Posts Tagged ‘Floridana Alaskiana’

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The Time Has Come…

October 16, 2009

The time has come, the blogger said, to speak of lots of stuff

Of how since ’64 is dead, relevancy has been tough

So now we’ll merge this site with his, join the alaskacommons crew

And hopefully have a bit more time to make a difference for you.

Unity for the Anchorage Community

Unity for the Anchorage Community

So I’m not a poet, I’m a blogger, and a neglectful one at that.  SOSanchorage.net is going to be merging with alaskacommons.com, and here’s why it’s a good thing:

  • The battle for the Equal Rights ordinance may be over for now, but simplifying the blogging process will allow more time to work on real-life projects that will further the cause.
  • Merging the two blogs will allow for more frequent updates, instead of simply re-posting things on either site.
  • We feel like we’ll be able to write more relevant articles for the community if we broaden our scope a bit.

I’m hoping that if there are still any readers left (I know it’s been a few weeks since the last post) you’ll follow us over to The Alaska Commons, where we will continue to try to keep the community updated on events and issues of note.  Don’t worry, every post on this blog will be moving to alaskacommons as well, so if you’re interested in reading up on our perspective on the Summer of ’64 you’ll still be able to do so.

I’ve been glad to be a part of this.  It’s one of the things I’m most proud of.

Thank you.

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Join us if you can

September 25, 2009
Join us at the Snow Goose for a shindig!

Join us at the Snow Goose for a shindig!

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One small step

August 11, 2009

Ordinance 64 (S2), the Equal Rights ordinance, passed today.  7-4.

Let that soft, floaty happy feeling encompass you.  Stay there for a bit.  I can wait.

From Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

From Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

Did you enjoy that?  I know I did.  I have bad news, though.  It’s not over, not by a long shot.  We have to work now, and we have to work like never before.  We have to call Mayor Sullivan.  We need to call him now, and we need to call him frequently.

Contact Mayor Sullivan.  Tell him not to veto Ordinance 64.

Contact Mayor Sullivan. Tell him not to veto Ordinance 64.

I’m now going to ask more of you than I ever have.  Some of you won’t do it, I know it and that’s fine.  This is only a blog, after all.  But I know that some of you will, so please listen.  I need you to call Dan Sullivan’s office.  The number (343-7101) is for his Executive Assistant, Betty Fauber.  Be respectful, but assertive.  Say that you want to leave a message for Mayor Sullivan.  You may leave any message you wish, but please emphasize that you do not want him to veto Ordinance 64.  It is imperative that Mayor Sullivan hears this message, and that he hears it often.

I know that you probably have a lot of things to do throughout the next few days, but this won’t take a long time, I promise.  Take the number 343-7101 and add it into your cell phone if you have one.  Tomorrow, Thursday, and throughout the next week, try to call a few times a day.  Just call, leave a message, and then go about your day.  It shouldn’t use up but a few of your minutes, and you’ll be doing something invaluably helpful.  You’ll be letting the Mayor know that we care about what decision he makes.

We don’t want the hard-deliberated decision that the Assembly has come to to be overturned.  They listened to over twenty-five hours of testimony.  They didn’t come to their decision lightly, and the Mayor needs to respect that.  I need to you to do this for me.

The second thing I need you to do is to send Mayor Sullivan an email. This might be easier for you, some people don’t like to call strangers on the phone.  I can understand that.  Just send him an email tomorrow, maybe two emails, or you could send lots.  Let him know how you feel about this decision.  Tell him about the happy floaty feeling if you want.  Just tell him to let the decision stand.

If you have the time and energy after that, please tell the Assembly “thank you.” Whether they voted for us or not, they have dealt with this issue in an incredibly respectful way and that needs to be acknowledged by their constituents.  It may seem like a small gesture to you, but I assure you it will mean a great deal to them.

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Let the circus begin!

July 21, 2009
From Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

From Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

John and I will be at the Loussac Library pretty soon.  Reports are that the testimonies won’t start to be heard until 7pm, but it is still very important for supporters of the Equal Rights ordinance to show up early and get a seat inside the Assembly Hall.  We need to be able to add our support to those brave enough to go up and speak.  Get there early if you can, but if you can’ t make it inside, there are still plenty of things you can do to help outside the library.  Bring some markers and and poster board and wave your signs with pride.

We also have a surprise for our friends.  If you see us, don’t be shy, ask if we have any left.

I hope to see you there.

5:30pm

The meeting has started, but there are still so many empty seats!  Apparently there are hardly any people outside, either.  The Assembly has announced that they will likely start hearing testimonies after 7:00pm.  If you wanted a chance to speak to the Assembly, today seems like a good day to try.

Keep checking back for more updates.

6:30pm

We’re still listening to the usual business.  The room has filled up a bit more, but there are still many open seats available.  Nothing eventful thus far, other than some heartfelt recognition given to retiring city employees, and a touching memorial given for former Assemnblyman Teshe, who died recently after open-heart surgery in Texas.  His daughter accepted their words on behalf of Mr. Teshe’s family.

7:35pm

They’re now discussing possible changes to the food code.  The man’s arguments seem sound.  This is the last item on the agenda before the Assembly starts to hear testimonies.

The surprise, free t-shirts, went over very well.  Hopefully we’ll have them available in a more professional capacity in a new online store very soon.

Assemblyperson Gutierrez is making comments on the proceedings through his facebook page.  Always entertaining.

8:00pm

A very well-spoken man, who is a school psychologist, is explaing that the APA has data supporting that Gay and Lesbian people are just as well-adjusted as heterosexual people.  He’s saying it much better than I am, but it’s a nice start to the evening’s testimonies.

8:02pm

According to the man speaking, we should not try to go outside of God’s design, and how he designed the human body.  I’m assuming that given the option, he would refuse to have any medical surgeries, as that would interrupt the design that God had determined for his body.

8:06pm

We’ve been informed that “‘unlike other religions, the Judeo-Christian religion does not force its beliefs and practices onto others.”  She must have missed the part in history class about the Crusades.

8:11pm

I just got my name on the list.  Number 647!

8:17pm

There are a lot of people coming up who missed their turn.  The man speaking now is explaining what a Christian is through a job application analogy.  A rather convoluted analogy, to be honest.  You apply by accepting the lord Jesus into your heart.  And then there is a 90-day probation.  Or 70 year probation.  “I hope in each of your cases, if you claim to be a Christian, you take a close look at your instruction manuals when it comes time to vote on this ordinance.”

8:22pm

The lady speaking now speaks for freedom, as well as speaking against the ordinance.  She has not witnessed any discrimination, and loves all people of all races and religions.  It is a Christian’s duty to love one another.  She may be missing her own point.

8:26pm

Amber, a resident advisor at UAA, is talking about how tax dollars were spent to train her on how to deal with issues of descrimination.  She asks, if this ordinance isn’t necessary, why was so much time and money spent to train her how deal with these situations.  She made many good points.  Thank you, Amber!

8:41pm

Assemblyman Coffey is not even pretending to pay attention to what people are saying.  Apparently his book, or magazine or whatever it is is a bit too engrossing.

8:48pm

Lynn supports this ordinance, and just sang “Jesus loves me” to the Assembly.  People from the audience quietly joined in.  It was sweet.

8:53pm

It amuses me that people keep threatening the Assembly with damnation and losing their positions on the Assembly.  Threats to the people you’re trying to sway seems somewhat counterproductive.

8:59pm

Tiffany is up speaking now.  She points out that 108 cities have statutes protecting LGBT citizens.  She argues that there was a great outcry after Brown vs. Board of Education that forced integration challenged their rights as Christians to keep the races separate.  She thinks that much of the outcry against the ordinance is very similar in tone.  She argues that for one side to win, that doesn’t mean the other side has to lose.  She points  out that white people are still here, which means that the world won’t end when one group is given equal protections under the law.

9:18pm

Chairwoman Ossiander has put out a plea to submit testimony through phone calls and email.  We’re wearing them out.  Frankly, I agree with her, which is why I’ve now crossed my name off of the list.  These people are very patient.

9:21pm

The man speaking thinks that the Assembly shouldn’t be concerned with food codes, they should be concerned about AIDS, and encouraging the lifestyle that breeds AIDS.  The majority of his speech, however, was dedicated to TV and movie commentary.  He doesn’t like seeing sex and violence on TV, but recommends that everyone watch Ma and Pa Kettle Go to the County Fair, apparently a rip-roaring good time.  He believes the internet is the most dangerous thing you can have in your house.  His last comment “I am a Christian.”

9:56pm

The lady speaking just called being Christian a “lifestyle.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Religion is a form of lifestyle that is protected under Anchorage’s anti-discrimination laws.  Why can’t my friend’s lifestyle have the same protections?

9:58pm

The lady speaking right now: “Being a lesbian is who I am.  If I were celebate for the rest of my life, I would still be a lesbian…I believe in religious freedom, but not in forcing those beliefs on others. ”

10:31pm

My kind friend, Rachael, has lent me her laptop so I can continue to live-blog.  Rachael is awesome.  I declare it to be so.

10:38pm

I disobeyed Chairwoman Ossiander and giggled at the last lady who spoke.  She stated that the APA said that necrophilia and bestiality would be made legal by passing this ordinance.  I couldn’t help it, she was very serious.

10:47pm

And I’m back on the list to speak.

10:56pm

Brittany Goodnight is up speaking about the “red” message and the “blue” message.  It’s very clear to her that the red message is “hatred and descrimination is alive and well.”  She says that what the significant thing that the Assembly can do is to pass the ordinance so that all of their constituents have equal protection under the law.   The red message only works to affirm the blue.

We are very close to finishing the list.  They are voting on completing the list now.

11:12pm

I went up and spoke.  I flubbed my lines, but I got my point across.  I don’t know if I’ve ever been so nervous in my life.

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We the future of Alaska, in Solidarity

July 20, 2009
[Reprinted from my husband’s site, Alaska Commons.  Now it’s my turn to be proud.  Your eloquence humbles me at every turn.]
Loussac Library

Loussac Library

Tomorrow is round six of the public hearings surrounding proposed Ordinance 64, which would extend equal rights protection, in cases of discrimination in the workplace, housing, and credit, to the LGBT in the municipality of Anchorage, Alaska.

Alaska Commons will be live blogging, provided I make it into the Assembly chambers, as will my wife, Heather, over on SOSAnchorage.net, and I’m guessing we’ll be joined by the multitude of other usual suspects; MudflatsShannyn Moore,HenkimaaCeltic DivaImmoral Minority, and more (check my links to the right for additional sites)

I’ve heard and learned a staggering amount during these hearings. Some words have left me in absolute awe of the intelligence, bravery, and perseverance on display. Other words are harder to drink away.

During our time in chambers, those in attendance have heard from our friends, family, and neighbors. We have heard Alaskan legal opinions,  medical opinions, the One In Ten and Identity Reports conducted in the 80’s and presented to this Assembly by one of the reports’ authors, Mel Green of Henkimaa. We’ve heard from our own Equal Rights Commission. We even heard from Vic Fischer, who helped write our state constitution, as a delegate of the Alaska Constitutional Convention. All offered their unwavering support in the pursuit of equality.

Many don’t view this ambitious catalog of participants as evidence painting an urgent need for this ithinkthereforiamlegislation, nor do they recognize it as grounds for legal precedent. Some view it as utterly obsolete, simply because Jerry Prevo says so. Some people speaking before the assembly, as well as from the Reverend himself, preaching from the pulpit of the Anchorage Baptist Temple, have challenged that religious institutions should be exempt from codes dictating tolerance on matter of “sexual behavior,” ignoring the reality that this ordinance does no such thing. It offers protection regarding sexual orientation. They are two separate issues; Sexual behavior is a choice to proceed in a manner reflective of your morals. Sexual orientation is a core part of who you are. Who we all are, no matter if you choose to thump a bible or a bed stand; indifferent to which bible you thump, or which gender attracts your gaze.

There are those who have claimed that this violates the First Amendment, which affords all citizens of the United States our most intrinsic freedoms. However, this specific translation of the United States Constitution is as narrow as the interpretations of the Bible that these men and women subscribe to, and equally as devoid of context and intent. Our First Amendment clearly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or the prohibiting free exercise thereof.”Free exercise is explicitly different than free reign, and this Amendment was carefully designed to offer protection both for and from religion and its often conflicting interpretations, written by framers (largely deists) who in no way wished to write into law a narrative where they were actors in an American theocracy. Glenn Beck can tea-bag himself until he’s blue in the face and the cows come home. He still can’t change that fact.

For now, the fate of Ordinance 64 rests with the Assembly. We need to keep showing up, and keep reminding the Assembly that we won’t go away. The filibuster put in place by certain shadows of organized religion in our society (what Shannyn Moore has dubbed X-ians), has lasted long enough to usher in a new Mayor, and regardless of how these Assembly proceedings pan out, will most likely result in a ballot measure for the public to vote on. But if we are unsuccessful in passing this ordinance, it will remove us from having an established precedent to base future attempts on. And, this legislation is absolutely still on the table and a risky choice, for the elected Assembly members, between constituents (long thought to be a minority) who fight for a better future within the Anchorage community, and crusaders (the alleged majority) who, in the case of one local church, the Northern Lights Baptist Temple, clearly state in their charter that religious law supercedes state and federal law, declaring a “sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origins.” Being above the law is granting special rights; granting equality is upholding civil rights.

Courtesy of Floridana Alaskiana v2.5 (and congrats!!)

Courtesy of Floridana Alaskiana v2.5 (and congrats!!)

Tomorrow, the struggle continues, and along with it all the sideshow highlights: the busing in from the valley, the faux-grass roots, mass produced, carbon copy signs delivered in a single red pick up truck, and the convenient childcare service that will, no doubt, form again outside on the lawn; equality opponents dropping their impressionable children off, who are forced to represent an inherited ideology independent of personal growth and development, to display messages of hate while Mom and Dad attend the meeting.

Inside, we have heard testimony that has cut deep into our LGBT community.

One sentiment that has profoundly struck me is the passionate debate regarding differences between this and other civil rights movements. On a personal note, I make a concentrated effort to keep the different movements separated. The Civil Rights Movement was its own struggle, as was the Womens Rights Movement. But, this is a civil rights issue of its own, and shouldn’t be dismissed as anything less. And to those who ask: “where are the fire hoses and where are the police dogs?” With all due respect, I would humbly submit in return: Is that what you need to see before you react?

I had trouble not reacting to a nurse, who offered testimony asserting that sexual orientation is social engineering on par with Nuremberg and the Tuskegee experiments. I had trouble with a dentist’s sudden outburst, saying “I don’t want gay folks putting their fingers in my mouth!” (That one really conflicted with my entire concept of modern dentistry, and caused panic that a proctologist might be next in line to speak) One gentleman boasted about having to be restrained after assaulting a gay man who, many would argue, just paid him a compliment (Would he have beaten a woman who hit on him too, if he didn’t find her satisfactory?). Possibly most audacious was hearing a terminal AIDS patient described as a “cesspool of life,” while in a similar description wee heard the disease (which has no sexual orientation or preference) defined as a complication due to a lifestyle. Abomination. Perversion. Deviance. And there’s been some talk about the fate of our restrooms, too.

Hate, in no way, results in the betterment of a society. And we are foolish if we pretend that Anchorage is somehow immune.

The vicious and twisted accusations put on display for this Assembly are followed up, often in the same breath, with the position that this is rushed legislation, and that we would be better served by an exploratory committee, and an issued report based on its findings. I would posit that any of us, including those who serve us on the Assembly, who have sat in these chambers over the past handful of meetings, or watched from home, our out in the lobby, have represented and effectively participated in such a committee. You can read the findings in the ADN, Anchorage Press, the Northern Light, Mudflats, Shannyn Moore, Celtic Diva, Henkimaa, Progressive Alaska, Immoral Minority, among countless others. We’ve explored every ugly side of this issue, both in fact, fiction, and deranged fantasy. And that all important report has already been filed. Through hearing this public testimony, we, as citizens have been shown, beyond a shadow of doubt, the dire necessity of equal rights legislation.

And we need to show the Assembly, Mayor Sullivan, our members of the state legislature, Senators Murkowski and Begich, Representative Young, incoming-Governor Parnell, the media, and each other, that we won’t go away.

See you all tomorrow.

-john

Courtesy of Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

Courtesy of Floridana Alaskiana v2.5


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Most recent meeting wrap-up

July 8, 2009

Hey folks!  John and I weren’t able to make it to the meeting today as we were busy doing a mad dash to get back from our honeymoon, but here are some great articles that can give you an overview of what happened:

From Bent Alaska – Ordinance Hearing #5: Equality Rally and Town Hall, Today at the Library

From the Mudflats – Ordinance 64 Public Testimony – Live Blog

From the Anchorage Daily News – Assembly hears another round of gay rights testimony

I’ll keep an eye out for more posts as they come up, so keep checking back.  Also, feel free to send in any links if you come across anything.

Also, I thought I’d just link this as it brightened my day:

Voted “best couple” by their senior class at a South Bronx high school, out new graduates Victoria Cruz and Deoine Scott made history and helped to change attitudes.

Update:

Janson from Floridana Alaskiana has posted several articles and beautiful photographs of the most recent Assembly meeting.  Please check them out if you get a chance:

Obama and Hitler, oh my…

Ordinance 64 Continues, 07 July 2009 – Part 01

Ordinance 64 Continues, 07 July 2009 – Part 02

Ordinance 64 Continues, 07 July 2009 – Part 03

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Moments from the Tuesday meeting

June 24, 2009

My fiance and I weren’t able to stay for the whole meeting today, but we were able to bookend it by showing up before the Assembly Hall openned up, and were able to come back for the end.  If you would like an account of what went on during the meeting, check out the Mudflats commentary.

Here are some memories from today:

  • There were two nice ladies dressed in yellow that were handing out lemonade and yellow flyers that were entitled “Lets Take Those Lemons And Make Some Lemonade!” They were collecting donations for Brother Francis Homeless Shelter, AWAIC, Food Bank, and Covenant House.
  • Someone left a metal water bottle outside the entrance to the lobby, and we witnessed two police officers walk up to it and ask the surrounding people if it belonged to them.  We answered in the negative, so the first cop picked up the bottle and jokingly put it to his ear.  He announced to the second cop  “No ticking.”  Everyone laughed.  He then opened the bottle facing away from him, and then both cops looked into it expectantly.  Alas, only water.
  • We met some new friends and walked around outside, laughing at some of the signs and their holders.  As we drove away, there was a young man standing by the STOP sign leading out to 36th.  His sign said “HONK IF YOU’RE STRAGHT!”  I opened the window and told him that his sign was missing an “I”, and he told me that he had been previously informed of that.  Then he asked us to honk.  I shook my head as I rolled up the window as he shouted “come on, why not?”.  I think his slightly endearing desperation is a good example of how the opposition seems to be headed.  Except for the endearing  part.

As we spoke to some of the other supporters who had been outside waving signs, we saw a young woman wearing a delicate cross on her neck speaking earnestly to two other young blue-team members.  I think that one of the best things to come out of this whole ordeal is the discussions that are going on around the Assembly Hall.  I think that most of the Assemblymembers had made up their minds on this issue before they even started hearing testimonies.  But I’ve seen more than a few conversations between supporters and opposers of this ordinance calmly discussing the subject.

One person mentioned to me that while in conversation with an opposing pastor, he talked about the discrimination and harrassment that he had suffered at his job.  The pastor was visably affected by this story, and wondered aloud that he sometimes wondered why he was opposing this ordinance.  These discussions lead to personal connections and a challenging of long-held beliefs, which can only make the larger Anchorage community stronger.

From what I saw inside the Assembly Hall and auxiliary room, there was a distinct lack of connectedness.  It made me sad.

Let me end this on a more positive note:

Courtesy of Floridana Alaskiana v2.5

Courtesy of Floridana Alaskiana v2.5