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Alaskan homophobes move to rescind partner rights via constitutional amendment

How homophobic to you have to be to want to roll back basic rights for gays and lesbians that have just been officially recognized? The answer lies in the actions of some horrible politicians in Alaska. These bigots want to amend the state’s constitution to prevent even the granting of partner benefits. (Juneau Empire):

Senate Judiciary Chairman Ralph Seekins, R-Fairbanks, told the Legislative Council Thursday evening he has a draft constitutional amendment that could be introduced by his committee as early as next week. A constitutional change would require approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate and approval by a majority of voters in November’s election.

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in October that denying gay couples the same public employee benefits as married couples – life and health insurance, plus retirement and death benefits – violates the Alaska Constitution’s equal-protection clause. The court noted that unmarried straight couples also are denied benefits, but they – unlike gay couples – have the option to legally marry.

Bigots: Seekins, Murkowski, Dyson.

Following that ruling, Gov. Frank Murkowski and state Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, separately called for changing the state’s constitution to strike the ruling. “We have no choice but to defend our actions against an interventionist court that is, in my opinion, hard of hearing,” Dyson said Thursday. “We’re going to give the people a chance to speak again, this time maybe a little bit louder.”

The Legislature in 1996 passed a law that said a same-sex couple is not entitled to the benefits of a married couple, which the Alaska Supreme Court found unconstitutional. In 1998, voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Dyson declined to say what the draft amendment specifically says. He said the debate so far has been whether to expressly ban benefits for unmarried couples or to leave the decision to the state and its political subdivisions.

A Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he would wait to see what comes to the panel before making a judgment, but he appeared skeptical. “You’re going to have a tough time convincing me that this is an issue important enough to require an amendment to the state constitution,” said Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage.

To add insult to injury, gay Alaskans will have their tax dollars spent by the state on an attorney who will consult with the legislature on how to best handle the language of the amendment — to ensure homos’ second-class citizenship is ironclad.

The Legislative Council on Thursday approved a $50,000 contract for Anchorage attorney Kevin Clarkson to help the Senate Judiciary Committee refine the draft amendment and provide legal assistance and research.

Marsha Buck, a member of the Juneau chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, said the contract meant lawmakers were seeking state money to prove that her 36-year-old daughter is not equal to their own sons and daughters.

“What happened to liberty and justice for all?” Buck said.

Thanks to Blender Michelle for the pointer.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding