Posts Tagged ‘anchorage city assembly’

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Announcement: True Diversity Dinner!

September 14, 2009

cropped-true-diversity-header3

September is our Mayor’s Diversity Month and September 25th is the Diversity Awards banquet at the Hilton in downtown Anchorage. Unfortunately, Mayor Sullivan is uncomfortable with the term “diversity” and has changed the name to the “Unity” Awards Banquet and celebration. The mayor has stated publicly that he does not celebrate the ways in which we are all different, but rather, the ways in which we are the same.

Some of us do not feel celebrated at all, and are organizing a true diversity celebration on the same night. We have rented the Snow Goose (September 25th, doors will open at 7pm and festivities begin at 7:30pm). We wish it to be as diverse and multi-cultural as possible and much more fun than whatever will occur at the Hilton. And while the “Unity” Dinner will feature a silent auction and cost the small price of $60 a ticket… Ours will be only $10 (just to cover costs) and is quickly filling up with local performers, an awards ceremony, and speakers including Assemblywoman Elvi Gray-Jackson, Diane Benson, and Shannyn Moore!

It will be a great night, after what has been a rough summer for many in our Alaskan family.

Now we need you to figure out who gets the awards! Nominations begin now! Head over to the event website and check out the voting page! This is your event, Anchorage. Have your say! So tell your friends! Spread this around! And we’ll see you on the 25th!

Advance tickets are now available for sale at Borders Books & Music!

(Cash or check only; Sorry, due to short notice)

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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

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Calling Eagle River! Operator?

July 24, 2009

[Reposted from Alaska Commons]

Anyone from Section 2 (Eagle River, Chugiak) who supports Anchorage Ordinance 64, it is imperative that you get in contact with me ASAP. PLEASE! And if you know anyone in the neighborhood who supports equality and wants to see equal protection extended to our LGBT community, this is the time to speak up.

Please email John!

You have no idea how important it might end up being, and if it does end up as important as it may conceivably be, you will in fact try to kick yourself in the head if you stay silent. And now, enjoy these photos from Mel, taken at the last meeting.

We made a lot of new friends.
We made a lot of new friends.
Activist trendsetters.

Activist trendsetters.

"This isn't going well, is it?"

"This isn't going well, is it?"

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Isn’t There an Ice Floe Somewhere That Needs a Homophobic Preacher? [MUDFLATS]

June 4, 2009

mudflatsfirstpic[Originally Posted on Mudflats, used with Permission]

If there is such an ice floe, I know plenty of people who would gladly escort Jerry Prevo on to it, and ceremoniously shove him off the shore with their foot to a destination far far away…or perhaps to no destination at all.   Prevo, of the Anchorage Baptist Temple has been a notorious opponent of civil rights for the LGBT community in the past, and he shows no signs whatsoever of intellectual or moral evolution.  He does, however, continue to throw stones, embrace divisiveness, and can now take credit for this:

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Is this a joke?  It looks like one, but alas, no.  There’s even a nice link to donate money.  So, while thoughts of men in dresses invading the public bathrooms frequented by your wives and daughters dance through your head; or you are kept awake at night by images of being forced to hire a sales team of gender non-specific humans who run you out of business …there is hope.  You can click that link and make a deposit right into the coffers of the Anchorage Baptist Temple.  Only your money will keep the city safe from THEM. You know…..(whispers) the ho-mo-sexuals! The price of safety can be paid right from your bank account to God’s open hand via Paypal.

I would like to believe that the majority of people in my city are better than this.  I would like to believe that most Anchorage residents allow their lives to be guided by something greater than fear.  I wish it were true that someone claiming to speak for Jesus wasn’t using his considerable influence to make people dislike each other, and judge each other, and fear each other.  Who Would Jesus Fire?  To whom would he deny housing?

Of course one of the things that Prevo forgets to tell you is that there is already a ban on discrimination for sexual orientation in public sector employment in Alaska.  Another thing they don’t tell you is that currently twenty states, the District of Columbia, and more than 140 counties and cities have legislation on the books banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.  Those states include such hot-beds of liberal decadence and mortal sin as Iowa, Indiana, Colorado, and Wisconsin (which was the first state to ban discrimination of this kind in 1982).

Prevo sent out an 8 page bulk fax on May 15, which began “Dear Community Leader.”  It went on in some detail to describe what “sexual orientation” really means, and how adopting it as part of a non-discrimination policy would mean the downfall of life as we know it in business, church life, restroom usage, charitable organizations, and schools.  Yes, schools.  Even our children will not be safe from guys in pumps and women using the men’s room.  The fax even asks the panicked question, in bold and all caps:

“WHAT WILL ADDING “SEXUAL ORIENTATION” DO TO THE ANCHORAGE SCHOOL BOARD’S ABILITY TO HAVE SOME STANDARDS OF CONDUCT AND DRESS OF TEACHERS AND STUDENTS?????”

Five question marks?  They must really want to know the answer to this one.  As a matter of fact, this question has caused many fearful Prevo followers to contact members of the school board and school district to demand some answers. Want to know how this ordinance will affect our kids?  Here’s part of the Anchorage School Board Update dated May 28, from Board member Jeff Friedman. (Emphasis is mine)

School Board Update May 28, 2009

The Municipal Assembly is considering a change to the Equal Rights ordinance to include sexual orientation as a protected class.  Whether it should adopt that change is a policy question for the Assembly to decide.  I am writing about this only because some people have raised a concern that this proposed change would have a large impact on the School District.  In my opinion, it would have no impact at all.  Eight years ago, the School Board added “sexual orientation” to its harassment/non-discrimination policy. Board Policy 114 (c).  Since we already have this policy in place, people do not need to be concerned about how the Assembly’s action might impact the school district.

Yes, this anti-discrimination policy has already been in place in the school district for eight years. So, is it possible that Mr. Prevo didn’t know this?  Unlikely.  But whether he knew or didn’t know is irrelevant, because Mr. Prevo is not in the business of peddling facts.  He is in the business of peddling fear.  Unfortunately,  people seem to want what he has to sell, and they are literally paying him for it.  The more frightened they are, the more money he makes.

What about Prevo’s and others’ religious beliefs?

Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska, helped write the proposal. He said it contains a provision that allows organizations such as the Baptist Temple to legally refuse to hire people because their sexual preference conflicts with religious beliefs.

“It’s unfortunate when organizations want to muddy the water and misrepresent what an actual ordinance does or says,” Mittman said. “People should go to the ordinance themselves and read it.”

The Anchorage Assembly is holding a public hearing to discuss this issue on June 9.  So far, Assembly members have heard more from those who are afraid than those who are not.  Fear is a good motivator.  It’s one of the best.  My hope is that love can be a better motivator.  And if not love, then social justice.  And if not that, then a sense of fair play.  Or the desire that this community not be run roughshod over by people who think it’s OK to discriminate against their fellow human beings in the name of God.

This is not an issue of men wearing heels.   This is a civil rights issue, and those who seek to defeat it are doing so at the expense of a healthy community that protects all of its citizens.  Don’t let them.