Virginia Senate votes to revoke tax-exempt status for United Daughters of the Confederacy

Askew argued that the state's tax code "should reflect our values and what we want the Commonwealth to be now."

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
On Tuesday, the Virginia Senate voted 23-17 in favor of a bill that would strip the United Daughters of the Confederacy of their tax-exempt status in the state. The UDC was founded in 1894 and was comprised of women's groups that had aided soldiers during the Civil War. After the war, they worked to support veterans of that war and erect monuments in their memory.

A supplementary measure seeking to force the United Daughters of the Confederacy and a number of other related groups to pay property taxes was also passed in the Senate, but will need to be voted on by members of the House before it can be attached to the original bill and sent to Governor Glenn Youngkin's desk for signing.

The bill, introduced in January by Democratic House Delegate Alex Askew, "eliminates the exemption from state recordation taxes for the Virginia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and eliminates the tax-exempt designation for real and personal property owned by the Virginia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the General Organization of the United Daughters of the Confederacy."

The supplementary measure strips the Confederate Memorial Literary Society, and the Stonewall Jackson Memorial, Incorporated of their exempt status as well.

As ABC8 reports, Askew argued that the state's tax code "should reflect our values and what we want the Commonwealth to be now," noting that "historic organizations like NAACP and other groups that are really moving things and have had connections within our community in pushing what we believe forward" don't get any benefits.

"It's about who we are giving special privileges to and what they stood for," he added. "We know that the United Daughters of the Confederacy has continued to push the narrative of the lost cause and we don't need to continue to support that in our tax code."

According to the Encyclopedia Virginia, the lost cause narrative posits that secession, not slavery, was the main cause of the Civil War, that Confederate soldiers should be revered, that the Confederacy would have won had the Union not had more men and resources, and that African Americans were not ready for freedom.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy has pushed back against the claim that it has worked to spread such a narrative, writing on its website that it "totally denounces any individual or group that promotes racial divisiveness or white supremacy ... We call on these people to cease using Confederate symbols for their abhorrent and reprehensible purposes."

The group, which has maintained a number of statues and monuments for their Confederate ancestors, has argued that they should not be viewed as offensive or pro-slavery.

"To some, these memorial statues and markers are viewed as divisive and thus unworthy of being allowed to remain in public places," it said in a statement. "To others, they simply represent a memorial to our forefathers who fought bravely during four years of war. These memorial statues and markers have been a part of the Southern landscape for decades."

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