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Anti HB56 rally at UAB; law affects LGBT community

Pastor Matt Lacey of Woodlawn UMC addressing the crowd
Pastor Matt Lacey of Woodlawn UMC addressing the crowd
Joe Openshaw

Today at UAB approximately 75 people, mostly students, gathered to protest HB 56, the anti-immigration bill that Judge Sharon Blackburn ruled on today. The ruling was made public as the group marched from campus to Five Points South and back.

UAB students and others march against HB56
Joe Openshaw

Before the march Matt Lacey, pastor at Woodlawn United Methodist Church, spoke about how the law affects his ability to perform his duty as a Christian, and questioned whether someone had snuck into the legislators offices and removed the parts of the Bible that support acceptance of immigrants. He may have been responding to Leviticus 19:33-34, which states

"When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God."

When the legal challenges to the bill were put before the court, Equality Alabama submitted a statement of support with the Hispanic Coalition of Alabama lawsuit. (Full disclosure - at the time, I was Chair of Equality Alabama, a position I no longer hold).

The statement reads

Equality Alabama is a nonpartisan, statewide 501(c) (3) organized to advance equality and civil rights for Alabama’s people. With a special interest in securing basic human rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, Equality Alabama members understand the challenges faced by minorities. We’ve long worked to protect civil rights under our State and Federal Constitutions, believing that no person or group should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination. The enforcement of laws such as HB56
worsens discrimination against our communities of color. The foreign-born are our neighbors, friends, members, and life partners. Lacking federal recognition of our same-sex unions, we cannot sponsor our spouses for citizenship. Under this law our most loved are unnecessarily targeted. Accordingly, Equality Alabama has a strong interest in the outcome of this case and in enjoining enforcement of HB 56.

During the march, I was able to speak with several people about LGBT issues with the law regarding bi-national couples and families in our state. This allowed for further discussion regarding marriage inequality.

Marchers let their feelings be known with signs and leaflets and with chants.

"Tell me what democracy looks like./ This is what democracy looks like."

"In Alabama and every state./ The people say 'No to hate.'"

The ruling on the law was revealed during the march, and disappointment was felt by those who learned of the mixed ruling. Pastor Lacey may still be able to minister immigrants without fear of reprisal, and the ones he is assisting may still seek employment. But they can still be profiled and detained based on suspicion, and schools will still have to certify the citizenship of children before they can educate them.


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