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Alabama Bill Would Prohibit Gay Books in Libraries

A bill introduced February 1 by Alabama State Rep. Gerald Allen (R-Cottondale) seeks to prohibit public libraries, schools, and universities from purchasing books or other materials that promote gay culture or feature gay characters. HB30 would make it a Class A misdemeanor to purchase, produce, or promote “printed or electronic materials or activities that sanction, recognize, foster, or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws of the state.”

Allen had announced the bill at a press conference last November, two months before the legislative session began, explaining that his intent was to remove from library shelves any novel with a gay protagonist or any college textbook that suggests homosexuality is natural. “I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them,” he said in the December 1 Birmingham News.

University of Alabama Associate Theater Professor Peder Melhuse said in the January 10 Crimson White campus newspaper that he doubted the bill would pass, but “if it did go through, I would certainly go out of my way to choose and vote for [productions] that went right in the face of the law.”

The bill contains language asserting that it is not a “prior restraint of the First Amendment protected speech” since it applies only to public institutions “in the use of public funds and public facilities.” It also makes its provisions severable, meaning that if any part of the law is declared invalid or unconstitutional, other parts would not be affected.

Posted February 4, 2005.