Current Affairs

Alaskan mayor vetoes gay discrimination protections

Jessica Geen August 18, 2009
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The mayor of Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, has vetoed a measure giving discrimination protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans people.

Mayor Dan Sullivan said there was not enough evidence to show the measure was necessary.

In a statement sent to reporters, last night, he said: “My review shows that there is clearly a lack of quantifiable evidence necessitating this ordinance.

“My review also shows that the vast majority of those who communicated their position on the ordinance are in opposition.”

Last week, the Anchorage Assembly passed the ordinance 7-4. It can override Sullivan’s veto but needs eight votes to do so.

Weeks of intense public hearings have been held into the issue, with those who have suffered homophobic discrimination describing the effects it had on them.

Two Assembly members, Matt Claman and Patrick Flynn, are fighting for the anti-discrimination provision.

Flynn, who authored the measure, told the Anchorage Daily News: “I’m disappointed, primarily for the several thousand Anchorage residents who are disenfranchised by his decision.

Equality Works, an Alaska coalition of rights groups, has expressed its disappointment at Sullivan’s decision.

Spokeswoman Jackie Buckley said: “It’s a shame that the mayor has decided to exclude LGBT people from the city’s promise of ‘equal opportunity for all persons’.

“We will continue to work towards an Anchorage that guarantees residents will be judged on their ability to contribute to and participate in the economy and community, and their qualifications to be tenants, homeowners or patrons. We all deserve equal access to employment, housing, and public accommodations.

“The ordinance passed by the Assembly, after hours of testimony clearly documenting the need for these protections, is good for business, and would ensure that Anchorage can continue to attract and retain the best employees and customers. The Mayor’s actions are a step backwards.”

Although the ordinance specifically cites sexual orientation, it includes gender identity and gender expression within this definition.

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