Gay Book Ban Goal of State Lawmaker
Birmingham News, December 1, 2004
By Kim Chandler, News staff writer
MONTGOMERY—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
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
Ken Baker, a board member of Equality Alabama, a gay
rights organization, said Allen was “attempting to become the George Wallace
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
“Half the books in the library could end up being
banned. It’s all based on how one interprets the material,” Owes said.
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