Kathy's testimony: There is indeed prejudice

In gratitude for the many speakers who testified in favor of the Anchorage equal rights ordinance, Bent Alaska is posting a Testimony series. May the wise words of our friends and neighbors heal us from the weeks of hate-filled hearings and give us strength to face the next stage of this political process.
Kathy's Testimony

I'm here to ask the Assembly to do 3 things:

First, end the hearing on AO#64. We have seen hundreds of people come forward already. You have listened to Bible readings, hymns, personal confessions, sermons, grandstanding, and copious examples of wild and "unique" logic. I have heard you accused of graft, being moral dictators, and denying parental rights. You've been threatened with everything from eternal damnation to losing your assembly seats. On what other matter of municipal business would you countenance all this?

I have watched you remain remarkably polite, attentive, and respectful in the face of this onslaught, not to mention striving to keep a straight face. You know how much work and aggravation this public hearing has brought to you. Think of the fortitude required of those of us who are the objects of so much stereotyping, vilification, and venom. I've heard these hearings described as 'municipally sanctioned gay-bashing.' Enough. You have done your duty; little new information is coming to light; we have suffered more than enough. Move to end these hearings.

Second, the parade of testifiers surely has established without a doubt that there is indeed prejudice against homosexuals in Anchorage. Some of you question whether that prejudice leads to any actual acts of discrimination. I'd like to remind you of at least two testimonies the first night of the hearings that brought forward very clear, very specific, verifiable instances of blatant discrimination. Some may find these instances easy to discount as anecdotal, or cite lack of evidence of discrimination in public records. I remind you that if these individuals approached our very own municipal Equal Rights office, they would be turned away because our ordinances do not protect them. If you do nothing else as a result of these hearings, at the very least I urge you to direct your Equal Rights Commission to begin to document claims and collect data on discrimination against LGBT individuals.

Third, it is very risky for members of the LGBT community to come forward to speak, not only at assembly meetings, but even to acknowledge their sexual orientation in daily circumstances. "So what," some people say, "my own heterosexual orientation is not a topic of discussion; homosexuals just want to flaunt their sexuality." But in fact heterosexuals speak freely of their families, friends, and activities. They can share pictures, tease a spouse in public, complain about a mate, bring spouses to company events, hold hands in public, etc., clearly showing evidence of their heterosexuality in the normal course of the day. That they can do so without worrying about an employer or landlord taking action against them for being heterosexual is an unconscious assumption on their part, a part of their normal right to freedom of speech, expression, and association. LGBT people cannot take these rights for granted. Many find their safety, job security, and very survival depends on keeping their sexual orientation hidden, themselves hidden and silenced. I would challenge any heterosexual person present to live with such restriction and not find it a violation of inalienable civil rights. I urge you, Assembly members, to support this ordinance to bring EQUIVALENT civil rights to all citizens of Anchorage.


Georgia Eliot said...

Beautiful, thank you for posting this. I plan to keep it handy for the anti-equal rights folks I encounter.

Deirdre Helfferich said...

Excellent testimony. It's so basic, yet so many people fail to see that equal rights and protection are not "special" rights. It's ridiculous. Thanks for posting this.

Andrew said...
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