Ten of the nation’s largest department stores, including Kmart, Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Sears, Kmart and Lowe’s, are expected to offer gay and lesbian customers free condoms, birth control and other birth control services through the end of the year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama said Thursday.
The Alabama Department of Public Health and Family Services said the services will be offered at all 10 locations in Montgomery, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Toccoa, and Birmingham, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The ACLU said it had filed a lawsuit against the stores in November.
The ACLU said in a news release that the new services will include free condoms for heterosexual couples, free birth control for lesbian couples, and free condoms or other contraceptive services for transgender people.
The new services were first announced in January.
The Montgomery-based ACLU has been working with the Department of Health to improve health and safety in Montgomery for several years.
Last year, Montgomery County’s health department signed a $1.1 million agreement with the Montgomery-area AIDS Healthcare Alliance, which operates more than 40 health clinics, to increase access to HIV and STDs testing, counseling, testing and treatment.
The ACLU of Alabama released a statement saying it was concerned that the gaylord department stores were going to be the first of the 10 stores to offer these services.
“While we are pleased to see the Montgomery County health department begin to offer a safe, inclusive environment for people to get tested for HIV and other STDs, we are deeply concerned that these new services are being offered by the Montgomery Department of Social Services,” the statement read.
“These services are vital to ensuring that Montgomery residents are not at risk for HIV infection.”
The Montgomery County Health Department said the new countywide services would help people “prevent the spread of the HIV virus,” as well as provide “services to address other health issues and other needs of the community.”
The county has not yet announced the length of the free services or their cost.