some similarly good news from courts reviewing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy as well.
There have been strenuous debates for decades amongst gay rights activists, asking whether court litigation is more or less effective than political reform. What is clear is that it is not an either-or proposition, but rather, a “both and” strategy that makes the most sense. The political campaigns serve as educational programs, even when technically unsuccessful. Likewise, a well-reasoned legal decision can change public opinion, as well as legislative votes.
What is most significant about these court victories is that over the past few decades, the judges in many state and federal courts have tended towards increasingly conservative viewpoints. In this context, the positive decisions from the nation’s courts show a meaningful shift in the “center” on LGBT rights. This gives all of us reasons to be hopeful that political change in the right direction is just around the corner as well!