As President Trump tested positive for COVID and the vice-presidential candidates sparred in debate, the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal of a Kentucky county clerk jailed briefly after refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. But in a statement released alongside the decision, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito all but urged the court to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. If Thomas failed to note his own hypocrisy in authoring this particular statement, the internet did not: Thomas’s wife is white, and interracial marriage was illegal in 16 states until 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled anti-miscegination laws unconstitutional in Loving v. Virginia.
In addition to inviting a challenge to Obergefell, Thomas and Alito will participate in the court’s upcoming decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, in which a Catholic organization is seeking the right to ignore Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination ordinance by refusing to place foster children with same-sex parents. So will Brett Kavanagh and Amy Coney Barrett, whom the Human Rights Campaign called “an absolute threat to LGBTQ rights”—that is, if Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell succeeds in ramming her confirmation through this month. As Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote recently in The New York Times, “the fight for equality isn’t over, and can most definitely still be lost.”
And after Trump used the first presidential debate to summon a white supremacist group to intimidate voters at polling places, the real proud boys had the last laugh: George Takei started it when he asked, “What if gay guys took pictures of themselves making out with each other or doing very gay things, then tagged themselves #ProudBoys”? So the gay guys did it in spectacular style! The other so-called proud boys were not amused, according to Forbes, and vented their ire in the most distasteful terms.
James Baldwin told the story of a 1963 confrontation over voting rights in Selma, Alabama, in this recently rediscovered interview transcript, while Architectural Digest brought its own special sensibility to Baldwin’s lifelong quest for justice: “Provençal antiques and art by friends furnished the living room” of his house in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France. Nice pictures, but when we saw the house last summer it was in the process of being transformed into the omphalos of a luxury real estate development. What would Baldwin have thought?
Keith Haring’s personal art collection sold at Sotheby’s for $4.6 million, which will go to the LGBT Community Center of New York. In The Calvert Journal, Josh Nadeau marked the anniversary of Russia’s first queer biennale, which took place last October in St. Petersburg. And gay bars continue to close at an alarming rate, with CC Slaughers in Portland, Oregon, the latest casualty of the pandemic. At least we can still hear great queer music online, like My Gay Banjo’s “Limp Wrist and a Steady Hand.”
And 22 years ago yesterday, Matthew Shepard was tortured, tied to a barbed-wire fence, and left to die near Laramie, Wyoming; he died on October 12, 1998. It is a tragic irony (but a coincidence) that October 11th is designated as National Coming Out Day.