“One Anchorage” Takes the Case for LGBT Rights to the People
Last week, an organization called Equality Works launched the One Anchorage Campaign for a ballot initiative to be voted on by Anchorage residents in the Spring 2012 Municipal Election. The initiative would add sexual orientation and transgender identity to the Municipality’s Equal Rights Code.
One Anchorage Files Initiative Application for Legal Protections
The One Anchorage campaign filed an application this morning with the Anchorage Municipal Clerk’s Office to place an initiative on the April 2012 ballot asking voters to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Alaskans in the same legal protections already provided to women and minorities in employment, housing, and public businesses.
Arliss Sturgulewski, a former state senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate is the Initiative Sponsor and Co-Chair of the One Anchorage Campaign. Former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles is the Alternate Sponsor and campaign Co-Chair. Other Sponsors include Alaska Constitutional Convention delegate Vic Fischer, former First Alaskans Institute President & CEO Janie Leask, the Rev. Michael Burke of Anchorage’s St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, and leaders of Alaska’s LGBT community.
“In Alaska, we have a live and let live attitude,” said Sturgulewski “However, under current laws, a woman could be fired from her job solely because she is a lesbian. No one should live in fear that they can be fired for reasons having nothing to do with their job performance.”
Co-sponsor Rev. Burke added: “In Anchorage, we believe that all residents should be treated fairly and equally by our laws. This initiative ensures that gay and transgender Alaskans who work hard and play by the rules will have the exact same legal protections as other Anchorage residents.”
The initiative contains the same language from Ordinance 64 which passed the Assembly 7 to 4 back in 2009, only to be vetoed by Mayor Dan Sullivan. It lacked only one vote to override that veto.
I must admit, when I first heard about the possibility of Anchorage residents actually voting on the civil rights for a group of individuals…I didn’t like it at all. However, over the last few months I’ve talked with those working on the campaign. I’ve participated in community meetings and have seen overwhelming support for an initiative. Surprisingly, I’ve seen folks who felt the same way I did make a transition over time to that of faith in the Anchorage voters and support for the Campaign. Even more surprising, I find myself joining them.
I’ve testified and participated in the last two Ordinance attempts through the Anchorage Assembly (1992 and 2009), both of which won initially but were overturned. It is long past due for the Anchorage LGBT Community to be able to feel secure that they cannot be asked to leave a job simply for whom they love. It is shameful that LGBT couples can be asked to leave their homes because they live together. It’s time to have these protections as part of the code. And let’s not forget, this same protection extends to heterosexuals who might find themselves discriminated against because they are straight.
This is only the beginning of the Campaign and I hope to keep you up to date as things develop. I hope that many of you will choose to participate!