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Anchorage Alaska passes LGBT non-discrimination ordinance, veto possible

The Anchorage Assembly passed Ordinance 64(S-2) Tuesday night, voting 7-4 to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination policies.

“We are thrilled that the Assembly gave us a majority vote and passed version S-2,” said Jackie Buckley, spokesperson for Equality Works. “We are looking forward to Mayor Dan Sullivan doing the right thing and making Anchorage economically safer for our families.”

Eight votes were needed for a veto-proof majority. Mayor Sullivan has not stated a position on the equal rights ordinance that was introduced three months ago, but he ran on a conservative platform and took anti-gay positions as an Assembly member.

Ordinance 64(S-2) would protect LGBT people against discrimination in housing, employment, finance, education and public accommodations. The ENDA bill being considered by Congress would only protect against employment discrimination.

The Assembly held six long public hearings on the equal rights ordinance, because anti-gay leaders encouraged opponents from as far away as Wasilla to testify on the Anchorage measure.

Many LGBT residents and allies gave testimony to the Assembly on the need for protection, including several who risked their jobs to testify. A series of testimony is posted on Bent Alaska.

This is the third time Anchorage has tried to pass protections for gays and lesbians. Each time, right-wing churches preached against it and unseated Assembly members who voted in favor. Mayor Sullivan’s father, then-Mayor George Sullivan, vetoed the first ordinance.

Wayne Anthony Ross’ infamous letter to the Alaska State Bar newsletter stating that gays are “degenerates”, “immoral”, and a “perversion” was in response to a group fighting the repeal of the second ordinance, in 1993. That ordinance was rescinded. Four months ago, the state legislature denied W.A.R.’s appointment by Sarah Palin to the job of Attorney General of Alaska, in part because of the open homophobia he expressed in that public letter.

At least 108 cities have trans-inclusive non-discrimination laws, including El Paso, TX, Kansas City, MO, Gainesville, FL, and Columbia, SC. In addition, 13 states and Washington, D.C. have LGBT non-discrimination laws.

Will Anchorage finally join those cities and protect our residents against anti-LGBT discrimination, or will Mayor Sullivan tell the nation that Anchorage will continue to allow discrimination?

Contact Mayor Sullivan today and tell him to let Ordinance 64 become Anchorage law! Call (907) 343-7170 or (907) 343-7100, or email him at mayor(at)muni(dot)org.

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