Alito’s remarks about Pride flag blasted by LGBTQ advocates

LGBTQ advocates are blasting remarks about the Pride flag from Martha-Ann Alito, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, arguing they raise serious questions about her husband’s adjudication over issues affecting their community.

“It’s fitting that Mrs. Alito’s attitudes towards the queer community are as antiquated as her flags,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, in comments that referenced a series of flag controversies surrounding the Alitos.

“Many are rightfully concerned about the hyper-partisan opinions shared by both members of the Alito household, including the Justice’s ability to leave his personal political opinions at home,” Pocan told The Hill in an email. “Americans, especially women and the LGBTQI+ community, deserve to be able to trust that the Supreme Court won’t leave their rights flipped upside-down and strung up a flagpole — and right now, I’m not sure if they can.”

In comments made public Tuesday, Martha-Ann Alito lamented her neighbor’s Pride flag and expressed a desire to fly a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag in protest as she was being secretly recorded by a liberal activist disguised as a conservative.

“I want a Sacred Heart of Jesus flag, because I have to look across the lagoon at the Pride flag for the next month,” she said in the secretly recorded conversation at the Supreme Court Historical Society’s annual dinner on June 3.

June, during which LGBTQ Pride Month is celebrated, is also recognized by Catholics as the month of the Sacred Heart.

She added that she had designed another flag in her head, one that would surround the Italian word for “shame” with yellow and orange flames.

Progressive filmmaker Lauren Windsor made the recording while attending the event as a member of the society under her real name, though she posed as a religious conservative in conversation with both Alitos and others, including Chief Justice John Roberts.

The Alitos are facing a separate flag controversy stemming from a New York Times report that the couple flew an “Appeal to Heaven” flag and an upside-down American flag at their homes in New Jersey and Virginia. Both flags have been associated with far-right politics, Christian nationalism and the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump.

In another secretly recorded conversation with Windsor at the June 3 event, Justice Alito agreed that the U.S. should strive to be a Christian nation. Alito, one of the court’s leading conservatives, has frequently ruled against LGBTQ rights, most recently in a case concerning a Christian web designer who refused to make wedding websites for gay couples.

Alito in 2015 voted against the majority in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

In February, Alito renewed his criticism of the ruling, writing that the court’s Feb. 20 decision not to hear a case concerning jurors who were dismissed because of their objections to same-sex marriage “exemplifies the danger” he predicted in his 2015 dissent.

“Namely, that Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labeled as bigots and treated as such’ by the government,” Alito wrote in February.

The court has yet to decide whether it will take up a case that answers the question of whether state laws banning gender-affirming health care are constitutional, though Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas appear eager to do so.

“In public and private, the Alitos continue to reveal their contempt for LGBTQ people, as well as for basic civility, democracy, judicial ethics or even the appearance of impartiality,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD. “This is what is truly shameful, not the private lives of other Americans who just want to be free from discrimination and unhinged behavior.”

“A supermajority of Americans support LGBTQ equality, and are just fine with the reality that LGBTQ people are living our lives, working, going to school, and raising families, yet our community members continue enduring anti-LGBTQ nonsense from extremists at the highest levels of government,” Ellis said in an email.

“Pride flags represent diversity and welcome values that encourage safety and acceptance in our increasingly multicultural, multiracial country. Americans must elect responsible leaders who will demand equal justice under law and respect in everyday life.”

LGBTQ Pride flags have in recent years come under fire from conservatives.

Colorado’s Republican Party this month called for Pride flags to be burned, and a fundraising email sent by the state GOP with the subject line “God Hates Pride” included a link to a video titled “God Hates Flags.”

Some Colorado Republicans have called for the party’s leader, Dave Williams, to resign.

Republicans in Congress have also railed against Pride flags flown at government buildings, and a $1.2 trillion spending package signed by President Biden in March includes a GOP-backed provision preventing U.S. embassies from displaying them. The White House has said it is looking for an “opportunity to repeal” that provision.

House Republicans last week passed their first funding bill for fiscal 2025 — legislation that would fund military construction projects and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — that would similarly prevent Pride flags from being flown at VA facilities and national cemeteries.

On Tuesday, outgoing Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) in a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough called for Pride flags to be removed from VA facilities in Montana.

“Pride flags represent the joy and strength of LGBTQ+ people and are proudly flown across the world to let the community know they are seen and supported,” said Sam Lau, vice president of communication at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization. “Comments like [Martha-Ann Alito’s], and the horrific efforts of the Colorado GOP party, show why they are more important than ever. No amount of vitriol will ever erase our existence or our love.”

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