Last week’s Supreme Court six–three decision, holding that discrimination against LGBT people constitutes sex discrimination, came as a shock to queer and trans legal advocates. It looked to be five solid votes against the gay and transgender employees in the three cases consolidated as Bostock v. Clayton County, and plans for protests were already in the works if the Court voted as such.
But instead, a conservative legal perspective saved LGBT rights, with Paisley Currah arguing in a new essay that Gorsuch’s majority opinion tossed out the old common sense about sex—even as its logic buttressed other kinds of state control. This comes six decades after Frank Kameny laid the groundwork for the success, as the first person to ask the Supreme Court to protect the employment rights of homosexuals.
Despite the thrill of the current victory, Samuel Huneke argues that the fact that it took sixty years points to both the successes and agonies of a legalistic approach to activism. Today’s reading list considers this theme in earnest, with multiple essays weighing the riotous legacy of Stonewall and gay liberation against the reformist legal gains of gay rights, a movement which has often alienated those who aren’t white and cisgender.
In 1961 Frank Kameny became the first person to ask the Supreme Court to protect the employment rights of homosexuals. The fact that the Court finally has—sixty years later—points to both the successes and agonies of a legalistic approach to activism.
The press has crowned Buttigieg the inheritor of Stonewall’s legacy, but this doesn’t square with what we know of Stonewall activists and the world they hoped to create.