Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Is The Anchorage Assembly Preparing To Throttle Further Debate On The Gay Ordinance AO 2009-64(S-1), Also Known As Ordinance #64?

Post updated June 18th at 12:52 A.M. with the latest information.

On June 17th, 2009, KTUU Channel 2 reported on their 5:00 P.M. broadcast that Anchorage Assembly chair Debbie Ossiander is not only closing the sign-up list for testimony on AO 2009-64(S-1) to all new entrants, but there is a possibility that the Assembly will consult city attorneys to determine if they can cut off the debate and prevent people who are currently signed up to testify to proceed, without incurring legal exposure. Report now posted on the KTUU website, along with another KTUU report (with video) on how various churches are addressing Ordinance #64 from the pulpit. Since this post was first published, KTVA has published a news story HERE and videos accessible via the buttons below:

Meanwhile, KTUU ran a poll in which they asked the question, "Should the Anchorage Assembly continue taking testimony on proposed changes to an anti-discrimination ordinance, or should they limit the public hearing and vote on the issue?" 58 percent voted to limit testimony and vote on the issue rather than continue testimony indefintely. One way to limit testimony without affecting the rights of Anchorage residents to express themselves is to restrict future testimony on this ordinance to Anchorage residents only. However, some Mat-Su residents have testified because although they live in the Mat-Su, they work in Anchorage, so they'd be affected by Anchorage's proposed ordinance.

The only blog originally live-blogging the meeting is Alaska Commons. Although the commentary has a pronounced pro-gay slant, it is informative nonetheless. The Alaska Standard guy also live-blogged it for a while from the comfort of home watching on T.V., until his wife switched the T.V. over to "So You Think You Can Dance". Pathetic, itz! The guy's obviously pussy-whipped to allow that; thanks for reminding me why I'm not married.

Review all previous posts on this issue HERE for background.

Discussion on June 17th centered around the three different versions of Ordinance #64 in circulation. Once public testimony is completely finished, which is unlikely until Tuesday June 23rd, Assembly members would then have to decide which version to pass. Some Assembly members who supported the first version, like Elvi Gray-Jackson and Mike Gutierrez, might not support the third version. Jackie Buckley of Equality Works also says the third version is a dealbreaker, because it would permit employers to consider sexual orientation in hiring decisions.

For the first time, Pastor Jerry Prevo revealed a possible compromise position. Although Pastor Prevo doesn't like any of the three versions presently in circulation, he said he would "possibly" consider supporting an amendment if the word "sexual orientation" was removed and in its place was written "straight, gay and lesbians," and if iron-clad exemptions were given to not only religious organizations but also religious people.

To summarize, here are the three versions of the ordinance currently in circulation, their designations, and their effects:

Ordinance No. AO 2009-64: Original version, this is the most liberal version, and the one supported by Assembly members Flynn, Gray-Jackson, Gutierrez, Drummond, and possibly Selkregg. Known opposition Birch and Starr.

• Adds veteran’s status and sexual orientation to the list of protected categories.
• Defines “sexual orientation” as homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people.

Ordinance No. AO 2009-64(S): Second version crafted by Mayor Matt Claman.

• Removes “veteran’s status.”
• Excludes small, home-operated businesses with no more than four people from the whole law, meaning those businesses can discriminate based on sexual orientation, race, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, age, etc.
• All employers have the right to impose dress codes or other work rules.
• Biologically male people must use male bathrooms, and biologically female people must use female restrooms.
• Exempts religious organizations — so they can discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Ordinance No. AO 2009-64(S-1): Third version, submitted by Debbie Ossiander. Assembly members Gutierrez and Gray-Jackson would drop from the list of supporters.

• Definition of “sexual orientation” is narrowed to exclude transgender people.
• Allows all employers to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
• The city’s Equal Rights Commission is instructed to track complaints alleging discrimination (to inform further discussion).
• Businesses that deal with the public can impose dress codes, work rules, codes of conduct, etc.

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