by Joe Siegel
The outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court’s vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, which had granted women the right to terminate a pregnancy, spawned massive protests all over the country. After nearly 50 years of legal abortion nationwide, several states have already banned the procedure and many more have implemented restrictions.
Not only that, but Justice Clarence Thomas, part of the conservative majority, said the court might revisit decisions regarding sodomy and same-sex marriage rights. Understandably, Thomas’ comments raised concern among LGBTQ activists and journalists.
A June 24 story in the Atlanta-based Georgia Voice featured an interview with Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “We are on notice that our rights are on the chopping block, and we should not waste a moment in mobilizing political support,” Minter said. “If we cannot rely on the Supreme Court, we must turn to our local, state, and federal representatives to secure fundamental freedoms through legislation. We are witnessing a full-scale assault on the rights of women and LGBTQ people, and the moment to act is now.”
The Dallas Voice posted a freelance article explaining the ruling, the history of Roe v. Wade, and the connection between that case and the Lawrence and Obergefell rulings specifically affecting LGBTQ rights.
“We then updated that post with information about Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion calling for the court to overturn Lawrence, Obergefell and other right-to-privacy decisions, and we updated it continually with statements responding to Roe being overturned,” explained Tammye Nash, Dallas Voice’s managing editor. “We blogged about protests that were being held and we updated the blog throughout the week with other information, including a blog noting that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has stated his willingness to try and reinstate the Texas sodomy law if Lawrence is overturned.”
Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, said his newspaper covered the decision from “many angles — from the protests at the Supreme Court to the status of abortion rights in our coverage area to the implications for marriage, privacy, and contraception.”
The Blade ran an interview with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Lightfoot, a lesbian, said the court’s ruling was a “gut punch.”
“It wasn’t a surprise,” Lightfoot told the Blade during an exclusive interview. “This had been a 50-year quest for people who don’t want to recognize our rights and want to take us back to 1950s America, when our community was pushed very decidedly into the closet because we didn’t have protections — we certainly didn’t have marriage. That was inconceivable back then.”
Jason Villemez, managing editor of the Philadelphia Gay News (PGN), noted, “We’ve dedicated a lot of coverage to Roe v. Wade, the current state of abortion rights, and the future impact Roe’s reversal will have on the LGBTQ community. All the stories on our cover this week are about Roe, each from a different angle and with different voices. We’re running news articles and op-eds, articles that focus on parents and those starting families, articles that focus on which Supreme Court rulings may see the same fate as Roe, and articles that focus on the politics of how we got to where we are. Abortion is the most important issues facing the LGBTQ community right now, and we’ve dedicated and will continue to dedicate the time and space in covering it.”
PGN’s Victoria A. Brownworth offered an analysis via the National LGBTQ Media Association arguing the U.S. Supreme Court has gone “rogue.”
“Hillary Clinton warned everyone in 2016 that if Donald Trump were elected, the Supreme Court would pass into his hands. Ceded with it, she suggested, would be Roe v. Wade, Obergefell v. Hodges and a myriad of other precedent-setting laws,” Brownworth wrote. “And now, here we are.”