Alabama’s constitution and state code are peppered with archaic language that reflects viewpoints and social positions that haven’t weathered the times well. Last year, voters approved a constitutional amendment that would start an effort to remove racist language from the state constitution, which still mandates school segregation.
Last week, Gov. Kay Ivey signed a measure repealing a 1992 “no promo homo” law requiring that sex education curriculum note “an emphasis, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of this state.”
Physical intimacy between two people of the same gender is no longer illegal, having been struck down by the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Lawrence vs Texas, but it had been before that ruling.
Acceptance of the general public is more difficult to determine. Alabama wrestled with same-sex marriage after a federal case found its prohibition unconstitutional; the defiance of some county probate judges who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples led to the eventual abandonment of a license requirement.
In recent years, the Alabama Legislature has failed to pass legislation that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s hate crimes bill.
However, the reluctance of Alabama’s elected officials isn’t necessarily a bellwether for public sentiment. In a 2017 poll, Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that 58 percent of those polled supported anti-discrimination measures for LGBT Alabamians. At the same time, 51 percent of Alabamians polled opposed same-sex marriage, compared to 30 percent nationally.