AO 2009-64; The Fate of Equality in Anchorage

August 10, 2009

[Reposted from the Alaska Commons]

Equality-In-Anchorage2“Hello, thank you. My name is Mike [last name omitted]. As a fantastic orator, Mark Hamilton once said responsibility means… if you have the ability to respond, you have the responsibility to speak. I will take a moment to remind all present… of the words in our great constitution, that all persons have the natural right to life, liberty, and enjoyment of industry and are equal, and entitled to equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law.

The essence of this matter is not of [how] one religion or one amnesty group feels, but whether we, as Alaskans, come out in equality to persevere. Denying the rights of an entire minority is beyond morally reprehensible. And something I cannot in good conscience stand idly by to watch happen in my city. I want to make it clear. I do not seek to force or push my opinion on others; merely to be free from their persecution against myself, my brothers, sisters, our children, and yours. The protection of a minority… from the tyranny of a majority is one issue each and every Alaskan ought to be proud of.

I won’t ask you for liberty. I will scream for it from the mountaintops. From city hall and on the steps of the old courthouses. I will fight for liberty because I know better than most that freedom is not free and because it is the American thing to do, I urge you to vote yes.”

This was the twenty-first testimony offered to the Anchorage City Assembly during the public hearings regarding the fate of Anchorage Ordinance 64; the (unsuspectingly to many) controversial legislation which would extend workplace, housing, and credit protections to the LGBT community.

The biggest problem faced by our community and a largely patient, accommodating, and attentive city assembly was that, of the more than 600 three-minute testimonies offered by residents of Anchorage, and peppered liberally (entertaining to use that word in this application) with people from other cities and states, AO 64 wasn’t the focus of the argument at all.

The S2 version of the ordinance (the third draft of this legislation) proposed by Assembly member Patrick Flynn summarizes the intent and purpose perfectly:

“It is the express intent of this title to guarantee fair and equal treatment under law to all people of the Municipality, consistent with federal and state constitutional freedoms and laws, including freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the free exercise of religion.”

This, throughout all the prevailing tumult, has been the aim of the LGBTA community; to finally be recognized as equal in the eyes of the law. To be protected, and to not leave any of their ranks under the bus. To have somewhere to go when they are denied basic civil liberties because they suffer from the same “human condition” that we all are afflicted with.

From Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

From Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

Alaska is a conservative state, and Anchorage is also weighted heavily with an evangelical and conservative outfit that is screaming bloody murder in the face of this ordinance. Much like we are seeing with the tea party movement, some members of our community feel that if an assembly member were to accurately reflect the views of those whom they were elected to serve, they should vote down this ordinance. But the message sent by AO-64 supporters to the assembly is a powerful one: The needs of a minority outweigh the wants of a majority. Equality should always trump opinion, regardless of the numbers. As elected officials, public policy has to be a very calculated dance with a concerted effort to reflect one’s constituency. But, issues like this, at first glance, seem to turn the logic of the duties of public office on its head. Which is more important: the views of a majority of people in your district, thousands strong, whom you were elected to represent, or the possible life of a single teenager that can’t deal with a society that believes he or she is less than human? Is backing him/her up really shameful legislative activism?

I strongly believe it is not. And that same majority, spoiled by the strong numbers which have secured them, would feel the same if they were put in a similar position. Among all the claims of this ordinance being against the bible and against the intentions of our founding father, I would relay the words of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist Papers No.51:

“In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature, where the weaker individual is not secured against the violence of the stronger; and as, in the latter state, even the stronger individuals are prompted, by the uncertainty of their condition, to submit to a government which may protect the weak as well as themselves; so, in the former state, will the more powerful factions or parties be gradnally induced, by a like motive, to wish for a government which will protect all parties, the weaker as well as the more powerful.”

Tables can turn. Our forefathers were wary of that, if not paranoid. But they believed that equality could not be infringed upon, because of equality.

“…The society itself will be broken into so many parts, interests, and classes of citizens, that the rights of individuals, or of the minority, will be in little danger from the interested combinations of the majority.”

If we were a universally equal people, this would most likely hold true. But we aren’t. And, because we aren’t, certain people in our community can pool resources, wealth, and ideology, and use it as trans-generational doctrine to suppress any who try to rise up from within; identical to the corporate interest groups that have scripted the outrage in our current health care debate. And certain institutions can do it without even having to pay taxes.

Instead, these groups can simply warn their flock that a storm is coming, and it makes God angry.

Anchorage Baptist Temple

Anchorage Baptist Temple

And it’s a big and mighty storm; a weather pattern consisting of one part Satan, and two parts “the gay,” who have no legal backing from the discriminatory actions of those claiming to be the victims. Taking heed from the story of Noah and the Great Flood, they prepare. They build mighty fortresses. Compounds. They open private schools and teach children from a young age about what is good and what is evil, meanwhile calling for public funded education to be drowned in the bathtub; wasteful spending. They advertise on their websites that they have the answers to life’s most challenging questions… every Sunday!

In one case, an institution even openly displays its belief system in regard to law, stating “a sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origins,” meaning that they carry a banner that proclaims that God’s Law, as interpreted by man, trumps the United States Constitution, state law, and of course, our city assembly.

That’s an understandable claim when you take it as a parallel to the bumper stickers that can be viewed all over town with the message: “Don’t judge me by my car, my treasure awaits me in heaven.” Awesome, I hope you invested well. But some of us live here and plan on continuing to live here. We’ll be here after you’ve been airlifted to the pearly gates. But while we’re sharing the planet, we would kindly appreciate more than the bottom of your boot in our face. For some of us, the future still exists on planet Earth. And that includes investing in a future our children, rather than just passing down ideology. Even the gay kids!

The outrage that has come out into the open lately has brought us to a pivotal moment in our young city’s history. And, right now, it’s ugly. Mudflats, earlier today, posted a report on some of the hurtful events that took place outside of Senator Mark Begich’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Celtic Diva reported on this as well. Anchorage, arguably more than any other city in the country, depends on our sense of community. Now it’s ripping us apart, and it needs to stop.

I implore you to lay down your anger. Open your mind and your heart, and remember that we’re all in this together. Nothing good comes from destruction. Let’s not tear down this conversation; this community.

Email the Assembly, and Mayor Sullivan.

Show up tomorrow. Not to disrupt the events, but to listen and lend your support to a struggle that is far older and wiser than any of us.

Loussac Library. 5pm (Although I suggest 3pm if you want to make it inside).

Equality now.

from Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

from Floridana Alaskiana v2.5



  1. […] This post was Twitted by EventAnchorage […]

  2. […] John Aronno wrote an interesting post today onAO 2009-64; The Fate of Equality in Anchorage « SOS AnchorageHere’s a quick excerpt […]

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