Important Update on the Equal Rights Ordinance

June 6, 2009

There have been very recent changes made to the Equal Rights Ordinance that will be discussed at the Anchorage Assembly meeting on Tuesday, June 9th at 5:00pm at the Loussac Library.

Read the new version of the ordinance here.  Veteran’s status is no longer a part of the ordinance.  Discrimination is now listed as being prohibited “as is provided in this title, subject to the Constitutional rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, and free exercise of religion.”

Public accommodations are more clearly defined as meaning “any business or professional activity, with the exception of a business operated in the business owner’s home employing no more than four persons.”  This should alleviate worried persons that they might have to invite people who are different from coming into their homes!

The most concerning change is this:

“The prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation imposed by this chapter does not apply to discrimination because one’s biological gender in matters such as access to restrooms, nor does it change the rights of employers and operators of public accommodations to impose reasonable dress codes, work rules or other rules of general application.”

What?  Did the transgendered just get thrown under the bus?  Will there be someone hired to stand at the entrance to all the bathrooms in Anchorage, in order to check the genitalia of anyone who tries to walk in, just to make sure they really should use those facilities?  Can women use the ladies’ room if they’re wearing pants?  Where will the line be drawn?

I appreciate that the people making these changes to this much contested-ordinance were likely reacting to accusations from people such as Ivan Moore, whose Flashlight editorial published on Thursday claimed that “Prevo’s right, sort of.”  And I quote:

“On June 9, the Assembly should cut the words “or gender expression or identity” and the related language, and simplify the ordinance down to its real intent, to protect gays from being discriminated against. Gender expression and identity are simply not nice tidy subsets of sexual orientation, and so their placement as such is wrong.  Personally, I think they should consider the inclusion of gender identity, but separately from orientation.  Gender expression should be gotten rid of entirely, the mostly heterosexual crossdressers can just freaking do it in private, and the drag queens… well they don’t care, they like the controversy anyway.”

I think Moore was trying to help.  I really do.  He was pointing out the flaws in the proposed ordinance, in that it was vague in some areas.  But his article, paired with the fear-baiting that Jerry Prevo’s group is using, helped to pressure the Assembly to make changes to the ordinance that remove protections for the transgendered.  Moore is wrong about gender expression not being correlated to sexual orientation, if only that the T in GLBT community stands for the trans-members of said community.  And that community needs to stand together for all of their members on Tuesday.

There are about six representatives on the Anchorage Assembly who have indicated that they might be willing to vote in favor of this ordinance.  This is huge and wonderful, but we could use more.  Remember, these are elected officials, who do what their districts, meaning YOU, tell them to.  If you don’t let them know you support this ordinance, hate is the only thing they’ll be able to hear.

Make them do it.

What can you do?  You can write a quick email to your Assembly Representative, or all of them.  You can come to Loussac Library on Tuesday and give your testimony.  You can tell the Assembly that it’s all or nothing, and that we won’t leave our GLBT brothers and sisters out in the cold.  And you can mean it, because this fight is for equality for all, not just for some.

Find out more about this from better writers than I, and keep yourself informed:

Patrick Flynn’s Blog

Henkimaa’s “We are all, or none

Equality Works Sets the Record Straight

Bent Alaska’s “In Support of a Trangender-Inclusive Ordinance


One comment

  1. […] version that ends in .net, that is), both of whom were present at the Town Hall, wrote in their post about the ordinance changes last night, What?  Did the transgendered just get thrown under the bus?  Will there be someone […]

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