Alabama Republicans Advance Anti-DEI Legislation, Restrictions on Absentee Voting

Credits: Spectrum News

Republicans in the Alabama House of Representatives recently advanced two controversial bills that have stirred up debate within the state. One bill aims to prohibit diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs at universities and state agencies, while the other seeks to impose limits on absentee ballot assistance.

The House approved both bills on a 75-28 party-line vote, following a move by Republicans to cut off debate. These bills will now go back to the Alabama Senate for senators to consider the House’s changes.

Alabama Republican (Credits: WSFA)

The debate over these bills has highlighted sharp differences in viewpoints and politics within the House of Representatives. White Republicans argue that these bills are necessary to prevent the deepening of divisions and to guard against programs that they believe promote a “far-left political ideology.”

On the other hand, Black Democrats see these bills as an attempt to roll back affirmative action programs that promote diversity and inclusivity.

Democratic Rep. Juandalynn Givan of Birmingham went as far as to characterize the legislation as “Alabama’s attempt to kill affirmative action” in a state with a history of racial hatred and discrimination.

The bill targeting DEI programs would prohibit universities, K-12 school systems, and state agencies from sponsoring classes, training, programs, and events where attendance is based on a person’s race, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, national origin, or sexual orientation.

Alabama Republican (Credits: WZDX)

It also lists “divisive concepts” that would be forbidden in classroom lessons and worker training, including any instruction that implies guilt, complicity, or a need to apologize based on race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.

House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, a Republican, defended the bill by stating that it aims to create a level playing field for everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity.

However, Democratic Rep. Pebblin Warren expressed concern, stating, “I see something that you’re holding against somebody because of who they are or what they are. And that really disturbs me.”

In addition to the DEI bill, lawmakers also approved legislation that would make it a felony to pay someone, or receive payment, to order, prefill, collect, or deliver another person’s absentee ballot application.

Ledbetter argued that this measure is necessary to combat voter fraud through “ballot harvesting,” although Democrats countered by stating that there is no proof that such practices exist.

The approval of these bills came on a day when lawmakers began with a program to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, a unit of Black pilots in World War II who faced racism at home while fighting for freedom.

Democratic Rep. Prince Chestnut described it as a “terrible day for people who like justice in Alabama,” referring to the controversial nature of the bills.

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