Alabama state senator demands punishment over LGBTQ+ history lecture

Author: Greg Owen

Over the summer, Republican State Senator Chris Elliot of Alabama learned from colleagues that the Alabama Department of Archives and History was hosting a lunchtime lecture about gay history in the state.

Murray declined.

Soon after, Elliot introduced a bill in the Alabama Legislature to slash $5M from the Archives’ funding — almost half their budget.

That bill died in a special session devoted to redistricting.

Now Elliot has pre-filed a bill for the 2024 session which would fire the Archives’ Board of Trustees, and replace them with one controlled by the governor, lieutenant governor, and the Alabama House and Senate leaders.

Upset that he and a small group of like-minded colleagues were rebuffed in their effort to cancel an event addressing a topic they objected to, it appears Elliot won’t be satisfied until Murray and the Archive suffer the lawmakers’ wrath.

The lecture that day, featuring a speaker from the Invisible Histories Project, was funded by the Alabama Humanities Alliance. So if Elliot and his allies were worried about state money supporting a discussion of Alabama’s gay history, their concerns were unwarranted. Murray explained this in his text reply.

The reasoning behind Elliot’s proposal to fire the board is similarly flawed.

The senator claims that the Archives Board of Trustees is “self-perpetuating.” That is, he says board members both nominate themselves and then vote themselves onto the board.

“They are one of the few, if not only, self-perpetuating boards in the state of Alabama that does not at least answer to elected officials, or by extension to the people of the state of Alabama, and simply reappoints itself over and over and over again,” he said in a recent interview. “And you gotta wonder, is that good governance?”

In fact, while the board does nominate members, those nominations go to the Alabama Senate for confirmation.

Elliot himself voted to approve every one of the current board members that he now wants to fire and replace.

Three of those nominees were approved two weeks before the senator asked Murray to cancel the gay history lecture.

While Elliot hasn’t publicly revealed the true reason behind his request to cancel that day’s lunchtime lecture, titled “Invisible No More: Alabama’s LGBTQ+ History,” he may have inadvertently recounted his own motivations in a recent talk radio interview, while ostensibly describing those of public servants like Archives Director Murray.

“It really chaps me,” Elliott said, “when we end up in a situation where you have unelected bureaucrats saying, ‘We know better. We’ll do what we want to do regardless of what the people think.’”

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Actual Story on LGBTQ Nation
Author: Greg Owen

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