Alabama lawmakers really like to pick on the underdog. Wait, that’s not fair. What I should say is Alabama Republicans love to pick on the underdog.
Remember HB56 a few years ago? That was the anti-immigrant bill that attacked undocumented people. When it passed the Legislature, thousands of undocumented and documentedimmigrants fled Alabama. So many left, in fact, that Alabama farmers had a difficult time finding workers to show up during harvests. Crops rotted in the fields. Farmers were upset, as were business groups.
And while the bill very clearly targeted Latinx immigrants, one of the first persons arrested under the law’s provisions was an executive with Mercedes-Benz, a German man who was quickly released. Wrong flavor?
Of course, HB56 led to expensive court fights, was practically disassembled by the federal courts, and is now just another failed effort by state Republicans to pick on the those least than these.
Then there was former Chief Justice Roy Moore’s refusal to follow a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed for same-sex marriages across the nation. Moore told state probate judges that they didn’t have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.He lost his position – for the second time – for not following the law of the land.
Still, Alabama decided it would no longer issue marriage licenses. That way, homophobic probate judges would not have to validate same-sex marriages. Now, married couples record their marriage certificates after the fact.
That’s sort of like all those voter suppression bills Republicans like to push, to keep minorities from voting in elections. They claim they need to pass these bills to stop voter fraud. Except there is little voter fraud, and when there is, it is often Republicans who commit it. Another solution for a problem that doesn’t exist, brought to us by the more racist Republican legislatures and secretaries of state because they know the only way Republicans can continue winning elections is by cheating.
The latest underdogs to be targeted by Republicans are transgender kids. Just recently, the Legislature sent to Gov. Kay Ivey a bill that would ban transgender youths from playing sports of the gender with which they identify. It is a solution looking for a problem.
A survey conducted earlier this year by the Associated Press found few, if any, examples of the situations supporters of the bill claim to be addressing. It’s clearly an issue lawmakers don’t understand, nor do they care to.
Finally, a more invasive bill, one that would make it a felony for physicians to treat transgender youths with gender-affirming hormones and other treatments, seems stalled in the Alabama House. Quickly passed by the Senate, the bill, sponsored bystate Sen. Shay Shelnutt, R-Trussville, still hasn’t made it to the House calendar. Let’s hope it doesn’t. By the way, Shelnutt admitted he had never spoken to a transgender kid that he knew of when he sponsored the legislation. That would likely be too much information overload for Shelnutt.
House Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, told the Montgomery Advertiser he is not yet committed to allow the bill to make the calendar, adding that there was a lot of education “going on.”
If true, the bill will never come up in the House, because any educated person understands that interfering with the doctor-patient relationship legislatively is nuts. Also, this bill, if it became law, would make transgender children’s lives even more difficult and would probably lead to more suicides for a marginalized group that already has high suicide rates.
Every year, it seems, Republican lawmakers find another minority group or marginalized population to attack. Then, their bills, once they become law, are challenged in court, costing this poor state no telling how many taxpayer dollars. Then the law is thrown out, but lawmakers like Shelnutt have made their point: They’ve declared war on accepted American culture, but it’s a war that Shelnutt and his cronies simply cannot win in the long run.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected].