A message from Equality Works

August 10, 2009

Equality Works Logo

The next Assembly meeting is this Tuesday, August 11th. While there are no certainties, this very well may be the day that Assembly members get to a debate and vote on AO 64. I know that many of you couldn’t bear to sit through the public hearings and the offensive testimony that demonized the LGBTQ community over the last couple of months. And I have been told that some of you have given up hope that your presence in the Assembly Chambers means anything. But I assure you that it does mean something. It means something to the people who have spent time writing letters, getting petitions signed, meeting with Assembly members, and giving testimony to feel surrounded and supported by friends and allies. And it means something to Assembly members who plan to vote for AO 64 and need to know that the citizens of Anchorage appreciate their courage.

If Not for You, Then for Who?

This could be the last time to show the Assembly members that their constituents support legislation to protect people from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. Over the last couple of weeks they have sat through verbal abuse and threats to vote them out of office if they dare vote “Yes” on AO 64. They need to be reminded that they have constituents who are grateful for their vote to support equality. If we cannot be present to show them where we stand, it is more difficult for them to feel accountable to us. One Equality Works supporter put it this way: “No matter what happens, I want them to see me when they are making their decision. I want them to look me in the eyes.” Assembly members need to know whose lives are being affected when they cast a vote for equality and whose rights are being denied when they vote “No.”

So Be There on Tuesday

You don’t have to testify, you don’t have to engage in debates with people in red shirts, all you have to do is be there to show your support for equality. If you have never come to an Assembly meeting, please consider showing up on this crucial day. The meeting starts at 5:00 pm, but as usual, you should try to be there much earlier if you want to get a seat. 4:00 would not be too early. Doors generally open at 3:00 pm.You know the drill: Blue shirts, Equality Works buttons.

Coffey’s Resolution

Assembly Member Dan Coffey plans to introduce a Resolution to establish a task force to study the extent of discrimination against LGBT people in Anchorage and whether or not such discrimination warrants protection. The proposed resolution implies that protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation would somehow infringe upon the freedoms of religion and association.

We at Equality Works believe that discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation has already been studied and proven. The State of Alaska Human Rights Commission—an unbiased agency—declared nearly twenty years ago that the State Legislature should pursue a statute banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation [Resolution 90-01]. The case has already been made. It is time for our representatives to act.

Furthermore, we believe that it is erroneous to argue that protecting LGBT people from discrimination infringes upon religious rights. How could 108 other cities and 13 states (including D.C.)  have made such a “mistake” without any of the consequences that opponents of AO 64 predict? Religious freedoms are clearly and strongly protected in the U.S. Constitution. No local law could ever trump the power of the Bill of Rights.

Now is not the time for a resolution. It is time for our Assembly members to vote on AO 64.

Support S-2 version of the ordinance

For those of you who dont know already, an S-2 version of the ordinance has been submitted for consideration by Patrick Flynn:

We believe that his is a strong revision that acknowledges the concerns of some in the religious community by broadening the religious exemption, but does not weaken the original intention of the ordinance to protect LGBT people from discrimination. It includes employment protections for our entire community–including transgender individuals. Please call or e-mail your Assembly members and tell them to put their support behind the S-2 version. We want to make sure that this version of the ordinance is the one that is debated and eventually voted upon. You can find there contact information here: http://www.muni.org/iceimages/Assembly2/2009assemblycontactlist.pdf

Call or E-Mail Mayor Sullivan and Write a Letter to the Editor

Mayor Sullivan hasn’t publicly stated what he will do if the ordinance reaches his desk, but he needs to know that people in Anchorage support equality, he needs to know why you support equality, and he needs to hear that vetoing an ordinance to protect LGBT people from discrimination sends the message that he, as the Mayor of Anchorage, believes that LGBT people should be discriminated against in employment, housing, education, and public accommodations. If he doesn’t want to send that message, then he should not veto this ordinance. If you havent already, please, please, please call or e-mail Mayor Sullivan at mayor@muni.org or call (907) 343-7170 or (907) 343-7100. If you’ve already written Mayor Sullivan, please write a Letter to the Editor.

Remember to be respectful. No one responds positively to insults, accusations, or anger.

Thanks & See You on Tuesday,

Tiffany McClain


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