Open Thread: National Columnist Dan Savage Talks-Up One Anchorage
On Thursday, nationally syndicated columnist (and creator of the “Santorum Google Bomb”) Dan Savage did a great write-up on his blog about One Anchorage. He put our Proposition 5 (yup, that’s what it will be on the ballot) in perspective compared to the big news coming out of Washington State:
Washington State Got Marriage Equality This Week—But Anchorage Doesn’t Even Have Basic Civil Rights Protections for LGBT People
Thirty-five years—that’s how long they’ve been fighting for basic civil rights protections up here in Anchorage, Alaska.
The city and county governments of Anchorage combined into one body in 1976—the Municipality of Anchorage—and the new Assembly put together an equal rights ordinance that covered race, sex, religion, marital status, and “sexual preference.” Anchorage’s 11-member Assembly approved the new Equal Rights Ordinance unanimously. Then Dr. Jerry Prevo, pastor of the Anchorage Baptist Temple, organized a campaign to pressured the mayor into deleting the protections for sexual preference from the ordinance. Prevo then went after the assemblymembers and managed to scare enough off that there weren’t enough votes to override the mayor and restore “sexual preference” to Anchorage’s Equal Rights Ordinance.
In 1992/1993 the city tried again—but this time the Equal Rights Ordinance only covered municipal employees. It was approved by the Assembly and signed into law by the mayor. But Jerry Prevo organized the opposition, ran haters against the assemblymembers who had approved the law, and Prevo’s new Assembly repealed the Equal Rights Ordinance.
In 2009 the city tried again: Ordinance 64—an equal rights bill that covered “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression”—was taken up by the Anchorage Assembly. Dr. Jerry Prevo once again led the opposition, this time with a reach-around from Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council. Anchorage’s acting mayor had pledged to sign the bill into law so the Prevo and Minnery did all they could to delay passage. They bused people to Anchorage from Wasilla—remember Wasilla?—and from bible camps outside of Anchorage to testify against the bill, drawing testimony out for weeks. The anti folks testified that they would never hire or rent to gays or lesbians and then turned around and argued that there was no need for the law because gays and lesbians aren’t discriminated against.
The Assembly approved Ordinance 64 by a 7-4 vote. But Prevo and Minnery had successfully run out the clock: Anchorage had a new mayor—Dan Sullivan—and he vetoed the Ordinance 64. The Assembly didn’t have the eight votes needed to override the mayor’s veto.
The LGBT community in Anchorage—sick of waiting for basic civil rights protections—decided to put an equal rights initiative on the ballot. One Anchorage needed to gather 5,871 signatures to qualify; they quickly gathered 13,600 signatures. Voters in Anchorage will say “yes” or “no” to Proposition 5 on April 3. The mayor and city council don’t have the power to veto or rescind a voter-approved initiative. So voters here approve Prop 5, Anchorage will finally—after 35 years—have an equal rights law that protects LGBT citizens.
You can read the rest of his excellent piece at his blog, “The Stranger.”
Remember, One Anchorage still needs your donation help. You know where those haters of equal rights and freedom will be getting their money: Jerry Prevo will be collecting cash with fire and brimstone from the pulpit while Minnery and his minions are already hard at it. (Did another “Dan,” of the “Fagan,” variety really claim, while Minnery was on his radio show, that any business or individual should be able to fire or evict gay and transgender folks under the guise of “religious freedom?”)
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