Multiple bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community in this year’s legislative session have died, failing to make it through a single chamber.
A bill by Rep. Arnold Mooney, R-Shelby County, that would have banned drag queens from public spaces where minors might be present gained a lot of attention a few weeks ago, inspiring hundreds of members of the lGBTQ+ community to march on the Capitol.
Many of them were dressed in drag.
Also running out of time is the “What is a Woman Act” by Rep. Susan DuBose, R-Hoover. The bill sought to align the legal definitions of “man” and “woman” under Alabama law and align it with biological sex at birth.
Another bill to die is a new “Don’t Say Gay” bill by Rep. Mack Butler, R-Rainbow City, that would have expanded the state’s current ban on discussion of LGBTQ issues all the way to eighth grade. It is currently only banned up to third grade.
“I think really it’s encouraging that legislators focused on the grocery tax and other important issues,” said Josh Coleman, executive director of Central Alabama Pride. “If there’s a positive that has come out of this, it has really made the LGBTQ community tighter in a sense of being aware of the legislative process. A lot of folks historically have been sitting on the sideline and felt their voice or vote didn’t matter. We saw many folks this is their first time reaching out to their legislators. A lot of representatives told folks they were the first to reach out on these issues. Obviously, I’m ecstatic these bills did not pass, but am highly aware you could some of the same things next session.”
House Majority Leader Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle, has already vowed to make the drag bill a priority in the next legislative session.
During an interview on Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5 last week, Stadthagen said he will help the bill get passed next session, as well as cracking down on books.
“I think we have got to address several more issues we are dealing with in our state — the true problems and concerns of parents and kids in Alabama,” Stadthagen said. “And you know, the drag queen stuff that we talked about — I think that is something that we need to address. Obviously, that is not going to go through this year. I will personally make sure it crosses the finish line next year. We also have books that are getting into our school system, that our kids do not need to see what they see in these books. And that is something that is going to be number one priority on my list next year.”
Coleman said he expects the LGBTQ community to be ready for the challenges to come.
“From here, I think it’s keeping folks informed on all kind of channels,” Coleman said. “That’s how we build momentum.”