An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Well, an issue that polarized a community once has come back to bear here in Anchorage, Alaska.  For those who remember the battle for Ordinance 64 back in 2009, it was the single-largest gathering of open-mindedness and bigotry that Alaska had ever seen.  It brought people out of the woodwork on both sides, and battle of words was hot.  The signs were passionate, and the feelings were raw.  Now, with the signatures turned in, it is very likely that this issue is going to be on the April city elections ballot.

The rule is in Anchorage is that it is illegal to discriminate against a person when it comes to housing, hiring, and things like that because or race, gender, religion, or marital status.  The same cannot be said, however, for sexual orientation.  A person can lose their job just because they are gay.

If this initiative should get onto the ballot, and pass, then it will add sexual orientation to this list.  Why it wasn’t already on there is a complete mystery.  Mayor Dan Sullivan, back in 2009, came out firmly against this, and vetoed the decision as he promised he would.  Now that it is coming back, his office is just as opinionless as ever.

“Mayor Sullivan believes a ballot initiative is appropriate in that it allows  all citizens to weigh in on this subject.”

That particular line was from Sarah Erkmann, Mayor Sullivan’s spokeswoman.  Yes, so, now he believes that this is an important issue that is where everybody should weigh in on, but when it comes to him making the right choice, that was just too much to ask.

Now, while the religious groups of Anchorage got a bad rap last time, due to the biggest religious figure in town, Pastor Jerry Prevo, coming out against this, it seems that this run, there are religious people supporting the intiative.  The group is called Christians for Equality.  It includes a number of churches, such as St. Mary’s Episcopal, United Methodist, Immanuel Presbyterian and Joy Lutheran.  This is a good thing to see from the religious community of Anchorage.

However, where there are people of the faith community who want to do good, there are others who are not so fairness-minded.  If we all remember back in the debate about Ordinance 64, there were plenty of people out with signs talking about how their god wanted the descriminatory policies of the city to remain just like they were.  While they held up signs talking about how the LGBT community was pushing their beliefs, it was pretty clear who was doing the pushing.

And once again, the Alaska Family Council has come out and said that they are going to be opposing this initiative.  There was a statement that was made by the head of Jim Minnery, the president of the AFC.

“It’s not clear that there is any widespread discrimination against the gay  community,” he said. “What is clearer is that this is a true threat to  religious liberties.”

That’s a very interesting argument to make.  How exactly are there threats to religious liberties?  For real, there needs to be an answer to this.  Are the gays going to tell you that you can’t worship?  This is the same kind of ridiculous logic that is used by people like Rick Perry when they need to make themselves seem more legitimate about their presidency.  The fact is that there are not threats to religious liberties, and I challenge Minnery to prove me wrong.  What possible way could the LGBT community stop you and yours from going to church and worshiping your holy figure?  This kind of accusation deserves some very careful scrutiny.

The first point, about there not being any signs of widspread discrimination, well, that is easly countered by the signs above.  Yeah, not a bit of discrimination going on there.  Who knows where it’s coming from.

But whatever one’s opinion, it’s looking like the battle is going to get pretty heated, with the AFC and One Anchorage looking to trade blows, come April, if the 13,515 signatures they got gets this initiative on the ballot.  The tragic part is that since it is so much easier to mobilize the bigoted votes instead of the progessive ones, it is very possible that the initiative will be defeated by the same ridiculous and baseless logic that people like Minnery use.

Here’s a link to the AFC email, in case you want to throw a criticism or two their way – info@alaskafamilycouncil.org

The battle is looking very likely to be on.  Which side do you stand?

Peace out,

Lefty

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