Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Anchorage Mayor Vetoes Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Dan Sullivan, the conservative mayor of Anchorage, Alaska vetoed an ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly in a 7-4 vote that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The ordinance would have prohibited discrimination against the LGBT community in employment, housing, education and other areas. Eight votes are currently required to override the mayor’s veto, and though the Assembly has said they will revisit the issue, it is unlikely the vote will change. An override to the veto must be passed within 21 days or the mayor’s decision.

Sullivan cited a lack of quantifiable evidence that proves such discrimination exists in Anchorage, despite months of public testimony to the contrary. Supporters of the ordinance have also noted that there are currently no formal means for gay men, lesbians, or transgender individuals to file complaints. He also cited public opposition to the ordinance stating, "My review also shows that the vast majority of those who communicated their position on the ordinance are in opposition." According to his office, Sullivan received almost 2,500 comments via phone and email from the community as he considered his decision.

Throughout the summer there were more than 20 hours of public testimony and more than 700 people that testified, many of whom were not from Anchorage. Some observers, including Matt Claman, one of the co-authors of the ordinance, have noted that the opponents of the measure had created a type of public filibuster, ensuring that the debate would continue until after Sullivan was sworn in. Much of the opposition was made up of Christian conservatives, such as Jim Minnery, the President of the Alaska Family Council and Reverend Jerry Prevo, of Anchorage Baptist Temple, who has been fighting against such an ordinance for more than two decades.

Supporters of the bill demonstrated in front of City Hall on Monday evening. Many had not anticipated the veto and were shocked by Sullivan’s decision. Jackie Buckley, a spokeswoman for Equality Works, a pro-ordinance organization in Anchorage stated that the first step will be to take the issue back to the assembly. The assembly’s next meeting will be held August 25th.

To read more from The Anchorage Daily News about the battle brewing in Anchorage as well as Mayor Sullivan's entire statement on this topic, click here.
-Jamie Henkel

4 comments:

NG said...

There was an earthquake today in Alaska, mag 5.0; If one were to use christian logic, it's retribution.

BHanger said...

I'm sorry to hear it's not yet safe to send our adult children to Alaska. Since the pundits in California are predicting its imminent demise, I was hoping to move the whole family north.

E. Ross said...

Prevo and his tax-exempt political action committee have been fighting this ordinance for over 3 decades, since the Assembly passed the first one in 1975.

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