Monday, February 06, 2012

Anchorage Has Another Chance to Move Out of Dark Ages

I was reminded how far behind we are in Anchorage by a story in today's LA Times.  It lists six states debating the legalization of gay marriage.  And six more states, plus the District of Columbia, where same sex marriage is legal.

But in Anchorage we're still struggling to get a law making it illegal to discriminate against gays in housing and employment and other such situations.  We would have such guarantees already had our current mayor not vetoes an ordinance passed by our Assembly just before he became mayor.

But there is a proposition on the ballot and a chance to show the world that the voters of Anchorage are not as intolerant and narrow minded as some of our politicians.

Why does this matter?  As OneAnchorage, the group behind the initiative, posts:
In Anchorage, all employees should be judged solely on their capabilities and job performance. Today, however, most – but not all – hardworking Alaskans are protected from being unfairly fired. For example, no one can be fired from a job solely because they are married or single. It is illegal to refuse to interview a job applicant because the business owner doesn’t like Christians, Jews or Muslims. You can’t be denied service in a restaurant because you’re African-American, Asian, from South America or Alaska Native. You can’t be turned down for a credit card or bank loan because you’re sight or hearing impaired.
However, these legal protections that most of us rely on everyday do NOT protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender workers.

But even when this initiative is passed in April, we still have a one man - one woman marriage clause that was added to our state constitution in 1998.

When I say far behind, I mean it in the way that people in the South were far behind other parts of the US when they still had legal segregation whereas Blacks had legal (if not de facto) equal rights in other parts of the country.  As behind as those people who opposed voting for women and then other rights for women.  One form of human progress is the gradual elimination of the legal props that support social prejudices against people who are different from the majority, props that give 'normal' people power over the 'other.'

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