Attend Ordinance Hearing #4, Tues. 6/23

Since Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander has decided to keep the public hearing open indefinitely, we are asking that all supporters of equality attend the Assembly meeting this Tuesday, June 23rd, and sign up to register your support for equality if you haven't already. Recruit your friends, your family, your neighbors, and your co-workers and have them sign up, too. 

We know that our opponents do not represent the majority of Anchorage citizens and we need to show our Assembly members, Acting Mayor Claman, and Mayor-Elect Dan Sullivan that the vocal minority that is opposed to this ordinance is not a true reflection of our community. The meeting starts at 5:00 pm, but as usual, we need to pack the Assembly chambers with our supporters so please arrive early if possible. The Chamber doors are usually unlocked at 3 pm. 

Opponents of equality want to push a vote to July in hopes that Dan Sullivan will veto any ordinance that gets passed. We say, let them do it! Matt Claman's return to the Assembly will just give us one more vote for equality and increase our chances of gaining enough votes to override any veto. 

Change is never easy, but this fight is not over. We are willing to bring our case to Acting Mayor Claman, we are willing to bring the case to Mayor-Elect Dan Sullivan, and we are willing to bring our case to the people of Anchorage.

Remember, Equality Works.


Finally, the event we've been waiting for: Saturday, June 20 is the Anchorage PRIDEFEST, with the Diversity Parade at 11 a.m., Pride on the Park Strip at noon, and DJ's spinning tunes after the show. 

The Celebrating Diversity Parade includes floats, marching contingents, music, a motorcycle/bicycle group and spectators cheering along the route. The Parade will start downtown at 6th and D, march west on 6th to K, zigzag to 9th, then travel west to the end of the Park Strip. The route map is on the PrideFest Links page.

The Anchorage PrideFest 2009 Parade Grand Marshals are M.E. Rider and Victoria Shaver.

The Festival on the Park Strip will feature live entertainment throughout the day. The high-energy, all-ages lineup will include musicians, dancers, drag performers, slam poets, and more. The Festival is located west of the Rose Garden this year, at the far west end of the Park Strip.

The Marketplace will include many local vendors, including GLBT service organizations, local restaurants and food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, and Pride merchandise. We encourage you to support these vendors who support the Alaska GLBT community in so many ways.

See you there!

This Week in LGBT Alaska 6/19/09 - PRIDEFEST Saturday!

The event you've been waiting for: Saturday is PRIDEFEST, with the Diversity Parade at 11 a.m., Pride on the Park Strip at 2 p.m., and DJ Dan spinning tunes after the show. Check the official Pride Week schedule for updates. The route is different this year and the map is on the PrideFest Links page.

This week's events from the statewide newsletter Alaska GLBT News.


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

Gay Pride Picnic Celebration at Skater's Cabin 6/20, 2-7 p.m. SEAGLA

National HIV Testing Week 6/23-6/27 Four A's is offering free HIV testing June 23-27 at various locations around Juneau.

Mat-Su Valley

Come to Anchorage PrideFest on Saturday, June 20. 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 on Thursdays, 6:30 p.m.


Hedwig and the Angry Inch, 6/19-6/21 at 8 p.m. Live performance starring Atz Lee Kilcher as Hedwig, with a 5-piece band, at the Best Western Bidarka Inn. A benefit for Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic. Opening night $50, other shows $15. 


Mr/Ms/Miss Gay Anchorage 2009-2010 competition, 6/19 at 8 p.m. Mad Myrna's. $3

Midnight Soapscum at Out North, Fridays & Saturdays 6/19-7/18, 10:30 p.m.

Diversity Parade and Festival on the Park Strip, Saturday, June 20.

An Evening of Musical Entertainment 6/20, 8 p.m. Kevin Holtz with GMK and Company. Mad Myrna's. $10.

10th Annual Allie's Slave for a Date Auction, 6/20, 9 p.m. $5 at the Kodiak Bar.

Coffee Date showing at the Museum 6/20 & 6/21, 6 p.m.

Pride Week Reception: Celebrating Marriage 6/21, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. at Bernie's Bungalow. Hosts: 2-3pm Identity, 3-4pm The Imperial Court of All Alaska, 4-5pm GLSEN.

National HIV Testing Week 6/20-6/27 Four A's is offering free HIV testing.

Pride Weekend Worship with MCC Anchorage 6/21, 2 p.m. Music, scripture, and message titled "Fear N Faith."

Free BBQ at the Kodiak 6/21, 8 p.m. with Speed Dating and Kissing Booths.

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

Anchorage Frontrunners, Tuesdays, 6 p.m.

Equality Works Optimistic on Gaining Equal Protection

Ending Discrimination and Creating Change are Historically Challenging, and Ultimately Always Successful


Equality Works, a coalition of Alaska Organizations, issued the following statement regarding the Assembly consideration of Ordinance 64. 


"Equality Works remains confident that Anchorage supports an end to discrimination," said spokesperson Jackie Buckley. "Americans – by a vast majority – want equal protection for all in employment, housing, and public accommodations.


"Our coalition of organizations and fair-minded individuals know that the battle for change is difficult and that there would be times when challenges arose. We will not back down.


"Many options remain open to achieving the equality that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families need and deserve. We continue our work with the Assembly and Mayor Claman, and will work with Mayor Elect Sullivan to find a solution. We trust that the people of Anchorage support our work."


Equality Works is a coalition of organizations and individuals working to protect Anchorage citizens from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in matters of employment, housing, and public accommodations, and includes the Alaska Women's Lobby, Alaska Women's Political Caucus, Alaskans Together for Equality, Alliance for Reproductive Justice-Alaska, American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, Anchorage Education Association, Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Anchorage Urban League, Association of Fundraising Professionals-Alaska Chapter, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network-Anchorage (GLSEN), Identity, Inc., Immanuel Presbyterian Church, League of Women Voters of Anchorage, National Association of Social Workers-Alaska Chapter, Parents, Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest.


More information regarding the Ordinance may be found at Equality Works.

Midnight Soapscum and Big Fat Gay Wedding at Out North

Midnight Soapscum: Goes to Hell! is a 5 episode soap opera being performed live during June and July at Out North Theater, concluding with The Big Fat Gay Wedding before the final show on Saturday, July 18th.

Theatre Artists United returns with Season Two of Alaska's only live soap opera, written by Christian Heppinstall. See a new episode every week. Midnight Soapscum: Goes to Hell! features love, sex, porn, aliens, Donny & Marie, and a war against California's Prop 8 banning gay marriage. The local cast includes Jon Minton, N'kia, Anthony Lounsbury, and Christian Heppinstall as Svetlana Smirnov. Directed by Jon Minton. Performances at 10:30 p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays, June 19th-July 18th. Tickets are $15 online or at the door.

Midnight Soapscum Goes to Hell!
Episode One - June 19th & 20th 

Love. Sex. Porn. Aliens. Madame Svetlana Smirnov has seen it all, and then some. But now her strength will be tested when she is implored to take a stand against California's Prop 8 banning Gay Marriage, and wage war against the tyrants who support it. With a new CEO, a new stable of studs, a wannabe-starlet with a mysterious past, and a French guy with a poodle, can she defeat the combined forces of a former porn star-cum-anti-porn crusader, a bloodthirsty priest, a Vice Presidential candidate, and Donny & Marie (yes, that Donny and Marie)? 

Midnight Soapscum Goes to Hell!
Episode Two - June 26th & 27th

With Madame Svetlana Smirnov taking a stand against California's Prop 8 banning gay marriage, the action is heating up in Midnight Soapscum Goes to Hell! Tune in and find out why aliens, President Obama, a catfight between a former porn star and the country's hottest Governor, and an ending that gives new meaning to the term "divine intervention" all make it an episode you can't afford to miss! 

Midnight Soapscum Goes to Hell!
Episode Three - July 3rd & 4th

Alaska's only live soap opera gets deeper and darker as Caribou Barbie and her cohorts execute the beginning stages of their master plan to bring down Madame Svetlana Smirnov for supporting gay marriage and opposing the ban on it by Prop 8. As Zami Lorde struggles with her identity, Brie Savage attempts to blackmail Smirnov Studios, but instead comes face-to-face with a forbidden romance. It all leads up to a scene so suspenseful, Hitchcock would be on the edge of his seat. Who will reach their grim demise in the bell tower of Mission San Juan Bautista? Tune in and find out! 

Episode 4 - July 10 & 11
Episode 5 - July 17 & 18
Descriptions of these exciting episodes are TBA. Check the Out North schedule for updates.

The Big Fat Gay Wedding!
July 18th

Come support gay marriage and your gay friends and family! Get married for real (if you are straight), get your union blessed (for gays) or just renew your vows at Out North before the final showing of Episode Five of Midnight Soapscum Goes to Hell, Saturday, July 18th. Officiated by Rev. Dianne O'Connell. 7pm Reception, 8pm Marriage Ceremonies, 9pm Wedding photos with the cast, 10:30pm Episode Five, Midnight: Blessing of Love & cast party. Free admission for the Reception and Weddings.

The Music and Poetry of Celebration 09

The Celebration of Change Silver Anniversary show was performed on Saturday, June 13 in the Wilda Marston Theater, presenting a variety of female musicians, poets and comedians to the mostly female audience. 

Celebration is the main fundraiser for RAW, Radical Arts for Women, a Lesbian and Feminist philanthropic group that funds Alaskan women art projects.

The Wilda Marston Theater is also being used this month as the overflow room for the Assembly hearing on the equal rights ordinance, which seeks to add "sexual orientation" to the Anchorage nondiscrimination policies.

But on June 13, the Wilda Marston rocked with the sounds of women's voices, from original jazz to pop and opera, Balkan folk songs on the accordion to the Mary Tyler Moore show theme song, and covers of rock and country. Several of the performers are new to Alaska or new to Celebration. Other performers, and many audience members, have been coming to Celebration of Change for years, or decades.

The Radical Woman Award 2009 was presented to Victoria Shaver for her work with Celebration and the LGBT community. Congratulations, Victoria!

Photos from Ordinance Hearing #3

The parade of bigotry continued inside the Assembly chambers on Wednesday as opponents to the Anchorage ordinance demanded the right to keep discriminating against gays.

Outside the library, DJ Dan spun tunes for the demonstrators. Ordinance supporters celebrated diversity and civil rights, while opponents pushed lies and fear.

How many hours of prejudice does the Assembly need to hear to recognize us as a stigmatized minority group? How many days and weeks of personal attacks do we need to sit through to gain legal protection? 

The next scheduled hearing is on Tuesday, June 23. Please wear blue.

Ordinance Hearing #2: Religious Rule has it's Day in Court

The crowd lining 36th Avenue danced to the DJ's tunes, holding their homemade 'equal rights' signs and cheering to the drivers who honked. But on the other side of the library, and inside the building, grim people in devil-red shirts preached a different message, a mix of prejudice and theocracy.

At this second Anchorage Assembly hearing on adding "sexual orientation" to the city's non-discrimination policy, two men held a banner across the building entrance with the words "Jesus is the Lord of Alaska" written in all capital letters across the Alaska flag.

Nearby, in a crowd of mass-produced "Truth is not Hate" signs, a teenage girl in tight jeans held a sign saying "Homosexuals are going straight to HELL!!" and two young men held signs with religious quotes about sin. When I tried to take their picture (second photo), an older man blocked my view and told them to put away the signs. He agreed with their beliefs, but they couldn't risk being seen as anti-gay.

I listened to hours of testimony in the overflow room. Gay, lesbian and transgendered people of Anchorage shared personal experiences of discrimination, and allies hoped that our city would adopt this overdue measure of fairness. Opponents, in a fascinating twist of illogic, doubted that anti-gay discrimination existed, then asserted their religious right to continue discriminating against us.

All of their arguments came down to the same point - the Bible says that homosexuality is an abomination, and the city law must support that. No civil rights for sinners. Equality is immoral. Separation of church and state is un-American.

The overweight man sitting next to me nodded and clapped at the unpatriotic speeches, quoting Bible verses in support of each point. I asked him to be quiet so I could hear the testimony. He replied that he came to the Assembly meeting to bring the word of Jesus to gays, so we could repent and find salvation. I moved to another row.

Opposition leaders are trying to control the media message with their pre-printed signs about speech and truth, but bigotry leaks out of the rank and file members. They're protesting at the library because 'God Hates Fags', in the words of the infamous Fred Phelps, and thus the law should hate gays too. 

Prejudice against gays is their focus this month because of the equal rights ordinance. But the bigger target is the state, and the goal is theocracy. How will the Assembly respond?

Ordinance Hearing Open Thread - June 16

If I can get online at the hearing and picnic today, I'll do a bit of live-blogging in the comments below this post. Feel free to join in.

2nd Hearing Today: Who Should Determine the Laws of Anchorage?

Gov. Palin, in today's acceptance of David Letterman's apology, talked about America's Right to Free Speech: "may that right be used to promote equality and respect." I couldn't agree more!

The second Assembly hearing on the equal rights ordinance for Anchorage is tonight, Tuesday June 16, in Loussac Library. Doors open at 3 p.m., meeting starts at 5, arrive early if you want a seat inside. 

At least two groups are holding picnics with food and music outside on the Library lawn. Potluck of the People will celebrate both the diversity and the unity of our city, and everyone is invited. Bring food and musical instruments. Wear whatever you like and make your own sign.

An anti-ordinance demonstration is also planned, with food and a "praise band." Mass-produced signs with a pre-approved message in large block letters (shows up great on TV!) will be available for you to carry. Everyone wears red. The demo is Prevo's media display, to show that he calls the shots in this town, to flash his big red band.

So who should determine the laws of Anchorage?

1. The Assembly and Mayor, with input from a diversity of Anchorage people.
2. Residents of Wasilla (who are being allowed to testify against the ordinance.)
3. Jerry Prevo.

The ordinance has already been watered down once to appease Prevo, who responded that "the term "sexual orientation" is not acceptable in any discrimination ordinance." Members of the clergy, including Prevo and those who support equality, met with the Assembly and Mayor last night. Today, the ordinance is being revised again.

Who should decide what becomes the law in Anchorage and what doesn't? The Assembly, Mayor and residents, including you and me and the Moderate Majority? Or extremists like Prevo and his followers?

Send your answer to the Assembly members today

Attend the second hearing on the equal rights ordinance this evening. Come early if you want a seat inside the library. Bring food, drink and music for the unity picnic on the lawn. See you there!

Hearings on Tues. & Wed., Buckley Brigade formed to Welcome and Protect

from Equality Works

The second round of testimony is on Tuesday, June 16, 5-11 pm. Once again, we want to try to fill Loussac Library with a sea of blue (and don't forget your Equality Works buttons!). You may have already testified, but we still need you to be there in solidarity with those who haven't had a chance. They need to hear you applauding and supporting their bravery just as they did for you.

Please come early! Doors to the Assembly chambers are unlocked at 3 pm, but if you can get there earlier, even better. Bring a book, bring friends, bring your laptop--but be there!

There is a third round of testimony scheduled for the following day, Wednesday, June 17, from 4-10 pm. So if you can't make it on Tuesday, come Wednesday.

A Note on Safety
We are aware that the atmosphere outside Loussac Library last week was in many ways far more heated and hostile than the atmosphere inside the Assembly chambers. Many of our supporters were so intimidated by the red shirts that they never even made it into the library. Others were afraid to walk back to their cars alone when the meeting was over.


To ensure that LGBT community & allies feel safe and welcome at this week's hearings and other hearings to come, Jackie Buckley is organizing the Buckley Brigade—a welcome wagon/security team that will be present to greet our supporters with smiling faces, escort them back and forth to their cars if necessary, and ensure that the rallying outside doesn't get too loud or out of control.


If you have any friends who left Loussac Library last week without going inside, please let them know that the Buckley Brigade will be working all evening to make sure that everyone is safe. If you're outside the library and don't see a supportive face, head toward the fountain just south of the library entrance and someone will greet you there.


If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email Tiffany McClain of Equality Works. Thank you!

Palin Snubs PrideFest, Wasilla Fundies Protest Gays

Gov. Sarah Palin has ignored a Gay Pride Month proclamation submitted by Anchorage PrideFest, but a proposal to add "sexual orientation" to the city's non-discrimination policies caught the attention of Wasilla fundamentalists, who arrived in busloads to testify at an Anchorage hearing on Tuesday while their children protested outside.

Children opposed to the equal rights ordinance lined the entrances to the parking lot and building during the meeting, wearing red shirts and carrying mass produced signs from the Alaska Family Council.

Palin's hometown of Wasilla is not part of the Anchorage Municipality, but perhaps opponents could not find enough anti-gay Anchorage residents willing to testify against their neighbors and coworkers.

Before the hearing, Anchorage PrideFest sent a Pride Month proclamation to Gov. Palin, inviting her to attend the annual Parade & Festival on June 20. Palin has not responded, although she has proclaimed Flag Day, Fishing Week and Auburn Founders Day in honor of Auburn, New York, so far for June.

The proclamation asks Palin to declare June as Gay Pride Month and to "urge all citizens of Alaska to join me in celebrating diversity by attending, supporting, recognizing, and respecting Anchorage PrideFest 2009 activities and events."

On June 1, President Obama declared June 2009 as LGBT Pride Month, stating support for measures like "outlawing discrimination in the workplace," a subject covered by the proposed Anchorage equal rights ordinance.

The ordinance, AO 2009-64(S), adds "sexual orientation" to the list of groups protected against discrimination in employment, housing, financing, education, public accommodations and municipal business. The original proposal was revised by the mayor to address concerns by religious opponents, but opponents still object, saying "the term "sexual orientation" is not acceptable in any discrimination ordinance."

Wasilla residents do not pay property taxes to Anchorage, nor do they vote for our Assembly members. However, a suggestion to limit testimony to Anchorage residents was turned down by the Assembly Chair.

Please join us at the next hearing on the equal rights ordinance on Tuesday, June 16, at Loussac Library. Doors open at 3, the meeting begins at 5 p.m. and ordinance testimony is likely to run from 7-11. Come early if you want a seat inside. Everyone is invited to share food and music at a Potluck for the People, on the Library lawn. Anchorage residents are encouraged to write to our Assembly members and ask them to vote YES on the Equal Rights Ordinance.

The Assembly has also scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, June 17, from 4-10 p.m.

PrideFest Asks Palin to Declare Gay Pride Month in Alaska

In addition to planning a full week of Pride activities, Anchorage PrideFest 2009 has asked Gov. Sarah Palin to proclaim June as Gay Pride Month in Alaska, like President Obama proclaimed June LGBT Pride Month throughout the United States.

On June 1, President Obama proclaimed June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month: "During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."

A few days later, Jasmine Stokes of Identity and Anchorage PrideFest, sent similar Gay Pride Month proclamations to Gov. Sarah Palin and Mayor Matt Claman, inviting both to join the LGBT community for the Anchorage Diversity Parade and Pride Festival on June 20. Neither has responded.

Anchorage Pride Week runs June 13-21, with the Parade and Festival on the Park Strip on Saturday. The full schedule of PrideFest 09 includes movies, a play, religious services, a reception, and the choosing of this year's Mr/Ms/Miss Gay Anchorage.

Here is the introductory letter to Gov. Palin and the Gay Pride Month Proclamation for the State of Alaska:
June 4, 2009 

Governor Sarah Palin
State of Alaska
P.O. Box 110001
Juneau, AK 99811-0001

RE: Gay Pride Month Proclamation 

Dear Governor Palin:

Identity, Inc. is an Alaska 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that, in addition to providing  a number of services to the LGBT community in Anchorage, has also hosted Anchorage PrideFest each June for more than 20 years. Each year the Celebrating Diversity Parade and Festival on the Park Strip are big hits, drawing visitors, residents and eager participants. Throughout the city people feel a sense of pride and joy at being able to express the great diversity found here in Anchorage and the entire state of Alaska. 

This year our theme is "The Last Queer Frontier" in honor of the state of Alaska that has and continues to be home to so many people who have done amazing things for the LGBT community, and also to bring attention to how the community has grown in its level of confidence despite various trials. It also pays respect to our Governor and the administration which has chosen to be progressive and accepting despite the many difficulties of taking the right stand. 

The Pride Festival and Parade are scheduled for June 20, 2009. As you know, President Barack Obama has recently signed and announced a proclamation declaring June LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender) Pride Month. In honor of both his proclamation as the leader of the nation and the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, it would be inspiring to have you show your support. I have enclosed a proclamation declaring June as Gay Pride Month in the State of Alaska that I invite you to personally announce. I would also like to extend the invitation, as always, to join the LGBT community in celebration. 

If you have any questions about Anchorage PrideFest 2009, please contact me [phone number removed] or via email through the Anchorage PrideFest web site. 


Identity, Inc. 
Jasmine Stokes 
Publicity Chair, Anchorage PrideFest 2009 

State of Alaska

Whereas, Alaska is a state composed of a great variety of diverse peoples, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, languages and customs; and 
WHEREAS, a society can only define itself as democratic and truly strong once there is an equal participation of all the community in any social, economic, and political activities; and 
WHEREAS, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities have contributed to the state of Alaska through active involvement in economic and cultural progress despite and in the face of active discrimination; and 
WHEREAS, Anchorage PrideFest and Parade of 2009 is scheduled for June 20, 2009; and 
WHEREAS, In June of 2009 the entirety of the United States finds itself approaching the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a pivotal event in the development of gay rights and the establishment of a unified effort to rectify the wrongs experienced by those who endured that time; and 
WHEREAS, the State of Alaska respects and values the dignity of all of its citizens; 
NOW, THEREFORE, I Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, do hereby proclaim the month of June 2009 as: 

And strongly urge all citizens of Alaska to join me in celebrating diversity by attending, supporting, recognizing, and respecting Anchorage PrideFest 2009 activities and events. 


Know Your Status on National HIV Testing Week

National HIV Testing Week is June 20-27, 2009 and the Four A's is offering free HIV testing at various locations in Juneau and in Anchorage, including at Anchorage PrideFest.

The Four A's will be marching in the PrideFest parade on Saturday, June 20th. "Come out and join our marching unit, themed Mission Possible: Know Your Status. Wear your camoflauge and help us encourage people to get tested to Know Their Status!"

This Week in LGBT Alaska 6/12/09

LGBT Pride Week 6/13-6/21
Anchorage Pride Week begins on June 13 and continues all week. The Diversity Parade and the Festival on the Park Strip are on Saturday, June 20. Check the PrideFest schedule for the list of fabulous Pride Week events!

This week's events:


SEAGLA Social Fridays (6-8 p.m.) at The Imperial Bar. 

Gay Men's Hike 6/14, 9:45 a.m.

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 on Thursdays, 6:30 p.m.


Anchorage Pride Week 6/13-6/21

Side Street Saturdays, noon in Side Street Cafe.

Gay Memorial Service 6/13, 11 a.m.

Celebration of Change Silver Anniversary show 6/13, 7 p.m.

Sunday worship with MCC Anchorage, 6/14, 2 p.m.

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

Outrage at the Bear Tooth 6/15 at 5:30 & 7:45 p.m.

Anchorage Frontrunners, Tuesdays, 6 p.m.

Pride Week Poetry Parley at Out North 6/17, 7 p.m.

Drag Queen Bingo with Four A's 6/18, 7 p.m.

Poltergay at the Bear Tooth 6/18

Ordinance Hearing, Week 2

We want to thank you all for coming out to show the Municipal Assembly and the city of Anchorage how much you believe in equality for all. We appreciate and admire the courage of all who spoke, and the love and support of those who came to ensure that the people who testified had friends and allies to shore them up. 

In many ways it was a difficult and emotional night, but in other ways it was quite heartening. It is easy to dwell on the hurtful things that were said, but we also saw the best of Anchorage in that room. It is our hope that you will help us carry the positive energy into the following weeks as the public hearings continue.

What You Can Do Now

Show up for the second round of testimony on Tuesday, June 16th! Once again, we want to fill Loussac Library with a sea of blue (and don't forget your Equality Works buttons!) You may have already testified, but we still need you to be there in solidarity with those who haven't had a chance. They need to hear you applauding and supporting their bravery just as they did for you.

Come early. Doors to the Assembly chambers are unlocked at 3 pm. Bring a book, bring friends, bring your laptop--be there!

If you have any questions or concerns, contact us through the Equality Works web site. We cannot say thank you enough. 

Adding "Sexual Orientation" to UA Policy Supports the Mission, Attracts Best Applicants

University of Alaska students and supporters asked the Regents to add "sexual orientation" to the UA system's nondiscrimination policy during the Regents meeting in Fairbanks last week. The News-Miner wrote in part:
Jessica Angelette, president of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Gay-Straight Alliance, told the university's Board of Regents on Thursday that its current anti-discrimination rules lack explicit bans on discrimination based on "sexual orientation," something she indicated leaves university life scarier for gay students and active supporters of gay rights.

Angelette told regents that some students, gay or straight, are harassed after participating in campus events. She said one girl moved out of her dorm room two weeks before classes ended because she was being bullied by her roommate.

"We ... would like to work with the board to have the amending policy (be) the first step in making all campuses safe for every student," she said.

The university system follows some "interdependent partnership" rules that extend benefits for same-sex couples to employees and faculty. But efforts to explicitly mention sexual orientation in the regents' nondiscrimination policy — which bans discrimination based on sex, race and other factors — have fallen short at least twice, according to university records.
The comment section below the article is filled with thoughtful support and a few opponents who just don't get it.

This comment posted under the screen name "reason" clearly explains why the policy change supports the UA mission and is essential in attracting the most qualified employees:
"Kudos to UA students for taking the initiative to ask for a change in policy that is long overdue!

"Many colleges and universities across the United States already include "sexual orientation" in their nondiscrimination policy, and many are beginning to add "gender identity" as well. The Fairbanks North Star Borough public school district already includes both of these aspects of identity in their nondiscrimination policy. It is important for UA to add both of these to its nondiscrimination policy in order to protect students, staff, and faculty from the very real incidents of harassment that do take place on campus and that Christopher Eshleman's article describes very well. Adding to the UA's nondiscrimination policy is essential in forwarding the university's mission: students, staff, and faculty all need a climate free of harassment in order to do their best work.

"Moreover, like any other organization situated in a national and international marketplace, UA is competing with comparable organizations for students, staff, and faculty. Accreditation standards require universities to hire faculty with the most advanced degrees in their fields, and in many disciplines, such degrees are not offered in the state of Alaska. UA thus _must_ compete in the national and international marketplace for many of its faculty. As a faculty member who has sat on search committees for job candidates, I recently heard a job candidate express great surprise upon learning that UA does not offer a form of protection from discrimination that elsewhere is considered "standard." The lack of language concerning "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" hurts UA.

"The University of Alaska system cannot and should not wait for a federal law banning discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity". Many universities, colleges, school districts, and businesses already ban these kinds of discrimination because such policies better help them to achieve their mission. UA needs those protections now: to ensure that we can compete most successfully in the national and international marketplace to deliver the best education to the students in Alaska, and to ensure that all of our people can do their best work in a climate free of harassment and discrimination."

Alaska Pride 2009

Alaska is celebrating LGBT Pride in Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, and Homer this summer, with a variety of events beginning on June 13.

On June 1, President Obama proclaimed June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. For the last few years, Anchorage has declared the third Saturday in June as Gay Pride Day, and then Mayor, now Senator Mark Begich read the proclamation from the Festival stage. 

Anchorage Pride Week 6/13-6/21

Anchorage Pride Week 2009: "The Last Queer Frontier" runs June 13-21, with the Diversity Parade and Festival on the Park Strip on Saturday, June 20. The full schedule of PrideFest 09 includes movies, a play, religious services, a reception, and the choosing of this year's Mr/Ms/Miss Gay Anchorage.

Juneau Gay Men's Hike 6/14, and Gay Pride Picnic at Skater's Cabin 6/20

Juneau is celebrating LGBT Pride Month with a Gay Men's Hike up West Glacier Trail on June 14, and a Gay Pride Picnic Celebration at Skater's Cabin on June 20.

West Glacier hike is mostly moderate with a little bit of rock scrambling, but not technical. Please dress for the weather, and wear appropriate foot wear and clothing. Bring a day pack with your own drinking water, trail or energy snacks, and a sandwich. The round trip should take about 6 hours with an hour break at the glacier. Meet at the trail head next to Skater's Cabin at 9:45 am and depart promptly at 10:00 am.

The Gay Pride Picnic Celebration at Skater's Cabin is on June 20, 2-7 p.m. Everyone in the LGBTA community is invited. Please bring a side dish, and SEAGLA will provide burgers and some beverages. Glass containers are prohibited. This year's Pride Picnic is sponsored by SEAGLA, PFLAG, Alaskans Together, Juneau-Douglass GSA, and the Imperial Court of All Alaska.

Homer: Hedwig and the Angry Inch 6/19-6/21, and PFLAG in the July 4th Parade

The queer show "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" is being performed live with a five-piece band at the Best Western Bidarka Inn as a benefit for Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic, Homer's gay-friendly clinic. Tickets for opening night are $50, other performances $15, and are available at the Homer Bookstore and KBFPC. There is a discount for KBFPC members. 

Also, the new Homer PFLAG chapter has decided to make a float for the local July 4th parade this year, and the entire LGBTA community is invited participate.

Fairbanks PFLAG in the Golden Days Parade 6/25

Fairbanks PFLAG will march in the Golden Days Grand Parade on July 25, starting at the Carlson Center, and the LGBTA community is invited to help carry the historic rainbow flag again this year. There will be an LGBT picnic after the parade. 

It has become a tradition for the PFLAG contingent to carry a forty-five-foot rainbow flag from Key West, Florida, a segment of the longest gay pride flag ever made, in the Fairbanks Golden Days Parade.

"This will be PFLAG's third year in the parade, and the Chamber, the city, and the crowds have been really good about us being a part," writes Pete of Fairbanks PFLAG. "PFLAG is also planning a booth for the Tanana Valley State Fair again this August."

Photos from the Ordinance Hearing

Equal Rights Rally & Picnic at Loussac Today

Join supporters of the ordinance before the public hearing tonight in Anchorage at an Equal Rights Rally & Picnic at Northeast Cuddy Park next to Loussac Library, starting at 3:30 p.m. Make signs, share food, and show your support for equality!

Attend the Public Hearing: Tuesday, June 9 at Loussac Library

We need YOU to be at the public hearing on June 9th to show Assembly members that people in our town want lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Alaskans to be protected from discrimination! 

Where? Loussac Library, Assembly Chambers 1st Floor (36th & Denali) 

When? 5:00-11:00, but if you want to get a seat or you plan to testify, we recommend that you get there no later than 4:30. 

What to do? Wear blue—the color of peace and unity—and your Equality Works button. 

What if I can't stay for the meeting? Get out your markers and paint to make a sign and show your solidarity outside the library for as long as you can stick around. 

Note on Hearing Conduct: This is an official meeting that must be conducted as fairly and impartially as possible. It is important that we conduct ourselves with respect and restraint, no matter how offensive the remarks we might hear coming from the other side. Please refrain from booing, name-calling, or otherwise mocking those who disagree with you. Also, we want to see hundreds of supportive signs outside Loussac library, but they will not be allowed inside the hearing room.  

Revised Ordinance Exempts Small Businesses, Religious Groups, and Bathrooms. Prevo still opposes it.

A revised version of the ordinance that removes "veteran's status" and strengthens the religious and business exemptions was released on Friday. The revision, AO 2009-64(S), also states that the ordinance "does not apply to discrimination because of one's biological gender in matters such as access to restrooms…"

Equality Works explains the problem with legislating bathroom use in their assessment of the revised ordinance:
"We feel that excluding transgender people from the right to use the restroom in which they feel most safe and comfortable is not only unnecessary, but an irresponsible public policy choice that endangers lives... We sincerely hope [for] an ordinance that respects everyone's right to safe use of public restrooms and is based on facts rather than fiction and fear."
But opponents to the ordinance fill their collection plates by pedaling fiction and fear. The response from Jerry Prevo's site was immediate:
"NEW!!! A revised version of the sexual orientation ordinance has been released by the acting Mayor. Supposedly, it is to prevent some of the problems we have raised. However, the term "sexual orientation" is not acceptable in any discrimination ordinance. The first ordinance shows what the homosexual movement really wants. We must say NO to the inclusion of homosexuality in any discrimination ordinance. Please encourage the Assembly to vote NO on this ordinance and do not amend Anchorage's discrimination ordinance to include homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle. This will eventually lead to homosexuals wanting to make homosexual marriages legal in Alaska."
To Ivan Moore and others who thought that an ordinance limited to sexual orientation would be acceptable to Prevo and his followers, the message is clear: they will not accept anything that gives us civil rights, in any form. The equal rights ordinance cannot be made acceptable to Rev. Prevo, because gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered human beings are not acceptable to him:
"I can't minister to these people. I can't tell them that Jesus Christ died for them and will forgive them just like He will an adulterer or a murderer..."
We cannot compromise with him because he is not bargaining in good faith. He is simply using the media attention to gain money and fame.

Prevo's real goal is to increase his power over our city's laws and politics. He admitted to ADN reporter Julia O'Malley that he will force a recall vote if the Assembly passes any version of equal protections for gays. He also admitted that he will use his pulpit to ruin the careers of politicians who resist his control of the city. 

The choice clear for us, our allies, and anyone who thinks that Anchorage should not be run by a fundamentalist minister. We must support an inclusive ordinance, stand firm against Prevo and take back our city.

Copyright © 2008 by Bent Alaska.