Nadine Smith and wife, Andrea

Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith said the State’s largest civil rights organization would be in court next year as they seek to achieve ambitious goals for the future.

Smith, a longtime human rights activist from Panama City, said the way to bring about same-sex marriage in Florida was through the judicial branch of the State’s government.

“We anticipate going to court and for public opinion to continue to move in our direction,” Smith said.

Major goals for Equality Florida over the next three years are full marriage Equality, statewide employment protection and to keep electing candidates like Joe Saunders in Central Florida. Saunders, an openly gay man, was elected to the Florida House of Representatives during the general election of 2012. He is fighting in the legislature to secure employment protection for LGBT people and believes marriage equality is coming soon.

“Winds are in the sails for marriage equality in Florida and across the country,” said Saunders, who represents District 49 in Tallahassee.

Saunders said polling data indicates a “cultural shift” taking place throughout the Sunshine State. In places like Pensacola, domestic partnerships were recently approved and in his home county of Broward there remains a strong network of protections in place for members of the LGBT community.

“It’s happening more quickly than you think,” Saunders said.

Meanwhile, candidates like John Paul Alvarez, are hoping to ride this momentum into office next year. Alvarez, running in the newly created District 100, which includes parts of Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, said Democrats are making gains statewide, including victories in the last six House races.

“Hopefully the next Governor is a Democrat who can appoint judges who are pro-equality and progressive,” Alvarez said. While Smith added: “There’s a rapidly changing demographic in Florida. We must seize this opportunity.”