The Daily Agenda for Saturday, November 23
November 23rd, 2013
Events This Weekend: Side-By-Side LGBT Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
15 YEARS AGO: Georgia Supreme Court Strikes Down State Sodomy Law: 1998. It took twelve years for the Georgia Supreme Court to do what the U.S. Supreme Court refused to do. In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s sodomy law as constitutional in Bowers v. Hardwick (see Jun 30), a ruling that deeply disappointed the gay community and set back the quest to get rid of the nation’s sodomy laws by nearly two decades. But in 1998, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down that state’s law, the very law that was in question in Bowers, as a violation to the right to privacy under Georgia’s constitution.
Unlike the 1986 case which involved a gay man who was in a consensual sexual relationship with another man, this case involved a heterosexual man who was accused of performing non-consensual oral sex on his niece. The jury acquitted him of the non-consensual portion of the charge due to lack of evidence, but convicted him of sodomy since Georgia, like many states, defined sodomy to include oral sex. But unlike many states, Georgia made it a crime regardless of whether it was heterosexual or homosexual. On appeal, the defense held that the statute was unconstitutional, but the state was confident. After all, the law had already been validated by the U.S. Supreme Court.
But the Georgia Supreme Court saw it differently. “While many believe that acts of sodomy, even those involving consenting adults, are morally reprehensible, this repugnance alone does not create a compelling justification for state regulation of the activity,” the court ruled in its 6-1 decision. Citing a 1905 state ruling, the state Supreme Court found that the defendant had “the right to be let alone,” a right that was more expansive than the right to privacy protected by the U.S. Constitution. “We cannot think of any other activity that reasonable persons would rank as more private and more deserving of protection from governmental interference than consensual, private, adult sexual activity,” Chief Justice Robert Benham wrote in the decision.
Romain de Tirtoff: 1892-1990. Born Roman Petrovich Tyrtov in St. Petersburg, Russia, and known the world over as Erté (the French pronunciation of his initials), the art deco designer and decorator was the very antithesis of his father, a Russian admiral who insisted that Romain follow in the family tradition and become a naval officer. Romain moved to Paris in 1910, adopted his French pseudonym, and quickly became an illustrator for Harper’s Bazaar, which opened the doors to commissions for theatrical costumes and stage sets. Between 1915 and 1937, Erté’s designs graced more than 200 covers for Harper’s Bazaar, along with other illustrations for Vogue, the Ladies Home Journal, and Cosmopolitan. He also created costumes and fashion designs for the era’s most fashionable celebrities, including Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish, Sarah Bernhardt, Anna Pavlova, and Norma Shearer, and his set designs appeared in a number of Hollywood films. His extravagant designs were also regular fixtures in Radio City Music Hall, the Folies-BergÃ¨res, the Paris Opera, George White’s “Scandals” and Irving Berlin’s “Music Box.”
Erté’s graceful and elegant designs set the standard for glamor and sophistication for decades to come. His illustrations, designs, jewelry and sculptures became the very definition of the Art Deco movement, and he almost single-handedly revived Art Deco’s popularity in the 1970s and 1980 when he recreated many of his designs for a new generation. Erté was incredibly prolific, and he was never without work. He continued working right up until two weeks before he died, at the age of 97, in 1990. Always energetic, it would appear his death caught him by surprise: he was in the middle of building a new home in Majorca.
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