Primary election: Hollis and Ethan on LGBT rights (results)

UPDATE: Ethan Berkowitz and Diane Benson will run for Gov. & Lt.Gov. on the Democratic ticket against Republicans Sean Parnell and Mead Treadwill. The big news from Tuesday's primary election is that Tea Party candidate Joe Miller is leading Sen. Lisa Murkowski for the GOP nomination for her senate seat!

Alaska's primary election is Tuesday August 24, and the main contest on the Democratic ticket is between progressive Hollis French and moderate Ethan Berkowitz, two Anchorage LGBT allies running for Governor. Only one will take on the Republican candidate in November. How do they compare on LGBT issues?

The French campaign sent a flyer to Bent Alaska a few days ago, reminding the LGBT community of his support for partner benefits in the legislature and for the Anchorage equal rights ordinance.

The small print on the poster is paraphrased from his statement on the rights of LGBT Alaskans, posted last fall on Bent and currently posted on French's campaign website.
"A few years ago the civil rights issue being discussed in Juneau was whether same sex couples should enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples. In 2005 the Alaska Supreme Court ruled unanimously that they should, but some legislators objected, and in 2006 they introduced measures to amend our constitution to shrink the meaning of 'equal protection under the law.'
"I fought that measure as a member of the Judiciary Committee and I fought it again when it came up for a vote before the full Senate. The debate spilled over into 2007, when an advisory vote asking whether our constitution should be amended was placed on the ballot statewide and it narrowly passed. In response another constitutional amendment was introduced in the Legislature, and I was proud to help other like-minded legislators defeat it."
Yes, French is an ally. But the poster's big print claims that he is "the ONLY candidate for Governor to OPENLY support the Alaskan GLBT community." How is that true? I asked for clarification, but did not get a reply.

Ethan Berkowitz is also an ally, and he was endorsed by the national LGBT rights group HRC in 2008 because he supported same sex benefits in the legislature. His statement on the HRC endorsement was posted on Bent during that election.
"I am proud of my record on civil rights. During my ten years in the Alaska State House, I fought to protect the personal liberties enshrined in the state constitution and to defend individual civil rights against the tyranny of the majority. Those positions might not always have been popular, but they are founded in the belief that the rule of law extends constitutional rights to all Americans, and protects minorities against institutional prejudices and bigotry like racism and sexism. That's why I stood for subsistence rights. That's why I spoke out for same-sex benefits, and against changes to the state constitution. That's why I know that a better future for this state and this country means living up to the values of 'liberty and justice for all.'"
The Berkowitz statement isn't focused on LGBT rights like the French statement, but he does openly state his support. (And so did former-candidate Bob Poe.) So what's up with the "only" stuff?

Well, anyway, here's how they compare on visible support for the LGBT community:

1. The French statement in support of gay equality is on his campaign website and highlighted as an issue. The Berkowitz statement was on his website in 2008, but is not on his current site.

2. The French statement focuses on LGBT rights, discussing his support for both partner benefits and the Anchorage ordinance. The Berkowitz statement lists his support for civil rights in general, and only mentions LGBT Alaskans twice, briefly. (See the paragraph quoted above for one mention.)

3. Both supported domestic partnership benefits at the state level, and the Anchorage equal rights ordinance. Berkowitz attended the first ordinance hearings, while French issued a written statement against the mayor's veto of the ordinance. It's the same French statement linked above, and includes this on the ordinance:
"This year's effort to expand the meaning of 'equal protection' was the ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly that would have prohibited discrimination in jobs and housing based on sexual orientation, much the same way that discrimination is prohibited based on race, gender, age and religion. As we all know, the measure was vetoed by Mayor Sullivan and the Assembly was one vote short of an override. That setback for the civil rights of Alaska's citizens will someday be righted; perhaps through a citizen's initiative, or perhaps through the election of a new mayor, or through the election of one more equal-rights minded assembly member.

"Thus, the struggle goes on. The tide of history is clear, though. We are on the right side of this issue, and we will prevail."
4. The French campaign created and sent a flyer, reaching out to the LGBT community and reminding us of his support. The Berkowitz campaign didn't produce anything on LGBT issues during the current election, as far as I know.

It seems fair to say that Hollis has been more openly supportive of the LGBT community in this election, especially in writing. But the main difference between their campaigns is not about their mutual support for LGBT issues - it's about the gas pipeline and energy taxes. (Note: the link goes to an article on the ADN, which has now endorsed French.)

Either way, we will have an ally to vote for in November. Which one has the best chance of winning that election?

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