Anchorage Mayor's No-Gays-Need-Apply Diversity Month

September is Mayor Sullivan's Hypocrisy... er, Diversity Month, celebrating the diverse cultures of Anchorage just two weeks after he vetoed the equal rights ordinance.

"Mayor's Diversity Month is an opportunity for the city to partner with the community to showcase diversity efforts," said the mayor.

On August 17, Sullivan showcased his diversity efforts by vetoing Ordinance 64, a measure passed by the Assembly to add sexual orientation to the city's anti-discrimination policies. The mayor's veto statement - listed on the same City of Anchorage web page as the Diversity Month announcement - cites "the absence of compelling data" and "the will of the community" as the reasons for his veto, despite the weeks of sometimes emotional testimony on the need for protections.

The Mayor's Diversity Month is made up of events and programs that "encourage dialogue, partnerships and respect for Anchorage's diverse population." The community is invited to participate in the events, which this year recognize seniors, youth, Latinos, Blacks, military women, Hawaiians, and the disabled. There are no LGBT events.

Official Definition of Diversity: "Diversity in this Administration's book means, in addition to differences based on ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability, national origin and sexual orientation, an infinite range of individuals' unique characteristics and experiences, such as communication styles, career, work, life experience, educational backgrounds and other variables... The goal of diversity awareness is to create an inclusive, respectful and equitable work environment and community."

Ordinance 64 (S-2) was a compromise measure that protected lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations, financing, and Municipal practices, but included exemptions for religious organizations, public restrooms, business costs, dress codes and gender presentation in the workplace. The anti-gay lobby, lead by the Baptist churches, continued to call gays "perverted, diseased and depraved" and opposed the ordinance despite the compromises.

The Mayor's Unity Dinner will be held on Friday, September 25, at the Hilton Anchorage Hotel. The event was called the Diversity Dinner in previous years, but Sullivan changed the name to Unity and invited Lynn Swann, ex-NFL player now an anti-gay Republican candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, as the keynote speaker. Community awards will be presented during the dinner.

"Our community is made up of many unique groups, but we all share some common values: the importance of family, quality education for our children, and safe, vibrant neighborhoods. This year's event is meant to celebrate these values while respecting the diversity that makes Anchorage such a great place to live," said Mayor Dan Sullivan.

The gay community of Anchorage has been trying to pass an equal rights ordinance for over 35 years. This summer was the third attempt. The Assembly passed it 7-4, one vote short of a veto-proof majority, and the mayor vetoed it a week later. The Assembly has 21 days to override the veto, but would need 8 votes in favor.

The Mayor's CommUNITY Award Program recognizes those businesses, organizations and individuals in Anchorage that have advanced the causes of diversity and unity.

There are three awards in the Mayor's CommUNITY Award Program:
  • The Business CommUNITY Award recognizes an Anchorage business which best represents a corporate spirit of diversity and community through hiring practices, programs, and outreach.
  • The Community and Nonprofit Organization Award is presented to the Anchorage group which best demonstrates its sustained committment to inclusive programs that enhance diversity and the community at large.
  • The Individual Award recognizes a person who actively promotes inter-group relations among diverse populations in the City.
Examples of criteria to be used while selecting award winners include:
  1. The nominee's long-term commitment to the value of building unity and diversity, including specific examples with documentation.
  2. The creation, development, promotion, organization or significant participation in events and programs that focus on diversity and community enhancement.
  3. Educational efforts in matters of diversity and community development including innovative programs/opportunities.
  4. Efforts in Collaboration with other community groups to recruit people from diverse backgrounds to increase participation by members of groups from all backgrounds.
Mail Forms (no later than September 12th) to: Municipality of Anchorage, Mayor's CommUNITY Award Program, 632 W. 6th Avenue, Suite 620, Anchorage, AK 99501.

A diverse collection of small, mid-sized and large Anchorage businesses, including CIRI, an Alaska Native Corporation, signed a public statement in support of Ordinance 64. Many Fortune 500 companies do business in Anchorage and have nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

We should nominate CIRI for the Business CommUNITY Award, and Identity for the non-profit award.

Municipality of Anchorage Diversity Council Mission and Purpose, as stated in the Diversity Council Brochure linked on the Mayor's Diversity Month page:
"The mission of the Diversity Council is to attract and embrace diversity within the workforce and greater community. Purpose: To promote our strength, which is grounded in our diversity."

"Scope of Activities:
Identify and recommend changes to procedures/programs to promote diversity;
Promote and publicize diversity;
Monitor the Council's effectiveness;
Accept employee or non-member suggestions/complaints and respond as appropriate; and,
Encourage recognition of employee involvement or support of diversity."

"The Municipality of Anchorage Celebrates Diversity!
Diversity is Not an Option — It's Our Obligation!
Diversity: Embrace the Heart of It!"
"I hereby veto AO2009-64(S-2) as amended."

September 1 is the first day of Mayor Sullivan's so-called Diversity Month, just two weeks after he vetoed the Assembly's anti-discrimination ordinance. For a national comparison, September 1 is also the first day that same-sex couples can get legally married in the state of Vermont. Six states, including Iowa, allow gay couples to get married.

To nominate an individual, business or company for a diversity award or host an event, visit the municipal website at Individuals or organizations/companies interested in hosting a diversity event should complete the events form and fax it to 343-4875. Events can be scheduled for September and October.

Can we register the Pride Conference as an official city Diversity event?

To get information, ask questions or make suggestions about the Mayor's Diversity Month, call (907) 343-4890.


akconstant said...

This event is a good one to protest and to picket. Plenty of time to organize and very high visibility and the mayor will be there. And it is timed with the National March on Washington...

akconstant said...

Plus, once they announce the winners, we should ask them to graciously decline the awards.

stefging said...

We don't know if Sullivan is planning on being there himself.
Reportedly, the keynote speaker is Lynn Swan, R candidate for Gov of Pennsylvania last year. He actively supports an anti-same sex marriage constitutional amendment there. Sullivan changed the name of the dinner, but not the month, to Unity

Identity Advocacy Team could be nominated for non-profit. The group has had a table at the dinner for the last two years, last year there was also an event on the park strip, where the group had a booth.

akconstant said...

Nominations closed August 20th as I have read.

E. Ross said...

Thanks for the extra info stefging!

Nominations sent by Sept 12, the dinner is Sept 25. Shall we host a LGBT diversity event?

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