Anchorage Voters Reject Gay Rights Measure
A bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the anti-discrimination laws in Anchorage, Alaska, has been rejected by voters, despite an impressive effort made by gay rights supporters who raised more than $340,000 in order to pass the initiative, the New York Times reported.
Proposition 5 would have helped protect the state’s largest city’s LGBT community by including sexual orientation and gender identity to Anchorage’s anti-discrimination laws. The current laws protect individuals from discrimination based on color, race, marital status, religion and disabilities.
Earlier this week in a citywide ballot measure, the majority of Anchorage voters rejected Proposition 5. Only 42 percent of voters backed the initiative.
Gay rights activists have been trying to pass similar anti-discrimination measures for the past 35 years. The former mayor of Anchorage, George M. Sullivan, vetoed the bill more three decades ago and his son, Dan Sullivan, vetoed a similar bill three years ago.
"We have been working towards the same legal protections for 35 years. We’ve had ups and we’ve had downs, and today, we feel we’re very much on the upswing," Trevor Storrs, the spokesman for the gay rights group One Anchorage Yes on Prop 5, said. "We have crossed so many of those divides that once existed and really have shown that this is a grass-roots, 100%-supported change that Anchorage residents want."
But the recent vote has received some criticism as many polling sites ran out of ballots due to a surprisingly high amount of voters, which raised "questions about the impact of ballots filed at locations other than a voter’s intended precinct," the Times noted.
While One Anchorage raised a substantial amount of money it was reported on March 22 that the opposing organization, Protect Your Rights Vote No on Prop 5, raised less than $5,000. But the New York Times points out that the Anchorage Baptist Temple and its leader, Rev. Jerry Prevo, largely financed the group.
"It’s cheaper to fight it at the ballot box than it will be in the courts," Prevo said in an interview Tuesday.
The group, led by Jim Minnery, also put out a video ad late last month that attacked the LGBT community. The 30-second animated clip titled "Daycare" shows the owner of a daycare who is "forced to hire a transvestite." The "transvestite" who has stubble, wears a pink dress and has broad shoulders, shocked the parents of the children at the daycare.
"If she hires him, she risks losing customers," the narrator says. "And if she refuses, she can be fined or imprisoned. Anchorage is already a tolerant city, vote no on Proposition 5."
"Such distorted cartoons have been used over and over again in history to dehumanize groups," Storrs told the media.
Alaska currently does not recognize marriage equality or any other kind of legal unions nor does it have any hate crime laws that protect the LGBT community.