The ugly battle for local LGBT protections in Alaska’s largest city has been going on for years. Today we get news of another attempt, this time with apparently broad carve-outs for religious beliefs. Via Alaska Dispatch News:
Anchorage Assembly member Bill Evans has introduced a local ordinance to expand protections under they city’s equal rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Evans’ measure, rekindling a debate that has polarized the community in the past, was contained in a draft copy provided Thursday to Alaska Dispatch News. The ordinance would make it illegal in Anchorage to discriminate against any person based on sexual orientation or gender in employment, public accommodations and housing. But unlike similar legislation in the past, Evans’ measure also includes religious-based exemptions for individuals and institutions. Some socially conservative religious leaders have objected to previous efforts to expand equal rights protections to gays, lesbians and transgendered people, though other churches and synagogues actively supported those measures without a religious exemption.
Evans, a Republican, describes himself as one the more conservative members of the Anchorage Assembly, so it’s possible that his bill is meant to preempt a bill without religious loopholes. We’ll have to see if local LGBT groups endorse this bill.
PREVIOUSLY ON JMG: Over the screams of local haters, the Anchorage Assembly first approved a broad LGBT rights bill in August 2009, but it was vetoed days later by then-Mayor Dan Sullivan, who just left office last month. The Assembly then declined to attempt to override the mayor’s veto. Late in 2011 activists managed to qualify a new LGBT rights bill for a public referendum, sending the local Catholic Church, NOM, and Alliance Defending Freedom into overdrive with nasty websites and a truly foul anti-trans video campaign. In April 2012 the referendum failed by a 58-42 margin after local Christian groups pulled a dirty trick regarding voter registration. Despite loud calls for a voter fraud investigation, including claims by the ACLU that anti-gay groups had encouraged non-Anchorage residents to vote, the Assembly voted against any formal inquiry.
Here are the anti-trans ads from 2012.