Here is the wording of the question to appear on the ballot:
“Shall the current Municipal Code sections providing legal protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, age, physical disability, and mental disability be amended to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender identity?”
If passed, it will get applicable sections of the Anchorage Municipal Code updated to add the phrase "sexual orientation or transgendered identity" to the laundry list of protected classes, but employers and proprietors would still be allowed to maintain separate-gender restrooms and to impose reasonable dress codes upon employees.
One Anchorage is the pro-gay umbrella group leading the charge for the initiative, described by Bent Alaska as the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative (Equality Works is a related website). Prominent Alaskans involved with them include former Gov. Tony Knowles, former "Republican" State Senator Arliss Sturgulewski, AFL-CIO president Vince Beltrami, and NAACP Anchorage president Wanda Greene. Four local churches are involved; St. Mary's Episcopal, United Methodist, Immanuel Presbyterian and Joy Lutheran; the pastor of First Congregational Church, Rev. George E. Blair III, also published a supportive comment.
One Anchorage and its supporters maintain that there is still sufficient discrimination against gays in employment and housing to warrant statutory class protection. To strengthen their case, they issued a preliminary 22-page report on the results of an Anchorage LGBT Discrimination Survey in November 2011. Of course, one must remember that perception of discrimination can be subjective; there is a big difference between merely being "offended" versus actually being abused.
Despite the imposing pro-gay lineup, passage is by no means a slam dunk. Although gay nondiscrimination ordinances are being passed with increasing frequency nationwide, on December 13th, the city of American Fork, Utah indefinitely tabled a proposed gay nondiscrimination ordinance after half the community testified against it. The reason given by the city council was the need for additional discussion and the fact that three new members of the council will take office in January 2012 and they deserve a chance to weigh in.
The Alaska Family Council, which led the successful fight against Ordinance #64 two years ago, intends to lead the pro-family forces into battle against the initiative. Jim Minnery told the Anchorage Daily News "It's not clear that there is any widespread discrimination against the gay community...What is clearer is that this is a true threat to religious liberties." To KTUU Channel 2, he said “They’re kind of barking up the wrong tree if they want government to require this affirmation by the public of a lifestyle, that, for many people it goes against their religious convictions.” Minnery has posted a three-page essay outlining the Alaska Family Council's objections on their website. It is anticipated that Anchorage Baptist Temple Pastor Jerry Prevo will also join the fight against the initiative. Prevo opposed Ordinance #64 in 2009; while his SOSAnchorage website has since been deactivated, a cache of the site is preserved HERE.
Two paragraphs from Jim Minnery's post cut to the chase (after the jump):
For almost fifty years the country has been embroiled in a continual effort to, first change, and then eradicate the traditional moral social and cultural principles that have governed our society from the beginning. Marriage and family, sanctity of life, responsible sexual behavior are the major, though not the only core values, that have been under attack. The progression of the campaign is clear. First, tolerance and choice are the reason for the change. Then, traditional views are suppressed by public opprobrium, but, ultimately, by force of law. The same sex identity initiative belongs to this latter stage. The old values must be prohibited. No toleration here. In a classic Orwellian twist of reality, the initiative, purportedly against discrimination, would, in fact, enshrine massive discrimination in the law against ordinary people whose only crime will be to hold social and moral values that this campaign aims to suppress. Big Brother will be watching you.
This is true. While Pastor Jerry Prevo has been vilified for his opposition to statutory protection of homosexuality, the four churches supporting the new initiative have received no significant criticism. In addition, pro-gay forces launched a savage persecution campaign of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California because of the church's support of Proposition 8; pro-gay activists sought to out the names of California contributors to the Prop 8 campaign in order to target them with "personal activism".
The initiative will undoubtedly gather enough signatures to get on the ballot. The campaign for it will be well funded. It is supported by prominent liberal clergy and politicians and, of course, the local media. Those who dare raise their voices against it will be called bigots and hate mongers. It takes courage to fight for your values when you and those values are vilified in the daily press, but the values are defended for a reason. They are the basis of family and society. The deconstruction that has happened over the last few decades in this country has only damaged society and the people in it. The battle is worth fighting. Be prepared.
Those of us opposing this new initiative should take pride in being called "bigots" and "hatemongers"; they're like battle scars or decorations reflecting meritorious service in the culture wars. As Sarah Palin once said, if you're taking flak, it simply means you're over the target.