Alaska voters shoot down anti-transgender bathroom bill
Voters in Anchorage, Alaska, appear to have narrowly defeated an anti-transgender bill which would have blocked trans people from using their bathroom of choice.
With around 85 percent of votes counted, LGBT campaigners have reported a nearly six percent lead for the ‘No’ side, prompting celebrations.
Proposition 1, which sought to limit locker and bathroom use for transgender people to the gender listed on their birth certificate, was on the ballot because the anti-LGBT Alaska Family Council (AFC) gathered enough signatures.
On its website, the AFC states that marriage “requires the union of one man and one woman,” adding that same-sex unions are “harmful to the development of children.”
“While the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favour of changing the definition of marriage, this debate is not over,” the group adds.
If the vote had passed, private business owners would have also been able to kick trans people out of their bathrooms and locker rooms.
As the Southern Poverty Law Centre has noted, “the current nondiscrimination law being targeted by the Alaska Family Council and its allies entitles people to use bathrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms that are ‘consistent with their gender identity.'”
In 2012, the AFC fronted a campaign against Anchorage’s Proposition 5, which would have added sexual orientation and transgender identity to the city’s civil rights code.
The AFC did so with the support of national anti-LGBT hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, a fundamentalist Christian law firm which strongly opposes discrimination protections for LGBT people and has supported baker Jack Phillips of Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop, who is attempting to undermine a state law which protects LGBT people from discrimination.
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.
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, unleashed a bigotry-filled mailer that said Rivera’s agenda “revolves around inflicting his moral and religious ideology onto your family” – what is believed to be an attack on his sexual orientation.
The attack leaflet also alleged that Rivera wants to “release rapists and murderers into society.”
In reaction to his win, Rivera 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.”
“Like so many other places in this country, we are seeing a backlash,” Kati Ward, campaign manager for the LGBT advocacy group Fair Anchorage, told The Daily Beast before the Proposition 1 vote.
See one of the pro-trans adverts which led to this result: