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Gay politician in Alaska overcomes homophobic smears to get elected

Nick Duffy April 6, 2017

Felix Rivera

Two openly gay officials have been elected in Anchorage, Alaska.

The two progressive candidates, Felix Rivera and Christopher Constant, both separately won races for spots on Anchorage Assembly – becoming the only openly LGBT elected officials in Alaska.

Mr Rivera won with 47 percent of the vote despite a crowded field and one of his opponents sending homophobic mailers the weekend before the election.

His opponent, Don Smith, had unleashed a bigotry-filled mailer over the weekend that says Felix’s agenda “revolves around inflicting his moral and religious ideology onto your family” – a clear attack on Mr River’s sexual orientation.

The attack leaflet also alleged that Mr Rivers wants to “release rapists and murderers into society.”

Mr Rivera’s victory makes him the first openly LGBTQ Latino person to win an election in Alaska.

He said: “Our victory last night was decisive: we sent a clear message that our city is moving forward, and voters support a positive vision of what this place can be, rather than divisive and alienating rhetoric.

“Voters made it clear last night that they want to see an Assembly focused on the real policy issues that matter to Anchorage residents, and not get distracted by what divides us. Last night, we moved forward.”

Meanwhile, Christopher Constant, a long-serving LGBTQ activist in Alaska, faced five opponents and won with 52 percent of the vote.

Both were supported by the Victory Fund, a PAC which is dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBT public officials in US political life.

Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills said: “These historic wins in Anchorage will reverberate throughout the entire state of Alaska.

“There are currently zero LGBTQ elected officials serving in all of Alaska – so Felix and Christopher will be much needed voices when they take office.

“We know that representation is power – and that LGBTQ elected officials humanize our lives and change political and policy debates. The wins for Felix and Christopher will lead to more inclusive legislation that benefits all residents of Anchorage.”

Alaska is best known politically as the home of homophobic Republican ex-Governor Sarah Palin.

A strong opponent of LGBT rights, she spoke in 2014 at the conference of a listed hate group that has compared same-sex marriage to the Holocaust – and got the address of the White House wrong during her speech.

In 2013, Palin admitted to defending a homophobic rant made by anti-gay Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson without actually reading his comments.

More: Alaska, Anti-gay, Felix Rivera, homophobic, LGBT, US

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