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Louisiana Adoption Case Shows That Conservative Judges Can Uphold Gay Rights

A lot of times people assume that all conservatives are against gay rights and all liberals are for them.

A federal gay marriage case is risky, they say, because the Supreme Court has a conservative majority. Or, as they said before, Maine voters will uphold gay marriage because it's such a liberal state. Turned out that wasn't the case.

Political ideologies don't necessarily predict support for gay rights, as last week's Adar v. Smith  decision shows. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguably the most conservative circuit after the Fourth, said that Louisiana must recognize the New York same-sex adoption of a Louisiana child even though Louisiana does not itself grant same-sex adoptions.

Conservatives tend to put precedent over public policy, and that's what the court did here. While Louisiana might have its own public policy reasons for not allowing gay adoptions, the court said that the full faith and credit clause requires the state to recognize out-of-state ones.

That's why gay rights cases relying on more conservatives arguments are more promising than ones that rely on public policy reasons. Take, for example, Gill v. OPM, the Massachusetts case asserting that marriage rights should be left up to the states, a typical conservative argument.

Especially if the Supreme Court keeps its historically conservative bent, arguments like these may have the most success in recognizing more rights for same sex couples.

[Cross-posted at the Gay Couples Law Blog. Published by Gideon Alper, who also publishes the Atlanta Divorce Law Blog, it discusses same sex family law, estate planning, and taxes.]

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Gideon Alper

Gideon Alper