AL lawmakers are trying to withdraw funding from the State Department after it hosted an LGBTQ+ history lecture

Some Alabama lawmakers are seeking to withdraw $5 million in funding from the Alabama Department of Archives and History after it hosted a lecture on LGBTQ+ history in June.

The noon session at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, titled “No Longer Invisible: Alabama’s LGBTQ+ History,” covered topics ranging from the state’s first Pride march to the contributions of gay residents of Alabama.

In response to the speech, Republican Senator Chris Elliott of Daphne said he would introduce legislation in next week’s special session that would “reclaim” an additional $5 million in funding from the Department of Archives and History.

“And make no mistake, the point is to send a message to the Department of Records and History and other bureaucracies across the state that we do not believe this is an issue appropriate for the Alabama Department of Records and History.” said Elliott called.


Elliott said about 10 MPs asked archives officials to cancel the lecture, but they did not. While he said he hadn’t seen the talk, which is available on social media, Elliot insisted that he didn’t think a talk focusing on LGBTQ+ issues was appropriate because “the underlying differentiating factor is gender.”

“There are many other places to discuss these issues,” he said

Steve Murray, director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, wrote in a Friday letter to lawmakers that the presentation — part of a monthly lecture series on a variety of topics — “is consistent with the archive’s mission” to spread knowledge about the history and resources of the state.

Alabama State Capitol

People march up the Alabama State Capitol. Some lawmakers want to withdraw funding from the Alabama Department of Archives and History after the department hosted an LGBTQ+ history lecture. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“The Archive respects the authority and responsibility of the legislature to allocate funds at its discretion. We hope that you will make an informed decision based on familiarity with the June 15 program and an awareness of our agency’s commitment to integrity and service in promoting evidence-based history,” Murray wrote.

The talk, held at the archive, was part of the ongoing Food for Thought educational lunchtime series at the archive. Other lecture topics this year included Pastor Martin Luther King, the musician Duane Allman and the state mammal, a black bear.


Murray said he approved the topics of the lecture series for the year, but the program included no public funding other than a federal grant through the Alabama Humanities Alliance to pay a stipend to the presenter.

He said the $5 million portion of state funding that lawmakers are trying to withdraw is money the Archives plans to use for museum modernizations, including redesigning Native American exhibits, a new military gallery and developing an entirely new one children’s gallery.

The special session will focus on the creation of new convention cards. Passing legislation on other issues requires the support of two-thirds of lawmakers, but Elliott said he believes he has enough support.


The talk was delivered by historian Maigen Sullivan, a co-founder of the Invisible Histories Project, a nonprofit dedicated to documenting a once-hidden history of LGBTQ+ people in the Deep South.

Sullivan wrote in an email that the talk focused on Alabama’s lesser-known LGBTQ+ history. She said it contained “poetically enough” state legislatures’ opposition to the creation of a gay- and lesbian-oriented student club at Auburn University in the 1990s.

“While this is an outrageous achievement, this rhetoric is dangerous and damaging, especially at a time when LGBTQ people, equality policies and education that fairly represents marginalized people are under active and unrelenting attack,” Sullivan wrote.

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