Juneau Highway Cleanup with Rainbow Pride

For over a decade, there have been two "PFLAG Adopt-A-Highway" signs on the Juneau public road system near Auke Bay. The signs have been vandalized and replaced more than once, but both signs can still be seen by every driver on that scenic 2 mile stretch of the Egan Highway. 

PFLAG Juneau and SEAGLA need your help to fulfill their biannual cleanup duty on Saturday, May 2, from 10-noon.

Volunteers will meet at the Auke Lake parking lot. Bright yellow trash bags and sanitary gloves will be provided, along with free cookies for the cleanup crew. 

"Please wear very bright colored clothing," write Bronze of SEAGLA and Lin of PFLAG. "We want you to be safe while working near the highway, and we also want to show a very bright rainbow of colors on the road Saturday morning."

Dine Out, Fight AIDS in Fairbanks

Dining Out For Life, a national event to raise money for HIV & AIDS organizations by eating at participating restaurants, takes place throughout the day on Thursday April 30 in Fairbanks and many other cities. The Fairbanks restaurants will donate a portion of their profits to Interior AIDS Association.

Participating restaurants include Lu Lu's Bread & Bagels for breakfast, Ivory Jacks for lunch (11-5), Regency Cove for lunch, Trappers Tavern for lunch, and Lavelle's Bistro for dinner (reservations recommended.)

Dining Out For Life - Fairbanks is sponsored by Denali State Bank and Interior Graphics & Printing. The national "Dining Out For Life: Dine Out, Fight AIDS" annual event is sponsored by Subaru.

Over 50 cities throughout the United States and Canada and more than 3,000 restaurants are participating in Dining Out For Life this year. Nearly $3 million dollars is raised annually to support AIDS service organizations throughout North America.

Read the News-Miner's article and interview with IAA executive director Anna Nelson.

Watch the Dining Out For Life PSA with the Food Network's Ted Allen:

Femme Fatale returns to Juneau

The Drag Queens are Back! The Anchorage divas will perform in Juneau on Friday and Saturday, May 1 & 2, for two unique performances of Femme Fatale, the annual Juneau show to raise money for Four A's. The Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association (Four A's) provides AIDS prevention, education, and client services.

The Femme Fatale 2009 performers include Rosie Rotton, Kristara, Jovi, Mariquita, and Ashley.

Femme Fatale has been a tradition in Juneau for almost twenty years. Mikey LaChoy, Emperor 25 of the Imperial Court of All Alaska (ICOAA) is the coordinator of Femme Fatale. 

This year's show follows an unusually tense legislative session. Last year, the show raised nearly $3,000 for Four A's, despite the lack of electricity during Juneau's energy crisis.

Tickets for Femme Fatale are available at Four A's-Southeast (174 South Franklin Street, #207), Marlintini's, The Rendezvous, or UAS. The cost is $15 per show.

Femme Fatale: Friday, May 1, 8 p.m. at the Rendezvous, and Saturday, May 2, 9 p.m. at Marlintini's.

Gay AK: Facebook, Four A's, and Thanking our Allies against WAR

Bent on Facebook
Join the party and connect with others: be friends with Bent Alaska. Many LGBT Alaskans are announcing our community's events and posting photos on Facebook pages, then sharing the links on Bent Alaska's wall. Share your links, events, photos and ideas, and meet LGBT Alaskans and our allies. Bent Alaska on Facebook.

You are also invited to subscribe to Alaska GLBT News, the free statewide e-newsletter.

Fiesta & Bake Sale raised $4,000 for Four A's
Two Four A's fundraisers were held at Mad Myrna's last weekend, the No Foolin' Fiesta and Scott's Bake Sale and Bake-Off.

"We're so happy with the results of the Four A's events these past two days," writes Chrissy Bell, Director of Development at Four A's. "Over $4,000 was raised this weekend! Thank you MJ and Scott for two awesome events and to everyone who came out to support those living with HIV and HIV prevention in Alaska."

Scott Turner wants to thank everyone associated with the Community Bake Sale. "You all raised over $2300," writes Scott. "Even in crazy economic times, we managed to beat last year's total again!"

Please thank those who voted against WAR
Many of our state senators and representatives voted against the confirmation of W.A. Ross last week. Please take a moment to thank them. Here is the full list, for and against.

One of the representatives who mentioned WAR's prejudice against gays as a reason for voting 'no' was Rep. Les Gara from downtown Anchorage. Please remember his support of our community. 

From his e-newsletter: "Good AG's don't come into the job with lists of groups they dislike. They have to get along, and make rational decisions so they don't take the state into costly "political cause" litigation. And they have to do their jobs in an even handed way. An Attorney General has to represent everyone in the state, not just his own causes. For example, while Mr. Ross is not required by anyone to hold a particular position on gay rights, he seems to dismiss gay Alaskans as equal human beings... Mr. Ross fits lots of job requirements. But his temperament is better suited for politics, party causes, and private law. In private practice you can represent a few. As the State's top lawyer you're supposed to represent all."

Read WAR's complete letter to the Alaska State Bar newsletter, where he called gays "immoral", "perversion" and "degenerates" in opposition to the 1993 effort to add sexual orientation to the Anchorage non-discrimination code.

National News: Hate Crimes, Uniting Families, and the 'trans panic' Defense

Uniting Families and Stopping Hate Crimes
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) has been re-introduced to Congress. An estimated 36,000 same sex bi-national couples in America are in danger of having one partner deported because their relationships are not recognized. UAFA will protect them from deportation the way heterosexual couples are protected. Visit Immigration Equality to read the personal stories and send letters to Congress.

The federal hate crimes bill, known as the Matthew Shepard Act, has been re-introduced as well. Watch the appeal from Judy Shepard (video below), and visit HRC's action center to send letters to members of Congress.



Defeat of the 'trans panic' defense
Allen Ray Andrade was found guilty of 1st degree murder, of a bias motivated crime, of vehicle theft and identity theft, for the killing of Angie Zapata, an 18 year old transgender Latina woman. Andrade's so-called 'trans panic' defense - that he panicked and killed her when he realized she was transgender -  did not sway the jury, and he was sentenced to life without parole.

Progress in WA and CT
Washington's Gov. Gregoire signed a transgender hate crimes bill on Wednesday, which added "gender expression or identity" to the state's hate-crime law and had bipartisan support in the legislature.  

The Washington state House and Senate also passed an expanded domestic partnership bill that grants approximately 250 additional rights and responsibilities to registered domestic partners.

The Connecticut General Assembly voted to update the state's marriage laws to conform to the recent landmark court ruling allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. The bill defines marriage in Connecticut as the legal union of two people, and transforms 'civil unions' into 'marriages'. The bill also strips language from a 1991 law that said the state does not condone "homosexuality or bisexuality or any equivalent lifestyle." Gov. Rell is expected to sign the bill. 

The ICP Ball: End of a Reign

Princess April Rains and Regent-Prince Joseph Williams will step down on Saturday night at the annual Imperial Crown Prince and Princess Ball, at Mad Myrna's in Anchorage. They were elected to the ICP positions at last year's Ball.

"The ball is 'Crowns and Gowns' and was planned by Mimi of Seattle as a traditional formal ball," writes April. "We're also doing a Valley Trash masquarade theme, so I'll bring my Iditarod gear, construction tools, hay and saddle to represent the Valley and myself."

The 2009 ICP Ball will include performances by Mary Bess Bohall, Yeager Bill, Cookie Cannon, Ms. Alaska Teen, and the drag queens from Fairbanks as a group, plus the Emperors and Empresses. Jake and Kristara will emcee. Four candidates are running, two for prince and two for princess. Imperial Court members will vote for the new titleholders, and crown them at the end of the ball.

April Rains reflected on how this one year journey as Imperial Crown Princess was the culmination of a several year process of self-discovery:
In a week, I will step down as the Imperial Crown Princess of All Alaska, and someone else will step up and begin anew. For a while now I have been regretting this event. It will signify an end to what has been evolving for me in this role, and has exploded into an incredible experience I don't want to end. A lot of what has unfolded had something, but not everything, to do with being Princess. 

For the past several weeks, I've been working like a dog Monday morning through about noon on Friday, then slipping into a skirt and lipstick until the new work week begins. In some ways, it's an escape from my reality as a male, while in other ways it's just a pure expression of myself as a multifaceted and talented person. As the years have evolved, what was once a rare Friday night outing in a skirt by myself, has become a fully intergrated part of who I am. The days of changing last minute in some out of the way bathroom are over. Now I'll leave the house mid-day for the whole world to see and I won't care. Where I was once paranoid that someone would find out where I lived or who I was 'out of face', now it seems the whole world knows. Where I was just another confused cross-dresser, now The Diva April Rains is becoming as prominent as her male counterpart.

I've walked through stores and people have complimented me, stood in front of several hundred neighbors, associates and friends as they cheered at the end of "April's Follies", spoke with folks who say awesome things about performing in the Friday Night Diva's show, and stood there humbly as Sherry Vine and Joey Arias acknowledged me during their show. These are all circumstances I never knew I'd get to experience. 

For months now, emails have come in from men in circumstances similar to mine years before, where fear, disgust, self-hatred and confusion rule their lives. They want to get out of their bedrooms and experience the real world. How do they do that? How do they talk with their wives, kids, and friends about their "secret". They are relieved to know they are not alone, but realize that it's a journey of self discovery to find who they are at the core of their being. This has little to do with being gay, straight, bi or any need to have sexual re-assignment surgery or take hormones. They have simpler questions, like what bathroom to use at a club, how to cover a beard, where to find shoes and hair, and so much more.

If anything, being the ICP presented a unique route for me to be more open and visible about who I am as a person. It took a role I thought was a "fantasy" and interjected it into dead center of reality. A role where I attended meetings for the corporation of the Court recognized as a female, but blended it with my male experiences to help make real world business decisions. A role where my male community recognition as a builder, fire fighter, dog musher, dad, and partner allowed me to meet with other local business owners and associates as a female, to garner support for a first-ever Valley fundraiser.

As the big weekend draws closer, what I felt was an end is in fact a new beginning. The end of the 16th ICP Reign will occur, as the 17th reign steps up and another very unqiuely talented and creative person hopes to make some positive changes during her reign. While my title as Her Most "Not So Sweet, 16th, Valley Trash, Imperial Crown Princess of All Alaska" will be entered into the lineage of the Court, my title as "The Valley Trash Baroness of Big Lake" will remain ... and that's a title I have yet to develop.

This Week in LGBT Alaska 4/24/09

This week's events from Alaska GLBT News:

Juneau

SEAGLA Social Fridays (6-8 p.m.) for GLBT people and our friends over 21, at The Imperial Bar, downtown. 


Fairbanks

Birthday Party/Dance and Fundraiser for PFLAG & West Valley GSA, for friends 21 and over, at Jeff's House 4/25, 9 p.m.

A celebration of life for Vat Chea, 4/26, 4 p.m. at Club Alaskan. Potluck and silent auction. Friends, 21 and over, are invited to attend; not open to the general public. 


Mat-Su Valley

Mat-Su LGBT Community Center in Palmer is open M-F 5-8 p.m. (except 6-8 on Wed.) The social group meets Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m. at Vagabond Blues. 

Harmony Choir meets at the Center, Thursdays 6:30 p.m.


Kenai Peninsula

Homer Community Gathering 4/30, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at Maura's Cafe next to the Bunnell Street Art Center. Email Homer PFLAG for more info.


Anchorage

ICOAA Imperial Crown Prince and Princess Ball 4/25, doors open at 6 p.m., Ball at 7, $10 at Mad Myrna's.

Sunday worship at MCC Anchorage, 4/26, 2 p.m.

Tansgender Support Group, Sundays 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the GLCCA.

Join Identity's "Graze to Raise" team, registration deadline 4/27. Register online at Alaska Charity Walk. (The Anchorage Graze to Raise is on May 1.)

"Living With Grief: Diversity & End Of Life Care" Seminar 4/29, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium, UAA, sponsored by Hospice of Anchorage. Rev. Van Manen, paster of MCC Anchorage, will speak on aspects of death, grief and loss in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered communities.

Queer Night Out 4/29, 7:30 p.m. Bluegrass at Tap Root Cafe.

Where to Find GLBT Alaska - Business List

Visitors, new residents and long-time Alaskans want to know where to find GLBT-owned and GLBT-friendly businesses in Alaska, so we can support the community with our consumer dollars. Here is the current list.

Obviously, it is not a complete list, and now is a good time to update it. If you are a GLBT Alaskan, or an ally of our community, and want to include your business on Bent Alaska's free list, please leave your information in a comment below the list. If you know a gay-owned or gay-supportive business that you think should be here, please ask the owner to visit Bent and leave a comment.

Disclaimer: This list is not an endorsement or recommendation for the businesses, only a recognition that they are owned by GLBT Alaskans and our Allies.

Bent Alaska's resource list for Alaska's GLBT organizations, groups and publications remains one of the most often visited pages on the blog. There is also a list of GLBT Alaska's Annual Events, and Seasonal and Recurring Events.

UPDATE: There are so many listings for Travel-related businesses, that I've added a separate post and linked it in the right hand column of the blog! Where to Find GLBT Alaska - Travel & Tourism

Alaska's GLBT Business List

Anchorage

530 East 5th Ave
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 276-9762

The Raven (bar)
708 East 4th Ave
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 276-9672

225 East 5th Ave
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 258-5233

Ginger Restaurant (LGBT-friendly)
425 W 5th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 929-3680

Side Street Espresso (LGBT-friendly)
412 G Street
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 258-9055

Anchorage, AK 99504
Phone: (907) 720-9909

Stephen Nolan
1443 West Northern Lights Blvd.
Anchorage, AK 99503
907.245.0036

inside Sunrise Sun Spa
(Huffman and Old Seward)

Custom Cleaning
Home or business cleaning.
Weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly.
Gift Certificates available.
Carol: 351-5100

Dee Gould
Personal Organizer
Member NAPO
907-301-6811

Liza Sims, CPCP
907-561-3937
4100 Lake Otis Parkway #205,
Anchorage AK 99508

therapist specializing in GLBTI people
(907) 566-1708

Out North Theater (LGBT-friendly)
3800 DeBarr Road
(907) 279-8099
Mission: Art + Community = Change

Lea McDermid (LGBT-friendly)
310 K Street, Suite 200
Anchorage AK 99501
(907) 264-6755

Erin Hall Meade (LGBT-friendly)
Financial Advisor
Beckwith Meade Group

3601 C Street, Penthouse West
Anchorage, AK 99503
907.561.4433 Main
907.564.6603 Direct
800.770.7000 Toll Free
866.365.9750 Facsimile

Jeannette Ramos, photographer
photo note cards on 100% recycled paper

Hosts: Lori & Angel
1001 W. 12th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 279-9907
Fax: (907) 279-9862

1352 W. 10th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 276-8686
Fax: (907) 276-2358

327 E. 2nd Court
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 272-4818
1-877-693-1239

1239 I Street
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 274-1239
1-877-693-1239

16136 Sandpiper Drive
Anchorage, Alaska 99516
(907) 868-1594
1-877-454-3046

440 L Street
Anchorage, AK 99501
(907) 258-7999
(866) 258-7999

Eagle River

17026 Santa Maria Drive
Eagle River, Alaska 99577
(907) 694-3978

Mat-Su Valley

Karen Harris
950 S. Trunk Road
Palmer, AK 99645
(907) 746-2333

Fairbanks

Tim Stallard
Out in Alaska (travel)
P.O. Box 82096
Fairbanks, AK 99708

Michael Bartels
(flowers & gifts)
3260 College Rd,
Fairbanks, AK 99709
907-479-6926

Deirdre Helfferich (LGBT-friendly)
PO Box 24, Ester, AK 99725
907.479.3368

Interior

Mile 229.7 Parks Hwy, near Denali National Park.
Specializes in locally grown produce,
organic/free-range meats and game
and is a member of Chef's Collaborative.

Juneau

Perseverance Theatre (LGBT-friendly)
914 Third Street, Douglas, AK 99824
Tickets: 463-TIXS
Telephone: 907-364-2421

Inn, Bakery, Catering, Cinema, Gallery
120 Second Street
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 586-4146

Haines

PO Box 853
Haines, Alaska 99827
(907) 766-2566
1-866-290-7445

Homer

non-profit arts center (LGBT-friendly)
106 W. Bunnell Street, Suite "A"
Homer, Alaska 99603

Sitka

Dr. Cindy Westergaard
201 Lincoln Street, Suite 1
Sitka, Alaska 99835
(907) 747-3743

Day of Silence in Fairbanks

High school and college students in Fairbanks participated again this year in the national Day of Silence on Friday April 17. Day of Silence is the largest student-led protest for creating safer schools, with more than 1,900 middle schools, high schools and colleges participating across the country.

Students at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and at West Valley, Lathrop and Hutchison High Schools participated in the Day of Silence.

The National Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. This year's Day of Silence was held partly in memory of Carl Walker-Hoover, who took his own life on April 6 after enduring constant bullying at school, including daily taunts about being gay, even though he did not identify as gay. Carl would have turned 12 on April 17.

UAF students wrote stories and poems on a Silence Memorial and held a candle-lighting assembly in Cornerstone Park for Day of Silence. They broke their silence with a screening of "The Times of Harvey Milk" in Schaible Hall and a discussion of GLBTQ issues on campus.

Three juniors in West Valley High School's Gay-Straight Alliance club spoke to the Daily News-Miner about their participation in Day of Silence:

"Our school district seems to be really supportive of making sure everyone in the district feels safe, and they've done a good job at not tolerating harassment of any kind," said Grace Matthews, GSA president. "I think we've tried to present this as helping everyone create a safe place where we can all feel comfortable in our own skin."

"It gets easier each year," Lachlan Gillispie said. "Each year, we hear less snide remarks, and people seem to be asking more questions before passing judgment.

"It's important in my life," Andrew Richard said. "There are a lot of people who are silenced when they shouldn't have to be, and I'd like to think that something like today can help them feel supported regardless of what they believe."

This year, the West Valley GSA students created a hallway display that brings together the viewpoints of Day of Silence and a counter event, sponsored by religious organizations and "ex-gay" ministries and held on the Monday following DoS. This so-called Day of Truth was established "to counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective," according to their web site. Students are encouraged to wear t-shirts and hand out cards with messages like "There's freedom to change if you want to." These students are not silent.

The West Valley GSA display says "There are times when silence has the loudest voice," and quotes South African activist Desmund Tutu: "My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together."

Anchorage Pride Prom 09

Over 150 Anchorage youth attended Pride Prom, the "break the silence" activity at the end of the national Day of Silence, held this year on Friday, April 17.

The Pride Prom is a judgement-free dance for youth ages 14-19, sponsored by the Anchorage GSAs. The theme was a Black & White Ball, and dancers were encouraged to wear clothing that would glow in the black lighting. Entertainment was provided by Blackbody Radiation and the Ultraviolet Catastrophe.

 - photo of Conner, the guitarist, performing under the black lights

Identity grant, RAW award, Meetup & Alaskans Together

Gay AK - News and Notes from Alaska's LGBT communities:

Good Work, Lima Beans!
The Legislature rejected Wayne Anthony Ross for the position of Attorney General today, after hundreds (thousands?) of Alaskans voiced opposition to his appointment. Ross is the Anchorage lawyer who called gays "degenerates," and that is one of the many reasons he was denied the AG post. The vote was 35-23. THANK YOU for spreading the word and giving your testimony. We can make a difference!

Alaskans Together
As Alaska's statewide LGBT advocacy group, Alaskans Together for Equality can take public stands on political issues, like opposing the appointment of Wayne Ross. Alaskans Together is organizing our statewide effort to achieve civil equality. Become a member of Alaskans Together for Equality

Anchorage LGBT Meetup group
Meet with other members and supporters of your local Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community. Join the new Anchorage LGBT Meetup Group

Identity receives Pride Foundation Grant
Identity, Inc. is one of the 32 organizations (out of 91 that applied) to receive a Pride Foundation grant for Spring 09. The grant was given in support of Education, Advocacy and Outreach, and for general operating support of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Anchorage. The Pride Foundation report states: "The move in 2006 to a visible downtown location has made the Center the hub of LGBTQ life, providing a safe place for the community to meet, hang out, hold and attend group meetings, and use the resource library and computers."

"Pride Foundation was very impressed with the work we are doing and the size of our volunteer staff," writes Phyllis of Identity. "Over 60 volunteer shifts each month allow us to keep the Center open and available six hours a day, seven days a week, and the volunteers have been doing this for over seven years."

"The funds from Pride Foundation will help pay the rent and utilities for about one third of the year. We still need our community support for the other two-thirds. We would like to encourage members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied community to also be impressed with what we are able to do with volunteer staff. Please pledge $10 a month for the next nine months of 2009 to adopt a day to honor yourself, a friend, or, heck, honor the volunteers who keep the doors open and the Center available!"

Radical Woman Award nominees
The Radical Woman Award honors women who have made significant contributions to the GLBT community in Alaska. Please nominate a wonderful woman in your life. Write a short paragraph highlighting her contributions and send it by May 30 to Radical Arts for Women (RAW). The winner will be announced on June 13 at Celebration of Change.

This Week in LGBT Alaska 4/17/09

This week's events from Alaska GLBT News:

Juneau

SEAGLA Social Fridays (6-8 p.m.) for GLBT people and our friends over 21, at The Imperial Bar, downtown. 

Bac'untry Brothers dRagtime Revue 4/17 the Red Dawg Saloon, 8 p.m. 4/18 Hanger on the Warf, 8 p.m. 4/19 the Folk Fest, 8 p.m. 


Fairbanks

Day of Silence at UAF 4/17, "The Times of Harvey Milk" showing at 6:30 p.m. in Schaible Auditorium.


Mat-Su Valley

Mat-Su LGBT Community Center in Palmer is open M-F 5-8 p.m. (except 6-8 on Wed.) The social group meets Wednesdays, 5-6 p.m. at Vagabond Blues. 

The Harmony Community Choir is forming at the Center, rehearsals on Thursdays 6-7 p.m.


Anchorage

Pride Prom for ages 14-19, at the Chalet 4/17, 7-10:30 p.m.

Semi-Annual Womyn's Dance at the Snow Goose 4/17, 7:30 p.m.

SINsation drag Cabaret with Joey Arias & Sherry Vine from NYC, at 'Koots, thru 4/18, 8 p.m.

No Foolin': A Mardi Gras Fiesta fundraiser for Four A's 4/18, 7 p.m. at Mad Myrna's.

Scott Turner's Annual Bake Sale and Bake-Off for charity 4/19, 4 p.m. at Mad Myrna's.

Sunday worship at MCC Anchorage, 4/19, 2 p.m.

Tansgender Support Group, Sundays 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the GLCCA.


Alaskans Together on WAR's Defeat

Alaskans Together for Equality applauds the legislature's vote to reject Wayne Anthony Ross as Attorney General.

"Wayne Anthony Ross's derogatory statements about gay Alaskans, his stance on native rights, and his views on women and domestic violence made him an incredibly polarizing and divisive figure," wrote Tim Stallard for Alaskans Together. 

"Many Alaskans joined us in our doubt that Ross could uphold the constitutional rights of ALL Alaskans without discrimination. We hope that Governor Palin will nominate someone who will earn the public's trust and respect the constitutional rights of all Alaskans."

Alaskans Together for Equality, Inc. is the statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization in Alaska.

WAR goes down!

Report from Mel: "23 yeas, 35 nays. Wayne Anthony Ross will NOT be Alaska's Attorney General. We fought the good fight, people, and we WON!" 

WAR's anti-gay letter: pedophile jokes, criminals, "immoral in the eyes of anyone with intelligence"

UPDATE from Mel: "23 yeas, 35 nays: WAR goes down! Wayne Anthony Ross will NOT be Alaska Attorney General. We fought the good fight, people, and we WON!"
---------

Wayne Anthony Ross' letter to Lawyers Against Discrimination began with a reference to gays as pedophiles: "Dear LAD: (LAD??? Intentional, on your part? Or merely a Freudian slip?)"

Three weeks ago, Bent Alaska reported that Attorney General-nominee Wayne Anthony Ross called gays "degenerates", "immoral" and a "perversion" in a letter to the Alaska State Bar Association's newsletter, according to the ADN. Since then, Ross has refused to answer the legislators when asked if he feels this way about gays and lesbians now, and, when pressed, compared his homophobia to hating lima beans.

We've learned much about Ross, on many topics, but the question remained: what did the rest of his letter say? The Legislature is scheduled to vote on Ross' appointment Thursday at 11 a.m., and Bent obtained the letter just in time.

Ross wrote the letter to the Alaska Bar Rag in March 1993 in response to an appeal from "Lawyers Against Discrimination," a group that fought the repeal of a non-discrimination ordinance, approved by the Anchorage Assembly, which prohibited the Municipality from employment discrimination on the basis of "sexual preference."

"It was a big messy battle in Anchorage in late 1992/early 1993," writes Mel Green. "The ordinance was ultimately rescinded." Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or preference remains legal today in Anchorage and the rest of Alaska.

Ross' full response to Lawyers Against Discrimination:
"Dear LAD: (LAD??? Intentional, on your part? Or merely a Freudian slip?)
     I received your letter of 23 February 1993 regarding the Anchorage homosexual rights ordinance. While I am not surprised to see some of the names on your letterhead, I am most disappointed in other names thereon. I had more respect for some of you than I do now.
      I am in favor of repeal of the measure. I see nothing involving civil rights in this matter. We all, heterosexual or homosexual, have certain rights. This bill seems to give extra rights to a group whose lifestyle was a crime only a few years ago, and whose beliefs are certainly immoral in the eyes of anyone with some semblance of intelligence and moral character.
     It is a shame that you folks don't have some causes you could become involved in that are of benefit to society in general. Instead, you support degenerates. No wonder the legal profession is treated with less respect than we wish.
     If, as you apparently believe, morality is not based on long-standing God-given and God-instilled principles, but is something that changes from time to time based on public perception of right and wrong, then that is even more reason for you to allow this referendum to go to a vote of the people. After all, isn't it your position that public morality is based upon whatever the public decides?
     None of you has done anything publicly (to my knowledge) to attempt to protect the millions of lives of innocent children killed each year through abortion, yet you collectively contribute $5,000 to the cause of sexual perversion. It is quite disheartening to me to see my fellow members of our honorable profession display such a lack of proper priorities.
     Wayne Anthony Ross
     (from page 7 of the May-June 1993 Alaska Bar Rag)
 - hat tip to Steve for obtaining Ross' letter

Mel's Anti-WAR Letter: "cavalier" attitude on domestic violence and abuse

guest post by Mel Green, from Henkimaa

I'm a writer-blogger, not a political blogger — though I did try it out a little last fall after Palin became a vice-presidential candidate. But it proved too emotionally exhausting for me, & other Alaska progressive bloggers were doing it better. Sometimes, though, you gotta take a stand on something. So here's the letter that I just finished sending out to Alaska legislators. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. It's about my opposition to confirming Wayne Anthony Ross as Alaska Attorney General.

Dear Senator/Representative:

I am writing on my own behalf to express my opposition to Wayne Anthony Ross as Alaska Attorney General. Amongst other things, this letter provides substantiation for one of the claims made in public testimony by Paige Hodgson during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on April 8 about Mr. Ross' opinions about domestic violence.

I oppose Mr. Ross' confirmation on several grounds:
  • His biased and even misogynistic attitudes with regard to domestic violence, sexual violence, and violence against women and children, about which I have more to say below.
  • His antigay attitudes, as expressed in his calling lesbians and gays "degenerates" in a letter to the Alaska Bar Association in 1992. In his House Judiciary Committee testimony last week, he compared lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual/transgender Alaskans to "lima beans," a vegetable he "hates" but would still "represent" if he was hired to be the advocate for "United Vegetable Growers." His un-apt and tortured analogy brings no reassurance to those of us who have already suffered the brunt of his antigay slanders.
  • His longstanding opposition to Alaska Native sovereignty and subsistence rights, about which representatives of the Alaska Native community have testified.
  • His lackadaisical attitude with regard to possible ethical violations by the Governor, as shown in his replies to Rep. Jay Ramras' questions on Friday in the House Judiciary Committee (regarding Gov. Palin's wearing of Arctic Cat gear, regarding her possible book tour, regarding other ethics-related questions). As has been pointed out by others, part of the Attorney General's job is to advise the Governor on questions of executive ethics. Mr. Ross' answers indicate he will more likely simply turn a blind eye.
  • His qualifications as a practitioner of law. His middling scores on the Alaska Bar Association surveys when he applied for seats on the Alaska Supreme Court and Court of Appeals are not simply statistics, but indicative of the opinion those of his colleagues in the bar who have had direct professional experience with him have for his professional competence, integrity, fairness, judicial temperament, suitability for the position, and overall performance. Obviously candidates for Attorney General are not judged according to the same standards as used by the Alaska Judicial Council — but perhaps they should be. In any event, his mediocre scores are instructive. Further evidence of Mr. Ross' capabilities as an attorney — particularly, I would say, with regard to temperament, and hence his ability to work productively with others — can be found in last Wednesday's public testimony by Vic Vitale, a retired attorney who reported having tried many cases against Mr. Ross. Mr. Vitale described Mr. Ross as "ill prepared in court," "bombastic," and "very rigid," and said that in his experience Mr. Ross "doesn't give credence to contrary arguments." The picture which begins to emerge is that of someone who has closed his mind and does not permit contrary evidence to sway him. Is this the person who should be appointed to direct the state's largest law firm?
I want now to go into further discussion of his views about violence against women and children.

By way of background, I am an 18-year staff member of the Justice Center at University of Alaska Anchorage, where I am responsible for the preparation and layout of research documents, including our quarterly, the Alaska Justice Forum. I'm also responsible for the design and maintenance of the by-now extensive Justice Center website. As such, I am very familiar with the groundbreaking research conducted in recent years by the Justice Center's Dr. André Rosay and his research partners on sexual violence and violence against women in Alaska, and in fact helped to prepare most of the materials which Dr. Rosay presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he testified there on March 25.

My familiarity with Dr. Rosay's research findings made me all the more alarmed when I heard the testimony at last week's Senate and House Judiciary Committee hearings on Mr. Ross' appointment. I mean not only the public testimony of Leah Burton to the House Judiciary Committee on the statements about spousal rape and domestic violence which Mr. Ross is alleged to have made at a DADS group meeting in the early 1990s — testimony I personally find credible — but also the public testimony last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee of Paige Hodgson, who discussed comments made by Mr. Ross at a panel discussion a few years ago at University of Alaska Anchorage. According to Ms. Hodgson, Mr. Ross, who was one of the panel presenters, remarked that domestic abuse was on the rise because the equal rights movement "emasculated men" and caused them in turn to beat their wives. He further insinuated that women lied about domestic violence in order to gain advantage in child custody cases. 

On questioning by the committee, Ms. Hodgson stated that she had asked the university to set up the panel discussion, and that it was organized by Dr. Sharon Araji. Dr. Araji was at that time a sociology professor at UAA but has since joined the faculty of University of Colorado in Denver. In an attempt to verify the testimony, I wrote to Dr. Araji last week, and today received an email in reply, in which Dr. Araji wrote:
Yes, he was on the panel that was a community workshop. Andre [Rosay] and Pam [Kelley] are well aware of this workshop as [the] Justice [Center] also participated in it. I think it was Fall of 2005 — it was in conjunction with the PBS documentary "Breaking the Silence". This was about children's experiences when they were given to abusive parents in contested custody battles. I don't remember what Wayne's words were exactly, but his attitude was quite cavalier and placed the blame anywhere but on the abusive husbands/partners.
Research on the UAA website confirms that the event, cosponsored by the UAA Sociology Department and the Justice Center, was held on the UAA campus on October 14, 2005 in advance of KAKM's broadcast of "Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories" the following week. The event included a showing of the documentary, followed by a panel discussion and discussion with the audience. Justice Center faculty member Pamela Kelley, J.D. was among the panelists, along with Dr. Araji and Mr. Ross. 

I spoke with Professor Kelley this afternoon about the panel. Like Dr. Araji, she has no recollection of a specific remark by Mr. Ross about the equal rights movement "emasculating men," but she indicated that Mr. Ross' comments on the panel were much as both Paige Hodgson and Dr. Araji characterized them, "hook line and sinker" taking an extremist "dads' rights" position that excused abusive men from any responsibility for domestic violence and abuse, and alleging that accusations of such crimes were generally fabricated in order to gain advantage in divorce or child custody battles — regardless of evidence to the contrary.

This should come as no surprise to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and others who heard Mr. Ross' testimony last Wednesday, April 8, because many of his statements there echoed such opinions — for example, Mr. Ross contended that Office of Children's Services workers, who are tasked with protecting children from abuse, are actually trying to remove children from families in order to "get money from the legislature" or that at least some people are accused of child abuse "just because they offended an OCS worker." Of course there are men who prove to be innocent of charges of abuse and domestic and sexual violence brought against them. But Mr. Ross, who claimed in his testimony that "all my clients are innocent" (by implication, even those who were found guilty in court), appears to have a strong bias against even entertaining the possibility of guilt on the part of a husband, boyfriend, or father accused of these serious crimes, regardless of the evidence. 

Mr. Ross also showed considerable ignorance of the facts regarding sexual violence in the state — for example, that Alaska has the dubious distinction of having the highest rates of sexual assault in the nation. "I've heard that," he told the committee, "and I have no way to verify if that's correct." (Committee members, of course, had received ample proof just two weeks before when Dr. Rosay presented UAA research to them.) Asked by Sen. Lesil McGuire "how you intend to tackle and educate yourself" about these issues, Mr. Ross evaded the question, telling the committee how after his few days on the job so far, he now knew "where the men's room was" and was learning how to use the state email system, commenting that "learning new things" was part of the fun of the job. Once again the word "cavalier" comes to mind.

Is someone with such a proven bias qualified to take on the role of Alaska's chief law enforcement officer, and head of the department charged with prosecuting these crimes? Research shows that less than 30 percent of founded cases of sexual violence reported to the Alaska State Troopers actually result in a conviction. Might we not expect conviction rates for founded cases to go down even further under an Attorney General who, biased to believe all the accused to be innocent regardless of evidence, might well pressure the district attorneys under his supervision to pull their punches?

Mr. Ross claims that he can fairly represent and protect the rights of all Alaskans, including all of those he has shown enmity, disregard, and contempt toward throughout his long career. I am not so confident.

I urge you to vote against Mr. Ross' confirmation as Attorney General.

Copyright © 2008 by Bent Alaska.