Yes, boys and girls… it’s time for Red Shirt Theatre, Act V. The Non-Discrimination Ordinance public testimony continues. The link for live streaming the Anchorage Assembly Meeting is HERE.
Use this thread to live blog the meeting if you feel so inclined. Public testimony will be given regarding Ordinance 64, which extends Anchorage’s non-discrimination policy to include the words “sexual orientation.” The red shirt brigade are an organized crowd from several local area evangelical churches.
This will be the second round of public testimony in front of new Mayor Dan Sullivan.
Recent polling suggests that the ordinance has very good public support, although you’d never know it from watching these meetings.
The meeting runs until 11pm Alaska time (midnight Pacific, 3am Eastern) and I am unsure when public testimony on this topic will begin. Stay tuned…
That’s it, folks. The public testimony is closed. The Assembly voted to extend the meeting 20 minutes to make it to the end of the list. Ossiander hit the gavel at 11:20pm. Now they actually get to discuss it next time.
Tonight at the Assembly Chambers in the Loussac Library is the next bout of public testimony about the now infamous Ordinance 64, which would add the term “sexual orientation” to the current non-discrimination policy for housing, employment, public facilities and education.
The meeting runs from 5-11pm, with details HERE. Link to streaming and live blogging will be available on The Mudflats.
This guest blog is from a Mudflats reader who is a retired pastor with a doctor of ministry (D. Min) degree. He is a long time Anchorage area resident who wanted to share his thoughts.
I went over to the Loussac Library on a beautiful, warm, sunlit Wednesday evening in June. I wanted to see for myself what had been reported on the news: the Anchorage Assembly was considering a proposal to ban job and housing discrimination against homosexuals; numbers of people wearing red were turning out in opposition; numbers of people wearing blue were showing up in support.
The Assembly chambers were already packed when I arrived, and the area outside the council room was filled with people trying to edge their way in through the doors. No problem: there was another show out on the lawn, lining up along the street, and it looked like it would be a more entertaining show than the one inside. People wearing red shirts waving signs and yelling at the passing traffic. Other people in blue shirts waving signs and yelling at the passing traffic.
I watched the people in red shirts busily condemning sinners. They sure seemed to know who was righteous (think red shirts) and who was condemned by God (um, blue shirts). Signs quoted Leviticus. I watched more and more people in red shirts get off busses and make their way to the lawn. The people wearing red were serious: doing God’s work is a great responsibility. They talked about Jesus a lot. They frowned a lot. They showed great indignation that those other people (the ones in the blue shirts) were even there.
I watched the people in blue (and in purple and in rainbow and all in kinds of colors) busily . . . having a party. Some music. Some dancing. A lot of smiles. A whole lot of accepting, and welcoming one another.
And it took a while, but eventually I realized that I had heard this story before.
Jesus told a story about two brothers. You can read his telling of the story in Luke 15:11-32. The older brother (think red shirts) was obedient, hardworking, and respectful to his father. The younger brother (think blue shirts) was less obedient, a lot less hardworking, and downright disrespectful to his father. Okay, he demanded his inheritance and then went to Vegas and blew the money on loose living. He was an out-and-out sinner. We know he lived with pigs. There’s an allegation about harlots. And when the money was gone and he was desperate, he came home.
Now you would expect the father to give him the Big Lecture. How this son had failed. How he had disgraced the family. The many violations of Leviticus. How the disgraceful son should look up to his older brother – the good one, the obedient one – as an example of proper behavior.
But none of that happened.
The way Jesus told it, the father ran down the road to embrace his son, welcomed him back, invited the neighbors over, had the fattened calf slaughtered for the party, and sent for musicians to help with the celebration. He loved his son! The father’s love for his sons had nothing to do with obedience to rules; it was simply love.
Meanwhile, the older brother – who never left, who never once violated a law from his father – just could not believe that his father threw a party for the younger son. “What’s this I hear? Music? Dancing? For that sinner?” He was aghast that the father would welcome such a sinner. And he stayed out in the fields, refusing to welcome his brother.
When the story ends, the older brother is out there alone, refusing to join the party, unreconciled to his brother, unreconciled to his father.
And I saw the same story on the lawns outside Loussac Library on that Wednesday evening in June. A party going on — and people who refused to join in the celebration, more intent on self-righteousness and condemnation of their brother than on the father’s love.
Isn’t it funny that the red-shirt people – who talk about Jesus a lot – have not learned from his teaching?
Today, new developments arise in the matter of controversial Assembly ordinance #64. The ordinance would add the words “sexual orientation” to the city’s non-discrimination law. Those two little words have drawn battle lines, and made Assembly meetings look like a weird hybrid of football game, church revival and street fair.
Walking into the Loussac Library feels like the moment when you hold your nose, take a deep breath and jump in the pool, not knowing quite how cold it’s going to be. The brain chemicals are pumping, and the emotions eminating from reds and blues alike make the air thick, and wear down the emotions in short order.
The “red shirt brigade” doesn’t want this ordinance to pass. They know that 1) the majority of citizens in Anchorage do want it to pass 2) the Assembly is likely to vote for it 3) Mayor Matt Claman will not veto it.
Mayor Matt Claman
So, they plan a filibuster. Mayor Claman will no longer be mayor after July 1. At that time, conservative Dan Sullivan will take over. They hope that he will veto the ordinance. So they cancel church services on Wednesday night to get people to testify. They bus in people from the Valley, who aren’t even Anchorage residents.
They usher in Christian youth groups who are visiting from the Lower 48 to hold professionally printed signs and wear donated red t-shirts. They want to make the line so long that this will roll over, 3 minutes at a time, into a Sullivan administration. They’re hoping for the veto.
Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander
Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander allowed two full days to sign up to give testimony. About 550 people signed up, and after three nights of testimony, about half of them were heard. Ossiander announced the decision to cut off the sign up, and finish up with those who were already on the list. There were many complaints. After (presumably) a legal opinion was rendered. Ossiander reversed her position, and will allow more people to sign up. This means more hours and days of:
Love the sinner, hate the sin.
Gays have more germs.
I don’t want pedophiles in my four-plex!
They’re all going to “recruit” our children!
There will be dozens…no hundreds of lawsuits!
It’s going to bankrupt the city and ruin my business!
This is all going to lead to sex with donkeys!!! (no I’m not kidding)
My kid’s teacher is going to show up in a dress!
My teenage daughter was traumatized by a man in a dress in the ladies’ room! (This seems to be a frequent complaint at these meetings…)
~~~Shannyn Moore really has to pee. But, what if.....
We don’t need to do anything to “encourage this behavior.”
Jesus doesn’t approve of homosexuals.
You’re denying people the right to act on their religious beliefs.
It’s a choice whether you want to be a pervert or not.
I used to be gay, but I prayed real hard and now I’m cured!
You gays think you have it bad….you never had to sit at the back of the bus!
What if a transsexual comes in to the men’s room and stands there watching me pee?
I’m never going to want to hire a gay person again because now if I fire them for bad job performance, they’re all going to sue me.
And my personal favorite (in light of all of the above), “We don’t need this ordinance. There is no discrimination in this town.”
and on and on and on and on and on….
Mayor Claman is finishing out the term begun by former Mayor now Senator Mark Begich. He stepped up from his Assembly seat to fill in. So when Sullivan starts, Claman is back on the Assembly and an additional yes vote. Then there’s Assemblyman Dan Coffey, widely rumored to be leaving the Assembly to serve as Sullivan’s Chief of Staff. That’s one less no vote. It takes 8 votes of the Assembly for a veto-proof majority, and with one extra yes and one less no…the odds change.
And nobody knows for certain what Dan Sullivan will do. Rumors are swirling that he’s kind of dreading having it land in his lap. That’s a heck of a way to start off a squeaky clean, brand new administration. Kinda like that scene in “Carrie” when Sissy Spacek shows up at the prom in the pretty dress ready for the night of her life, and then …. the bucket dump.
Surely Sullivan is not looking forward to angering the very loud, very obnoxious minority and incur “the wrath of the red shirts.” Neither is he going to want to alienate the less loud, voting majority who will see a veto as the new mayor caving in to a radical religious fringe group who are acting like bullies.
And regardless of how the Assembly vote pans out, we are likely to have a ballot initiative next time around. A little more than 5,000 signatures will be needed to put the question to the people. Both sides have talked about this strategy should the ruling not go their way. But can the people vote democratically on matters of civil liberties? We certainly couldn’t vote slavery back, even with a majority. We’ve yet to have this issue addressed.