Despite all the hype about the power of the courts to change the course of American law and culture, and all the hype about ‘activist judges,’ many legal experts see the courts as ‘lagging indicators’ of cultural change. In other words, judges (especially the Supreme Court) generally won’t rule in favor of a cultural shift unless they believe the culture has already shifted that direction.
So, one way to guess how close we are getting to fairness and equality for unmarried people is to keep an eye on the courts. Recently, state courts offered us two small steps forward and one step back:
Yesterday, AtMP sent boxes of chocolates to two Iowa judges who ruled that it is “arbitrary and irrational” to assume that an unmarried sex offender is a greater threat than a married sex offender. They wrote the dissenting opinion, so this is only a small step forward.
Despite the new adoption ban, an Arkansas judge has given temporary custody of a child to the child’s unmarried grandmother, who lives with her same-sex partner of nine years and is the only relative able and willing to adopt her grandchild. This is a small step too.
But a Minnesota court ruled that it’s ok for gyms to charge married and unmarried people different membership fees. While not as life-changing as child custody, these fee differentials really bug lots of people.