By a 7-4 vote, the Anchorage Assembly approved an ordinance banning discrimination in that city on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, The Anchorage Daily News reported on Tuesday, August 11 2009. The vote capped two months of public meetings on a so-called “controversial issue that has engaged the community for a generation.” The Assembly itself debated for most of an hour that day, displaying emotion and passion not often seen in the chambers.
The majority fell one vote short of reaching the 8-vote super-majority needed to override a mayoral veto. Mayor Dan Sullivan said before the vote he had not decided if he would take that step. He had seven days to decide.
Photo of assemblyman and equality foe Bill Starr during LGBT rights ordinance hearings July 21, 2009
Assembly members Chris Birch and Bill Starr said they weren’t convinced that discrimination against gays and lesbians is a problem in Anchorage. "I don't see signs that say, 'No Gays Allowed,' " Starr said. "We have a tolerant and diverse community that generally gets along," he said.
Photo of activist Jackie Buckley testifying in favor of gay rights ordinance 7-21-09
After the vote, Jackie Buckley, an organizer for Equality Works, a group that pushed for passage, said she was "very glad that the Assembly has seen there is a problem" that needed to be addressed. "It was a clear majority," she said. "We hope the mayor will do the right thing."
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan shakes the hand of crony Sarah Palin, May 2009 photo
But yesterday, Monday, August 17, Mayor Dan Sullivan vetoed the ordinance that would’ve banned discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people in Anchorage. In a statement, Sullivan said he saw no need for the measure. "My review shows that there is clearly a lack of quantifiable evidence necessitating this ordinance," the Mayor said. "My review also shows that the vast majority of those who communicated their position on the ordinance are in opposition." I guess Alaska’s still living in the dark ages, after all. What a disappointment!
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