Thursday, September 01, 2011

Equality Works Launches Campaign To Get Gay Nondiscrimination Ordinance On The Anchorage 2012 Municipal Election Ballot

The gay rights group Equality Works has filed an application on September 1st, 2011 to launch a petition campaign to get a prospective nondiscrimination ordinance on the ballot for the Anchorage 2012 Municipal Election to be held on April 3rd, 2012. The end result would be to get applicable sections of the Anchorage Municipal Code updated to include the phrase "sexual orientation or transgendered identity" on the laundry list of protected classes; employers and proprietors would still be allowed to maintain separate-gender restrooms and to impose reasonable dress codes upon employees.

The municipal clerk's office has 10 days to approve the proposed ballot initiative application; upon approval, the group must collect 5,871 signatures from Anchorage voters within 90 days to get the initiative on the ballot. The group is calling this the One Anchorage Campaign, but they use the Equality Works website. These same people were behind the unsuccessful attempt to get Ordinance #64 passed in 2009; the drawn-out political battle for Ordinance #64 is chronicled in this series of posts.

Primary media sources are the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Dispatch; the pro-gay blog Bent Alaska also addresses this at length. Here are links to the two significant documents:

-- Official press release from Equality Works
-- Proposed petition, which includes specific sample ordinance.

The case for an ordinance: One Anchorage Campaign spokesman Trevor Storrs says this initiative would ensure that gay and transgender Alaskans, who work hard and play by the rules, will have the exact same legal protections as any other Anchorage resident. To buttress their case, they plans to release more supporting documentation in coming weeks, to include specific examples of discrimination via personal stories and public opinion data.

The case against an ordinance: Alaska Family Council President Jim Minnery continues to dispute the need for such an ordinance. He says Anchorage is already a tolerant community and opines that the campaign is really about gays getting affirmation of their lifestyle. Minnery does consider the proposed initiative a potential threat to religious liberty; he does not believe that someone who believes the practice of homosexuality is wrong should be required to "check their beliefs at the church door" and be forced to provide services to gays or lesbians. Minnery says there is no organized effort by social conservatives to oppose the ordinance campaign yet. Catholic Anchor has yet to publicly sound off.

Minnery's concerns are not without merit. While there's no evidence that Equality Works is using this initiative as a Trojan Horse to promote homosexuality as a preferential lifestyle and to censor debate, there's no guarantee that either they or some other group won't impose additional demands in the future. It has been the tradition of the civil rights cartel to use "reasonable" bills as Trojan Horses for more intrusive legislation later on; their premise is "what's theirs is theirs and what's ours is negotiable".

Some examples: In July 2011, the state of Illinois declined to renew its foster care and adoption contracts with Catholic Charities because the organization would not pledge to comply with the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, which the state says requires prospective parents in civil unions to be treated the same as married couples. In April 2011, the last remaining Roman Catholic adoption agency in the United Kingdom, Catholic Care, was told by the Charity Tribunal that they cannot exclude gay and lesbian couples as prospective adoptive parents under the provisions of the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations. More chillingly, a bill introduced by Congressman Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-CA13), named the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” and designated H.R. 1681, would ban discrimination in adoption and foster-care placement. The bill now has 60 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, all but one a Democrat.

Anchorage Baptist Temple Pastor Jerry Prevo opposed Ordinance #64 in 2009. While his SOSAnchorage website has since been deactivated, a cache of the site is preserved HERE.

Community Reaction: Back in June, there was an explosion of public comments at the KTVA website after the death of James Crump in the gay pride parade; many are critical of gays. Comments to today's ADN story seem more supportive of gay rights. But there are exceptions:

Glen Biegel (KBYR conservative talk show host):
...This ordinance forces their beliefs on everyone else. Read the ordinance. Gays have every right here in the City that everyone else does. They just don't have special rights.

You can say what you like. A sexual perversion isn't a marriage. Homosexuals today, pedophilia tomorrow.

How do you make something worth less? You make more of it or you call other things, equal to it.

Also, you keep refering to the constitution. Do you SERIOUSLY believe the founding fathers and framers of our constitution intended to protect homosexual marriage? That is ridiculous

We don't need to disclose our sexual proclivities, marital status or medical histories with future employers-it's already a civil right we have. Some gays just want affirmation from those of us who could care less whether they are gay or not. (it has something to do with acceptance they don't feel they have-probably because many gays still struggle deep down with it themselves) I've worked in gay offices, and found that they were no different than straight offices. Most gay people don't care about this ordinance stuff, they are too busy with their families! And for the record, LOTS of us get discriminated against, spit on, and attacked, even if we're not gay. You can't legislate human decency. I just wish people would stop worrying about how someone chooses to live, or who they live with---it's not their business!

Judging by the initial reaction, the chances of Equality Works getting the requisite 5,861 signatures not only seems good, but a subsequent initiative could conceivably pass, unless opponents can convince voters of the possibility that this might be a Trojan Horse.

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