Alabama Lawmaker Wants to Ban Gay Books

Gay book ban goal of state lawmaker (Birmingham News)

An Alabama lawmaker who sought to ban gay marriages now wants to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries. A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for “the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.” Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the “homosexual agenda.” “Our culture, how we know it today, is under attack from every angle,” Allen said in a press conference Tuesday. Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed. “I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them,” he said.

A spokesman for the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center called the bill censorship. “It sounds like Nazi book burning to me,” said SPLC spokesman Mark Potok.

Allen pre-filed his bill in advance of the 2005 legislative session, which begins Feb. 1.

If the bill became law, public school textbooks could not present homosexuality as a genetic trait and public libraries couldn’t offer books with gay or bisexual characters. When asked about Tennessee Williams’ southern classic “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,” Allen said the play probably couldn’t be performed by university theater groups. Allen said no state funds should be used to pay for materials that foster homosexuality. He said that would include nonfiction books that suggest homosexuality is acceptable and fiction novels with gay characters. While that would ban books like “Heather has Two Mommies,” it could also include classic and popular novels with gay characters such as “The Color Purple,” “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and “Brideshead Revisted.”

The bill also would ban materials that recognize or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws of Alabama. Allen said that meant books with heterosexual couples committing those acts likely would be banned, too. His bill also would prohibit a teacher from handing out materials or bringing in a classroom speaker who suggested homosexuality was OK, he said.

Allen has sponsored legislation to make a gay marriage ban part of the Alabama Constitution, but it was not approved by the Legislature. Ken Baker, a board member of Equality Alabama, a gay rights organization, said Allen was “attempting to become the George Wallace of homosexuality.”

Aside from the moral debates, the bill could be problematic for library collections, said Jaunita Owes, director of the Montgomery City-County Library, which is a few blocks from the Alabama Capitol. “Half the books in the library could end up being banned. It’s all based on how one interprets the material,” Owes said.

“The George Wallace of homosexuality.” My, that has a ring to it.

My strong suspicion is that this bill won’t come close to passage. If if Allen could craft a bill that somehow managed to ban “Heather Has Two Mommies” type fare without also snaring science books and novels that aren’t gay propaganda, he would have strong support. I’m not sure how one would word such a bill, though, and a broadly crafted legislation like this would easily be ridiculed even in conservative Alabama.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. NJvoter says:

    It’s about time we outlaw sex itself..unless done for procreation purposes. I’m so tired of hearing about the “joy of sex”.

    We are definitely in a battle here. Let’s win.

  2. kappiy says:

    James-

    I would bet that this silly bill would pass pretty easily. Remember, Alabama was where they had that crazy pagan judge who kept on insisting we worship the 10 Commandments. Rationality is in short supply in Alabama.

  3. Andy says:

    What’s next? Public book burnings? After the “homosexual agenda” (homosexuals) are crushed, what comes after that? Non-Christians (again)? Minorities (again)? I can’t believe, in America, we would even think to supress any sort of book. Hello, “Land of the Free.” It scares me. How long until homosexuality become a jailable offense? Or worse…

    What is it about some Christians that make them so afraid?

    Andy

  4. Allison says:

    Being a Christian (a liberal one in support of homosexuals… but one from a church where everyone is totally against it.. go figure), I can say that a lot of it is about Biblical interpretation. However, a lot of it is about closemindedness. Unfortunately, most of these people are impossible to convince (I’ve gotten into so many arguments at church that I’ve started going to a more liberal one), and there are a lot of people who feel that way.

    However, I don’t think the law will pass, at least not nationally. It would be too hard to enforce and too hard to draw a line for… I mean, what about Greek and Roman mythology? And any education involving those ancient civilizations where homosexuality was considered completely natural? Is the nation willing to practically erase or edit parts of HISTORY for the sake of not “corrupting” the people?