Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So Who's Really Behind The Proposed Anchorage Gay Nondiscrimination Ordinance? Profiling The "Equality Works" Coalition

Note: All posts on the Anchorage 2009 gay ordinance can be viewed HERE, beginning with the most recent post.

We already know who's promoting AO 2009-64, the proposed legislation which would expand Anchorage's existing nondiscrimination ordinance to include gays and, to sweeten the pot, veterans as well. We also already know who the prominent opponents of this legislation are. But now it's time to examine those who are actually behind it. According to a May 20th, 2009 article in the Anchorage Press, the umbrella group behind the ordinance is called Equality Works (the link I supply gets you past their clunky, cheesy Intro page and straight to their Home page).

Unlike professional sourpuss Elise Patkotak, who expressed her support of the ordinance by launching two bitter, vindictive personal attacks on Pastor Jerry Prevo on May 19th and again on May 26th, Equality Works' promotion of the ordinance is considerably more professional and nuanced. Of course, first comes the "style". Upon entering the website, you are immediately greeted with the accusatory visage of the quintessential anorexic counterculture waif, replete with the obligatory al-Qaeda style designer bandanna, staring out at you with those huge classical soulful Manga eyes in order to trip your guilt levers. This guy looks like he either hasn't had a square meal in a month, or else he's living on Evian and tofu.

But then comes the "substance". More seriously, Equality Works defines itself as a coalition of organizations and individuals working to protect Anchorage citizens from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in matters of employment, housing, and public accommodations. They specify three reasons why they support including gays in official nondiscrimination protection:

(1). WE BELIEVE that Anchorage workers deserve to be judged solely on their qualifications and merits of their work. Yet they express this belief by citing examples of how other jurisdictions have piled on laws and ordinances to create an endless Balkanized array of protected classes and intrude upon personal choice. The fact is, those of us who oppose changing the ordinance ALSO believe Anchorage workers should be judged solely on merits. We should not be forced to hire someone or keep someone on board simply because they're a member of a "protected class".

(2). WE BELIEVE that all Alaskans deserve protection from discrimination or harassment. Yet this protection already exists in many forms. Harassment can be a civil matter or even a criminal matter, based upon the nature of harassment. And the only real way a boss or landlord will find out that someone is gay is if they act openly campy or engage in public affection. Furthermore, the market also acts as a deterrent against discriminatory behavior; an enterprise which discriminates will earn community opprobrium and lose custom - and profits.

(3). WE BELIEVE that no Alaskan should have to deny who they are in order to keep a job or an apartment. But this is another red herring. I haven't seen a job or lease application where I've been asked to specify sexual orientation. I also haven't seen an employee handbook which specifies an employee can be fired for being gay or a lease agreement which specifies a lease can be terminated merely because the tenant is gay. However, such agreements can specify sanctions to applied in the event of certain types of behavior deemed undesirable by the boss or landlord, which is fully in keeping with the right of a boss to control his workplace or the right of a landlord to control his property.

And who is this coalition making up Equality Works? Here is the complete roster:

-- Alaska Women's Lobby
-- Alaska Women's Political Caucus
-- Alaskans Together for Equality
-- Alliance for Reproductive Justice-Alaska
-- American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska
-- Anchorage Education Association
-- Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
-- Anchorage Urban League
-- Association of Fundraising Professionals-Alaska Chapter
-- Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network-Anchorage (GLSEN)
-- Identity, Inc.
-- Immanuel Presbyterian Church
-- League of Women Voters of Anchorage
-- National Association of Social Workers-Alaska Chapter
-- Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
-- Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest

Common denominators: Groups all left-of-center to hard left politically, some overtly pro-gay, others pro-feminist, still others pro-abortion. None representative of mainstream American opinion. In particular, the National Education Association (the parent of the AEA) is a notoriously gay-friendly union; read about their outrageous activities at their 2006 national conference HERE.

While Equality Works is to be given credit for keeping the discourse elevated, they have embraced the un-American notion that equality takes precedence over liberty. The proposed change to Anchorage's nondiscrimination ordinance is a solution looking for a problem.

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