Alabama drag queen donates items from gay marriage fight

October 30, 2017

Ambrosia Starling, center, signs a document during a press conference, gifting an array of materials associated with the marriage equality campaign to the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017, in Montgomery, Ala. Artifacts include clothing worn by Starling, a marriage equality advocate and self-described drag queen, at a January 2016 rally at the Alabama Supreme Court building. The rally drew national attention during public debate over same-sex marriage and Chief Justice Roy Moore's instructions that probate judges should continue enforcing a state ban on same-sex marriage after a federal court ruling, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, declared the law unconstitutional. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A drag queen known for opposing Republican U.S. Senate candidate and gay marriage foe Roy Moore has given Alabama’s history agency the garb she wore during the fight that helped unseat Moore from the state Supreme Court last year.

Joined by officials from the Alabama Department of Archives and History at a Monday news conference, Ambrosia Starling said she’s giving the navy-blue dress, Cashmere coat, wig, heels and jewelry now because October is LGBT history month, not because Moore is running for Senate.

“I don’t want to fire up his supporters,” said Starling.

Photographer Christiane Robinson also donated more than 2,200 images and videos she made during events related to same-sex marriage.

Political history is a strength of the agency, said Archives Director Steve Murray, and the donations help fill a gap in its collection.

“No matter what your position I don’t think anyone can say that they don’t help document an important time,” he said.

The Moore campaign did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Moore is running against Democrat Doug Jones.

Starling appeared at numerous rallies last year while Moore’s opposition to gay marriage was making headlines. Robinson documented the events, photographing supporters and opponents of gay marriage.

Murray said Starling’s wardrobe will join a textile collection that includes the suit worn by former Gov. George C. Wallace when he was shot while campaigning for president in 1972. Neither the clothes nor images will be displayed immediately, he said.

The donations were “a little unusual” since archivists typically get items contributed decades after events, not just months, Murray said. The items are welcome partly because they will help the agency tell the story of a recent event, he said.

Starling donated the clothing she wore while helping lead a January 2016 rally outside the state’s main judicial building. Dozens of people at the demonstration filed complaints against Moore, a conservative Christian and vocal opponent of same-sex marriage. Robinson took photos of the protest.

State judicial investigators later filed charges against Moore, and a special court suspended him from office over an order he issued about gay weddings.

Moore resigned from the court and announced a run for Senate after Jeff Sessions became U.S. attorney general under President Donald Trump. The election is Dec. 12.

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