Monday, August 17, 2009

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan Announces His Intent To Veto Ordinance #64, Which Extended Nondiscrimination Protection To Gays

In a statement first released August 17th, 2009 on the Dan Fagan Show, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan announced his intent to veto Ordinance #64, which was intended to extend nondiscrimination protection to gays. Full story now posted by the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2. KTVA Channel 11 is running an unscientific poll on their main page, and as of this update, 53 percent agree with Sullivan's veto, while 47 percent disagree.

Sullivan cited two reasons for his veto. First, he finds that there is no quantifiable evidence of a discrimination problem sufficient to warrant this protection. Second, he reports receiving over 2,500 communications from Anchorage residents, most of who oppose the ordinance. He believes he needs to reflect that type of public will. Full press release posted HERE.

Jim Minnery, president of the Alaska Family Council, says Sullivan's decision was a good one, and says the law would do more harm than good because it would infringe on people's religious beliefs. "We didn't seem to find any homeless people that were homeless because they're gay or lesbian, or folks that were denied loans because they're gay or lesbian or folks who were denied jobs," Minnery said. Further objections to the ordinance have been laid out on the SOS Anchorage website (now deactivated).

But supporters of the ordinance say just because Sullivan hasn't seen discrimination doesn't mean it doesn't exist. "I know people who have been discriminated against -- I can tell you those people testified that they have been discriminated against, and I can tell you simply because someone thinks there is no discrimination is no reason not to have a rule on the books that offers us just as many rights as everyone else," Gail Palmer said. Palmer was one of a couple of dozen people who assembled in front of city hall to peacefully protest Mayor Sullivan's decision.

The Anchorage Assembly voted to pass the ordinance on Tuesday August 11th by a 7-4 vote. They have 21 days to override the veto, and it would require an 8-3 vote. Thus we must make sure the four Assembly members who originally voted against the ordinance remain firm in their opposition. There has been some question as to whether Debbie Ossiander, who originally voted against it, would remain firm. The other three opposing it were Chris Birch, Dan Coffey, and Bill Starr.

This is a gutsy decision on the part of Mayor Sullivan. I was concerned that the unprovoked attack on the homeless Alaska Native hate crime victim Eddie Barr revealed late last week would change his mind. I really wouldn't have blamed Sullivan if he had chosen not to veto it, because we were prepared to launch a campaign for a ballot proposition to be placed on the 2010 municipal election ballot. Thumbs up to Mayor Sullivan for voting for liberty and democracy.

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