By Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Author of WHERE MY LOVE LIES DREAMING, BELOVED PILGRIM, and ANGEL EYES
The State of Pennsylvania has brought more than just the vibrant and compelling characters of the “romance with a touch of suspense” found in Vicki Reese’s gay fiction. Although the state never recognized civil unions or domestic partnerships, same-sex marriage has been legally recognized in Pennsylvania since May 20, 2014, when a U.S. federal district court judge ruled that the Commonwealth’s 1996 statutory ban on recognizing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The state had prohibited recognition of same-sex marriage by statute since 1996. It had never added such a ban to its state constitution. Perhaps in the hearts of many Pennsylvanians was the image of one of its most famous sons, President James Buchanan?
Scholars like James W. Loewen, author of LIES MY TEACHER TAUGHT ME and LIES ACROSS AMERICA, have put forth the case that Pennsylvania native son and the fifteenth president of the United States of America was gay and lived much of his adult life in Washington DC with another lifelong bachelor, Sen. William Rufus King of Alabama. For much of this time they lived together in a house on F Street and spent summers together in Rock Creek Park. Their relationship and the socializing they did à deux was publicly enough recognized that King was called “Mrs. Buchanan.” Though Buchanan had his niece Harriet Vane burn all his personal correspondence, enough has been found that hints broadly at the partnership.
While King was well regarded as President Pro Tem of the U.S. Senate and was also a diplomat in France, and was Vice President for two weeks as he was dying of tuberculosis, Buchanan was not only a diplomat to Imperial Russia and later Secretary of State under President James K. Polk.
Many attempts have been made to cloak the romantic liaison between Buchanan and King, such as a huge portrait of the long dead fiancée of Buchanan’s who broke off their engagement because he was not very involved. Her father refused to allow the husband-to-be to attend the young woman’s funeral. Though in a later letter Buchanan expressed a thought that some old spinster might not mind marrying a man without “any very ardent or romantic affection.”
It seems ironic and sad that America’s first gay president might have hailed from a state only recently begun to embrace its same-sex partners.
See more about Buchanan and King:
The House on F Street (http://dreamspinnerpress.com/blog/2014/12/02/house-street-christopher-hawthorne-moss/
Ghost in the White House (https://wildeoats.wordpress.com/ghost-in-the-white-house/)