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Opinion | Elliott’s rant shows why lawmakers shouldn’t touch the Archives Department

Sen. Chris Elliott’s comments were a disgusting reduction of LGBTQ people to sexual activity.

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Earlier this week, I criticized state Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Josephine, for not talking about the real goals behind his two most recent bills.

He still obfuscated his true motives on SB10, the library board bill, despite goading from Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton asking him to “address the elephant in the room.” Elliott kept emphasizing “local control” of the boards and avoided talking about Republicans’ push to keep “inappropriate content” away from minors in public libraries.

But I have to give him credit for actually addressing his thoughts during the floor debate on his bill to dismantle the board of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

Then again, perhaps Elliott has been following the old adage attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt.”

Elliott’s comments on the Senate floor show either a gross lack of understanding of what is historical about LGBTQ people and rights in this state, or worse, a disgusting reduction of LGBTQ people to sexual activity.

According to Elliott, “who somebody had sex with last night” is not history.

That turn of phrase illustrates how immaturely Elliott’s understanding of sexual orientation is.

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It appears Elliott’s line of thinking is the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” of history: we can celebrate someone for building a rocket “even if they’re gay,” but their gayness is not something to be noted.

I wonder if Alan Turing were an Alabamian what Elliott would think should go in the archive?

Turing was a genius, who literally invented the computer to break an unbreakable Nazi code and help win World War II.

He was also gay, and was charged with “gross indecency” for committing homosexual acts, and given the option of imprisonment or chemical castration. He chose castration, and just two years later at the age of 41, killed himself with a cyanide pill.

But under the Chris Elliot Department of Archives and History, there seems no room for the latter half of that story. His version would be merely of a man who invented a computer and defeated the Nazis, and no mention of the price he paid for simply being gay.

The people talked about during this one-hour brown bag program were just another group of marginalized Alabamians fighting for their right to be treated fairly. That history seems more relevant now than ever, but perhaps Elliott’s true concern is what happens if he doesn’t control the history.

Because the history he is writing for himself right now is that of the villain.

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Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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