Juneau extends senior citizen sales tax exemption to same-sex domestic partners

Sara Boesser writes from Juneau.

A wonderful thing happened in Juneau, Alaska, last night.

It brought to my mind the famous 1969 poster, "What if they gave a war and nobody came?"

What happened is, for the first time in Juneau history, a GLBT-positive ordinance came up for hearing,...and with no discussion by Assembly members, it passed unanimously. It will become law in 30 days.

Willie Anderson of PFLAG was the only one to speak — for the ordinance. Willie, myself, my parents, and two plaintiffs for the 2005 Alaska state G/L benefits lawsuit (Maureen Longworth and Lin Davis) were in the audience. But we didn't speak.

Can you believe it?! It was exactly 20 years ago I and many of you spoke for the first time before our assembly seeking an equal rights ordinance. And that was a roaring controversy, with multiple meetings hours long for people on both sides to pound away. And we didn't win then. We compromised, for a tiny step forward instead.

But now...20 years later...we didn't even have to speak. But I could feel all of us, all of you, all of our energy of years past, in the room.

Thank you all, so much, for everything you've done — we've done — together.

We have moved mountains to get to this point. And oh — how sweet it is!
Sara referred to a story in today's Juneau Empire, "City extends senior citizen sales tax exemption to same sex couples" by Sarah Day. The story begins:
The senior citizen sales tax exemption will now apply to same-sex domestic partners, allowing the city code to comply with the Alaska Constitution.

The city code previously allowed those 65 and older an exemption on city sales tax. Their spouse, regardless of age, could also receive the exemption. The wording in this code excluded same-sex domestic partners, which is unconstitutional. While same-sex marriage isn't legal in Alaska, a 2005 state Supreme Court ruling stated Alaska's Constitution prohibits excluding a specific group of people from benefits like this.

So the city had two options - include same-sex domestic partners or cancel the sales tax exemption for all seniors.
Congratulations, Juneau!

Pentagon's DADT report to be released today

Don't Ask Don't Tellby Mel Green / Crossposted at Henkimaa

Update: The DADT report will be posted at THIS LINK about 10:15 AM Alaska time.

The Pentagon Working Group's comprehensive report on gays/lesbians in the military and the possible repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell will be released today. According to the Washington Post's Federal Eye blog, the report will be officially released today at 2:30 PM Eastern time — 10:30 AM Alaska time:

The report's release caps nine months of research by [Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C.] Johnson, [Army Gen. Carter F.] Ham and a 66-member team that met with more than 40 groups representing gay and lesbian troops, gay veterans, military spouses and the same-sex partners of closeted gay troops.
Some findings of the report have already been publicized after leaks in the Washington Post earlier this month. Among them:
According to a survey sent to 400,000 service members, 69 percent of those responding reported that they had served with someone in their unit who they believed to be gay or lesbian. Of those who did, 92 percent stated that their unit's ability to work together was very good, good, or neither good nor poor, according to the sources.

Combat units reported similar responses, with 89 percent of Army combat units and 84 percent of Marine combat units saying they had good or neutral experiences working with gays and lesbians.
The report's coauthors — Defense Department General Counsel Jeh C. Johnson and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham — along with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen are scheduled to testify Thursday, December 2, before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Meanwhile, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) planned to hold a national media conference call at 11:00 AM Eastern time (7:00 AM Alaska time) this morning, according to a media advisory released yesterday. SLDN is a leading advocate for LGBT servicemembers, and its site is a good source of news and information about the ongoing fight for open service in the military.

SLDN issued another press release today about an online message from open service advocate Lady Gaga on repeal of DADT:
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), a national, legal services and policy organization dedicated to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), announced today that Lady Gaga released an online video message directed to her supporters and followers to push for repeal in the senate lame-duck session. Re-tweet Gaga now: RT @LadyGaga A message from Gaga http://bit.ly/g8cI68
Here's the video:

Key senators who need to hear from repeal supporters:
  • Harry Reid (D-NV)
  • Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
  • Mark Pryor (D-AR)
  • Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
  • Richard Lugar (R-IN)
  • Judd Gregg (R-NH)
  • Scott Brown (R-MA)
  • George Voinovich (R-OH)
  • Kit Bond (R-MO)
  • Joe Manchin (D-WV)
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Mark Kirk (R-IL)
  • James Webb (D-VA
Lisa Murkowski last week told KTVA's Matt Felling that "I would not oppose the Defense Authorization bill because Don't Ask Don't Tell, the repeal of it, is included within it" — but statements during and since then from Sen. Murkowski and her staff have made it clear that her "non-opposition" is far from equivalent to "support" for a repeal, and comes with some qualifications.

Make sure to let her know that equality under the law for LGBT citizens, including LGBT servicemembers, is important to you:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski
202-224-6665 (DC)
877-829-6030 (toll free)

or write:

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
709 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Sara's News Roundup 11/28/10

Recent LGBT news selected by Sara Boesser in Juneau, Alaska.

1) World AIDS Day [Dec. 1, 2010] theme: Universal Access and Human Rights

2) Listen: Gay Grandma Tells Love Story
Los Angeles, Advocate, November 25, 2010

3) Lesbian cadet who quit seeks return to West Point
Findlay, Ohio, Associated Press, November 26, 2010

4) German Zoo Attempts to Re-Orient Gay Vultures
Germany, Time, November 26, 2010

5) A journey for her peers
Houston, Houston Chronicle, November 19, 2010

6) The kids are all right? Not according to the lesbian lobby
The Independent, November 23, 2010

7) High Suicide Risk, Prejudice Plague Transgender People
Live Science, November 19, 2010

8) Marines most resistant to openly gay troops
Oceanside, Calif., Associated Press, November 27, 2010

9) Dawn of the flexisexual: The new word for the women who refuse to play it straight
Daily Mail, November 27, 2010

10) TSA Screening Reveals Transgender People's Experiences for All of Us
Huffington Post, November 24, 2010

11) Thank God I’m Gay
South Florida Gay News, November 23, 2010

12) Going Legal in Russia ~ St. Petersburg holds first sanctioned gay pride demo
St. Petersburg, Russia, Gay City News, November 24, 2010

13) F to M trans anchor says "It get's better"
Denver, Colorado, 9News

14) Kimpton most visible hotel group among gay, lesbian travelers
USA Today, November 26, 2010

World AIDS Day events in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau

World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1 to remember those we have lost to HIV/AIDS, to honor those still living with the disease, and to commemorate the theme of universal access and human rights.

Events including candlelight vigils are scheduled in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. Click through on the city names to RSVP organizers about your intentions to attend.


  • Day/time: Wednesday, December 1 · 6:00–9:00 PM
  • Location: Out North, 3800 DeBarr Road
  • Sponsor: Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association (Four A's)
  • Info: Join us for our annual World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil to remember and honor all who are affected by HIV/AIDS. Vigil begins at 6 p.m. then afterward at 7 p.m. there will be a free showing of the movie "Life Support" starring Queen Latifah.
  • Day/time: Wednesday, December 1, 4:00–7:00 PM
  • Location: Interior AIDS Association (710 3rd. Ave.) with candlelight walk to 101 Dunkel St. (Morris Thompson Center)
  • Sponsor: Interior AIDS Association (IAA)
  • Info: December 1, 2010 Potluck, art, and open house from 4-5:30pm at the Interior AIDS Association. Candlelight walk at 5:30 from IAA 710 3rd Avenue to the Morris Thompson Cultural Center Theatre 101 Dunkel Street. We will have Anna Nelson, executive director of IAA opening and guest speaker Dr. Saltonstall from Anchorage and Father Scott from St. Matthews Episcopal Church. Other speakers TBA. Everyone is welcome to bring a dish to share for the potluck and don't forget to dress warmly for the walk. Remember, this is Fairbanks and it will probably be cold!
  • Day/time: Wednesday, December 1 · 6:30–9:30 PM
  • Location: Baranof Hotel/Rendezvous
  • Sponsor: Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association (Four A's)
  • Info: Join us for our annual World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil in Juneau at the Baranof Hotel, beginning at 6:30 p.m. then come over to the Rendezvous for a free showing of "Rent" at 8 p.m.

"Two Truths and a Lie" benefits Out North

As we wrote last week, Out North needs our help. A national funder representing one-third of Out North's budged has “changed direction," and Out North need to raise money in order to keep giving us all the top-notch stuff they've been giving us for the past 25 years.

One way you can help is to visit Out North's blog and hit the "Donate" button.

Or, you can attend one, or even both, of Out North's performances this weekend of Scott Turner Schofield's "Two Truths and a Lie" -- all proceeds of which will benefit Out North.

Friday, Nov. 26 and Saturday, Nov. 27
8:00 PM

Tickets available only at the box office at Out North.

$20 door

$15 60+ and Military
$13 Student rush (15 mins before the show)

Double it and stay for STS DJ dance party afterwards!

(Even if you don't stay for the dance, please feel free to help Out North
further by doubling the price of your ticket.)

Here's how Out North describes this great program, written and performed by Out North's award-winning artistic director, Scott Turner Schofield:

Two Truths and a Lie is a memoir passing as three solo plays written and performed by Scott Turner Schofield. From inside his young life on the Homecoming Court and Debutante Ball circuit (in a dress), armed with only a decoder ring and a gifted tongue, Schofield comes out with truly unbelievable stories of a body in search of an identity. By turns slapstick and slap-to-the-face, this drama invites audiences and readers to explore gender, sex, sexuality, and self in their own first person.

In performance, the book comes alive in the style of a "choose your own adventure" story where audiences choose which stories they want to hear. Warm, funny, multi-media tales ensue to answer all the questions about one transgender person you always wanted to know.

Sara's News Roundup 11/22/10

Recent LGBT news selected by Sara Boesser in Juneau, Alaska.

1) Poll: Gay People Coming Out Earlier
U.K., Advocate, November 15, 2010

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, FORGE, Revised: 08/20/02

3) Lesbian family film "Kids" elbows into Oscar race
New York, Reuters, November 17, 2010

4) Acceptance of GW transgender basketball player a good life lesson
Sports Illustrated, November 16, 2010

5) Retired O-5 films lives of gay academy grads
Navy Times, November 22, 2010

6) Mormons Soften Language On Gays
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Tribune, November 13, 2010

7) Theologian says much of clergy is gay
Germany, Irish Times, November 22, 2010

8) Poll: Australians for Marriage Equality
Australia, Advocate, November 21, 2010

9) Transgender Candidate Wins Judicial Race
California, Advocate, November 16, 2010

10) Study: Source of Golden Rule reminder affects Christian attitudes about gay, lesbian people
Charlottesville, Virginia, Newsleader.com, October 26, 2010

11) Catholic school paper deletes student editorials on Catholic DVD, gay teens
St. Louis Park, Minn., Minnesota Public Radio, November 16, 2010

12) Navajo transgender shares story
New Mexico, Daily Lobo, November 16, 2010

13) Gates to release 'don't ask' report to enable Senate hearings
Washington, Washington Post, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve in Anchorage

Two free Thanksgiving Eve events in Anchorage this Wednesday evening.

Eve's Family and Friends Community Thanksgiving Dinner
Event info on Facebook

At the Raven: 4:30-6:30 PM
At the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Anchorage (GLCCA): 5:00-7:00 PM
At Mad Myrna's: 5:30-7:30 PM

The event is free, but donations are welcomed and will benefit the GLCCA.

More on GLCCA's portion of the evening:

The GLCCA is thrilled to be able to offer a family friendly Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday evening, Nov. 24, from 5 – 7 pm. We will be using the space next door at the YWCA for this meal. Please join us for turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and other Thanksgiving classics. If there is anything special that you want to have on your plate feel free to bring a dish to share and place it on the table. This event is free and specially designed for families or those who prefer an alcohol free atmosphere.

336 E. 5th Avenue, (info@identityinc.org) or 929-4528

The GLCCA will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 25.

Wild Turkey Night at Bernies' Bungalow Lounge
Event info on Facebook

Wednesday, November 24 at 9:30pm - November 25 at 12:30am

Join us and Wild Turkey in supporting the Food Bank of Alaska!

Here's the run down: Come out on the 24th, and we'll drink some Wild Turkey! Every $5 donation to the Food Bank of Alaska will get a chance to win a take home THANKSGIVING DINNER FROM MARX BROTHERS good for 8 PEOPLE!

Bottom line, we drink, raise money for a good cause and someone gets a (semi-) free turkey dinner without all the work!

Murkowski: "I will not oppose the Defense Authorization bill if DADT repeal is part of it"

Don't Ask Don't Tellby Mel Green / Crossposted at Henkimaa.com

A friend who has spoken with Sen. Lisa Murkowski told me that she'd directly said to him, "We're going to fight for your issues."

But as shown in comments broadcast last night on Anchorage's CBS affiliate, KTVA Channel 11 ( previewed at the Think Progress's The Wonk Room earlier in the day [Ref #1]), the closest she's able to come in public to saying what she said privately to my friend is more along the lines of, "I'm not going to fight you on your issues."

And clearly she sees them as "our issues" — not her own. Equality under the law for the homosexual community (the term she uses; transfolk are not mentioned) does not seem, in her eyes, to be the same as plain and simple equality under the law for all citizens.

So I caution people not to characterize Sen. Murkowski's comments last night to KTVA Channel 11's Matt Felling as "support" for repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Her actual words were, "I would not oppose the Defense Authorization bill because Don't Ask Don't Tell, the repeal of it, is included within it." It's not just semantics: to not oppose is not the same as to support. A person can not oppose, for example, by abstaining.

But when it comes to votes in Congress... well, I suppose that's better than a "no" vote.

Below is the video from KTVA Channel 11 News. Matthew Felling introduced the segment referring to the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is "thinking about bringing to a vote." Repeal of DADT is part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Senate authorization of NDAA was halted on September 21 by a Republican filibuster led by antigay former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain. [Ref #2] Sen. Murwkowski was not present at the vote — the only senator not present — because she was campaigning in Alaska. [Ref #3] Sen. Murkowski has previously indicated that her decision on Don't Ask Don't Tell was partially dependent on results of the Pentagon's comprehensive report on DADT. The Pentagon review is due for release in early December, but portions have already been leaked to the press.

A transcript of Sen. Murkowski's comments (corrected from the somewhat loose transcript at KTVA's site) are below the video. [Ref #4]

Video: "Murkowski "I Would Not Oppose... DADT Repeal"

Matthew Felling:

You have been waiting to hear from them, and they have said -- at least according to the polls that are out there, that have been leaked -- they're okay with it. Procedural behind the scenes things [notwithstanding]... are you more likely to vote for a bill saying "I hear them. And if they're okay with it, I'm okay with it?"
Sen. Murkowski:
And I have said that I would work to make sure that as long as it is supported by the troops, as long as it doesn't hurt the performance or the morale, or the recruitment -- these are all things that we want to take into consideration -- I think we will see that play out in this report. If in fact Don't Ask Don't Tell is included in the Defense Authorization and we get to the point where we can move that bill through — I would not oppose the Defense Authorization bill because Don't Ask Don't Tell, the repeal of it, is included within it. I have made the statement to others, that we are at a different point in time, if you will. There is, more clearly, a level of acceptance in our communities, at all levels of supporting and providing for that level of equality to the homosexual community. And I think that's important to recognize that.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (an independent, formerly a Democrat) announced yesterday during a press conference flanked by 12 Democrats that he was confident there were enough votes to repeal DADT, and named Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Richard Lugar of Indiana as "yes" votes on NDAA and repeal of DADT. [Ref #5] The Washington Blade reported that another Republican, Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, would also vote to repeal DADT. [Ref #6] So if Sen. Murkowski is good on her word, it seems that there are at least four Republican senators willing to cross party lines to repeal DADT... if only, in Murkowski's case, because "a level of acceptance in our communities... for that level of equality" has been reached.

Make sure to let her know that equality under the law for LGBT citizens, including LGBT servicemembers, is important to you:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski
202-224-6665 (DC)
877-829-6030 (toll free)

or write:

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski
709 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

And be sure to also call Sen. Mark Begich to thank him and encourage him in his ongoing support for equality:

Sen. Mark Begich
202-224-3004 (DC)
877-501-6275 (toll free)

One good source of recent news on repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell is the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Support LGBT servicemembers. Repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Recent DADT posts

I have recently become an ongoing contributor to Alaska's most important LGBT blog, Bent Alaska. Here's a list of recent stories on DADT both on Bent Alaska and my own blog, Henkimaa:


  1. 11/18/10. "Sen. Lisa Murkowski Tells Local TV She Will Vote For Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal" by Igor Volsky (The Wonk Room, Think Progress).
  2. 9/22/10. "Senate halts 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal" by Ted Barrett and Dana Bash (CNN).
  3. 9/21/10. "Murkowski misses vote on 'don't ask, don't tell'" by Joshua Saul (Alaska Dispatch).
  4. 11/18/10. "Murkowski "I Would Not Oppose... DADT Repeal" by Matt Felling (KTVA Channel 11 News).
  5. 11/18/10. "Lieberman on DADT: We Have 60" by Kerry Eleveld (The Advocate).
  6. 11/18/10. "Sen. Ensign to support ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal: source" by Chris Johnson (Washington Blade).

Interior AIDS Association: Three Fairbanks events

Three upcoming events from the Interior AIDS Association!

This Friday, November 19th, join us at Pike's Waterfront Lodge in the Binkley Room for the 2nd Annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction fundraiser - sponsored by the UAF Pre-Med Society. Tickets are available at Gulliver's Books and at IAA. You can also buy them on line on the IAA website - www.interioraids.org. See details on the Events page. Students: $15, Adults $20, Couples $35. $25 at the door.

Wednesday, December 1st is World AIDS Day. Meet at IAA for a potluck and preview of First Friday artwork from 4:00 to 5:30 pm. Then, we will do our traditional candlelight walk from IAA to the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor's Center (15-20 minute walk). The program will begin at about 6:00 pm in the Theater. Our featured speaker is Dr. Elizabeth Saltonstall, MD. She is the HIV expert in Alaska!

Friday, December 3rd is IAA's official first First Friday. Join us at 710 3rd Ave from 6-8pm. Several local artists will be displaying their work. There is also some parking in the back (709 2nd ave. - across from Gambardella's).

DADT: Murkowski, update from HRC, and Maddow & the Daily Show take down McCain

Don't Ask Don't TellTony Wagner of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), who was in Alaska last week, reports that,

[H]undreds of HRC members and repeal supporters have emailed and phoned Sen. Murkowski in the past 10 days lobbying her to do the right thing on this issue (and I delivered nearly 250 petition signatures on Monday).

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the White House are both making it clear that DADT needs to be acted on during the lame duck session of Congress. (See press release from HRC below.)
That doesn't mean it's time to ease off. In fact, comments made last night by Sen. Murkowski to MSNBC's Chris Hayes show it's still important to keep the pressure up on Sen. Murkowski:

So if you haven't done so already, please give Sen. Murkowski a call, and let Sen. Begich also know we're also counting on him. Tell them:
“Hi, my name’s [NAME] and I live in [TOWN]. I support all our servicemembers and they deserve to have the National Defense Authorization Act passed this year with funding for our troops, pay increases and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell included. I urge Sen. Murkowski/Sen. Begich to vote for cloture and final passage of this bill.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
202-224-6665 (DC)
877-829-6030 (toll free)

Sen. Mark Begich
202-224-3004 (DC)
877-501-6275 (toll free)

Additionally, for those who have previously taken action, HRC is asking them to write letters to the editor:
Please write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper today and urge Sen. Murkowski to vote to proceed with and pass the NDAA. Our online tools make it easy to send your letter to the editor, so click here to get started!

The NDAA also provides many appropriations near and dear to Alaskans' hearts. Things such as a $10.2 billion allocation for Missile Defense programs is important to many Alaskans – as is troop pay raises, funding for IED countermeasures and mine resistant/better armored vehicles. Alaskans know funding these programs saves the lives of all our soldiers.

Writing a letter to your local newspaper is a great way to make sure that Sen. Murkowski and others in your community know that there’s strong support for the bill. Don’t wait any longer – click here to start RIGHT NOW!
Here's yesterday's press release from the Human Rights Campaign on Don't Ask Don't Tell:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2010
HRC: Fred Sainz | fred.sainz@hrc.org | Phone: 202-716-1651
SLDN: Trevor Thomas | trevor@sldn.org | Phone: 616-430-2030
CAP Action Fund: Winnie Stachelberg | wstachelberg@americanprogress.org | Phone: 202-481-7152

Senate Majority Leader and White House Reaffirm Commitment
to DADT Repeal in Defense Authorization Bill This Year

WASHINGTON – Key Senate leadership and Administration officials this evening met with representatives of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), and the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF). The officials told the groups that Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama are committed to moving forward on repeal by bringing the National Defense Authorization Act – the bill to which “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal is attached – to the floor in the lame duck session after the Thanksgiving recess. Further the Majority Leader and the President made clear their opposition to removing the DADT provision from the NDAA. Information on the exact timing and procedural conditions will be announced by the Majority Leader’s office.

Present at the meeting with representatives from HRC, SLDN and CAPAF were: Jim Messina, Deputy White House Chief of Staff; Phil Schiliro, White House Director of Legislative Affairs; Chris Kang, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs; Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; David Krone, Chief of Staff to Majority Leader Reid; and Serena Hoy, Senior Counsel to Majority Leader Reid.
McCain taken down by Maddow & the Daily Show

And finally, Sarah Palin's running mate from 2008, Sen. John McCain, has walked back further and further from his past support for repeal of DADT. Now, McCain stands as perhaps the most virulent opponent and obstacle to removing this unjust law. On Monday, Stephen Benet wrote in his post "McCain Moves the goal posts" on the blog Political Animal:

Note the evolving excuses McCain has used to justify his anti-gay attitudes:

We can't repeal DADT until the Secretary of Defense says it's a good idea. Oh, he does?

Well then we can't repeal DADT until the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff says it's a good idea. Oh, he's on board, too?

Well then we can't repeal DADT until we've surveyed servicemen and women, asking their opinion on the policy. They're fine with repeal, too?

Well then we can't repeal DADT until we've studied the survey results for months.

That evening, Rachel Maddow did a scorching analysis of McCain's flip floppery not only on DADT, but on numerous other issues. "One of my favorite political conflict stories of all time," Maddow said, "is the sharp, bitter, decisive, at times inhumanely polarizing political conflict between John McCain and John McCain." See at 3:08 when he first condemns Jerry Falwell as "an agent of intolerance," but then changes his mind. Discussion of Don't Ask Don't Tell starts at about 5:05.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

And Jon Stewart and the Daily Show followed up with a masterful takedown of McCain. Enjoy.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
It Gets Worse PSA
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

"Debutante Balls" benefits Out North

Out North Contemporary Art House has been presenting cutting edge visual, performing, literary and media art in Anchorage for a quarter of a century -- also engaging in arts activism, human rights, community development, and life-long education. Since its founding in 1985, Out North has provided a forum for underrepresented artists, especially artists with disabilities, artists of color, LGBTQ artists, and artists whose work pushes traditional boundaries of aesthetics and content.

Out North needs our help. As described on Out North's blog, a national funder representing one-third of Out North's budged has “changed direction," and Out North need to raise money in order to keep giving us all the top-notch stuff they've been giving us for the past 25 years. Stuff like --

  • Showcasing the work of artists from marginalized communities through artistic collaborations with organizations like Hope Community 
Resources, the NAACP, Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Alaska Immigration Justice Project, Alzheimer’s Resource Center and Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.
  • Providing drama programs at Begich Middle School, East High School, Stellar Secondary School and McLaughlin Youth Center.
  • Preserving culture and instilling confidence for Hmong refugee youth through its award winning Khaen music program.
  • The seventeen year long community storytelling collaboration, Under :30.
One way you can help is to visit Out North's blog and hit the "Donate" button.

Another way is to attend this Friday's performance of "Debutante Balls," all proceeds of which will benefit Out North.

Friday, November 19 ONLY!
8:00 PM

Tickets available only at the box office at Out North.

$20 door

$15 60+ and Military
$13 Student rush (15 mins before the show)

Double it and stay for STS DJ dance party afterwards!

(Even if you don't stay for the dance, please feel free to help Out North
further by doubling the price of your ticket.)

Here's how Out North describes this great program, written and performed by Out North's award-winning artistic director, Scott Turner Schofield:

"Debutante Balls" is a theatrical stand-up comedy dance through the fascinating culture of the Southern Debutante Ball. Schofield's wicked sense of self-aware humor and poetic sensibility guide us gently (or is that genteel-ly?) through the many ways he "came out" into Southern Society (as a lesbian, radical feminist, and finally, as a transgender man), poking fun at gender roles and sniffing the vapors of nostalgia gone-with-the-wind in these modern times. Applauded by Judith (Jack) Halberstam and the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity alike, this is a generous, insightful, not-to-be-missed solo show.
An excerpt can be viewed on YouTube.

Scott will also be presenting two performances of "Two Truths and a Lie" on November 26-27, proceeds of which will also benefit Out North.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Tonight the University of Alaska Anchorage Women's Studies Program will be holding a round table discussion honoring Transgender Day of Remembrance and those lives lost to violence. All are welcome.

November 17, 2010
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
UAA Consortium Library, Room 307

Candlelight vigil will follow immediately after the discussion.

Coming Out: A Work in Progress in Fairbanks this weekend

Revive the Red Tent Productions would like to invite you to an evening in three parts:

  • “A Midnight Clear” by L.B. Hamilton
  • “Quintessential Image” by Jane Chambers
  • “Tree House” by Heather Warren
Sponsored by PFLAG Fairbanks and the North Star Community Foundation, this exciting night is Revive the Red Tent’s first installment of theatre dedicated to representing the LGBTQ community. Consisting of two one-act plays and a performative reading, the theme of the evening is centered upon the struggle of “coming out.” “A Midnight Clear” and “The Quintessential Image” are traditional one-act plays, in both the audience encounters characters struggling to make sense of their choices. “Tree House”, a piece written by local author, Heather Warren, is a semi-abstracted performance of a short story.

This theatrical production is primarily produced, designed, and performed by members of the local LGBTQ community. Performances will be at Dance Theatre Fairbanks on Nov. 19th and 20th at 8 p.m. Admission is $10.00 (more if you can, less if you can’t) and seating is limited. The show is not recommended for children under the age of 14.

Libby Roderick benefit for PFLAG Fairbanks

Libby Roderick performs a benefit concert for PFLAG Fairbanks on Friday, November 19 at 8:00 PM. A limited number of tickets is available. Proceeds benefit PFLAG activities and the UU welcoming congregation. The concert will be held at the Unitarian Universalist church sanctuary (across the street from the Princess Hotel). The hall holds 150, so seating is limited. The UU is a welcoming congregation. *$32 each* cash or check only. Call 45-PFLAG pflagfairbanks@gmail.com.

URGENT: Call Sens. Begich and Murkowski on DADT now!

A message from Tony Wagner of the Human Rights Campaign, who was in Alaska this past week:


Thank you all for your insight into the LGBT community in Alaska and the political lay of the land. It’s been a pleasure. I wanted to send an update with the latest info regarding DADT repeal and where we stand.

It looks like the leaked information about the positive outcome from the Pentagon’s implementation study is having a good effect on wavering legislators and the possibility of repealing DADT this year is gaining momentum. That said, we still have a long ways to go. Congress will return for their lame duck session starting on Monday and we want to send members, including Sen. Murkowski, a strong message that the National Defense Authorization Act should be debated and passed during the lame duck, with the repeal language intact. So we’re asking folks to call Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Begich on Monday or Tuesday THIS WEEK and deliver this message:

“Hi, my name’s [NAME] and I live in [TOWN]. I support all our servicemembers and they deserve to have the National Defense Authorization Act passed this year with funding for our troops, pay increases and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell included. I urge Sen. Murkowski/Sen. Begich to vote for cloture and final passage of this bill.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
202-224-6665 (DC)
877-829-6030 (toll free)

Sen. Mark Begich
202-224-3004 (DC)
877-501-6275 (toll free)

With so much at stake and so little time to get the job done, this is really an all hands on deck moment. If possible, please send this message to your lists, post to your facebook pages, blogs, etc. The alert pasted below is draft text of a national alert (separated by state) HRC will be launching on Monday. With all of us pitching in and working together, we can have the impact needed to move the ball forward and repeal DADT this year.

Thank you again and I look forward to continuing our work together for advancing equality here in Alaska and around the country.


Tony Wagner

Western Regional Field Director | Human Rights Campaign
1640 Rhode Island Ave, NW | Washington, DC 20009
202.772.3888 (o) | 202.459.3298 (c)
tony.wagner@hrc.org | www.hrc.org

Here's the draft of the national alert being issued tomorrow, referred to in Tony's letter:

URGENT: Calls needed on DADT now!

The push to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has reached a fever pitch. And this week could make or break it.

Years of work could boil down to what happens this week. The Senate's "lame duck" session began yesterday – our last, best hope to end the discrimination this year.

When the new Congress shows up in January, the House will be under staunchly anti-LGBT leadership. We have no time to waste.

Today, as we launch full-page newspaper ads across the country, we need tens of thousands of supporters to back up those ads by telling every single senator to end the discrimination NOW!

Call both your senators now – Sen. Lisa Murkowski at (202) 224-6665 and Sen. Mark Begich at (202) 224-3004 – and tell them "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" must end BEFORE you leave and the new Congress takes over.

The last time the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" came up for a vote in the Senate, Sen. John McCain led Republicans in a filibuster of the national defense spending bill that contains the repeal. They blocked it from an up-or-down vote – even though nearly 8 in 10 Americans now favor repealing the law.

Before time runs out, we need Senate Democrats to bring the defense bill to the floor and we need Republicans to stop threatening to derail the entire thing – including critical military equipment and pay raises – just to keep this discriminatory law on the books.

Is it just me, or is it completely absurd that Senate Republicans would hold troops' funding hostage, just so they can ensure that lesbian and gay soldiers have to keep lying or be fired?

The ads we're launching today call out this hypocrisy for what it is: bigotry masked as patriotism.

It's critical that every single senator hears from us today. Even if your senators are already with us on this issue they need to know that their constituents have their backs as they stand up for what's right.

And no matter where your senators stand, speaking out today sends a bold message: It's going to take a lot more than a few anti-gay leaders in Congress to make us give up this fight. As long as injustice is written into our laws, we will not rest.

Call Sen. Lisa Murkowski at (202) 224-6665 and Sen. Mark Begich at (202) 224-3004 and tell them to act this week.

Momentum for repeal is high. President Obama has called on the Senate to act during this short session – an important first step of the many needed for him to fulfill the pledge he made in the State of the Union to end this law. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and military chaplains are also speaking out.

Still, repealing this law is no easy task. But if brave men and women are willing to risk their lives while hiding who they are, we must be unafraid to fail – and always, unceasingly, unafraid to fight.

Never giving up,

Joe Solmonese

Sara's News Roundup 11/14/10

Recent LGBT news selected by Sara Boesser in Juneau, Alaska.

1) Frank: ‘Zero chance’ for LGBT bills next year
Washington, Washington Blade, November 8, 2010

2) Sources: Pentagon group finds there is minimal risk to lifting gay ban during war
Washington, D.C., Washington Post, November 11, 2010

3) Coming to grips with an intersex adventure
Brisbane, Australia, Brisbane Times, November 3, 2010

4) My Take: Let’s aim for respect in post-election America
CNN, November 9, 2010

5) Fox Files: Transgender Youth
Kirkwood, MO, Fox2now.cm, November 9, 2010

6) Study: Lesbian Moms Don't Abuse Kids
Advocate, November 10, 2010

7) An Interview with Charles Robbins, CEO of The Trevor Project
JohnShore.com, September 28, 2010

8) About 12 percent of students identify as gay or bisexual
Providence, Rhode Island, Brown Daily Herald, November 12, 2010

9) Catherine Ryan Hyde's latest novel deals with transgender issues
San Luis Obispo, Tribune, November 8, 2010

10) Hawaii positioned to pass same-sex civil unions
Honolulu, Hawaii, Washington Post, November 6, 2010

11) Kye Allums and transgender athletes can have surgery and play in NCAA
OutSports.com, November 9, 2010

2) Gay bishop says he is not retiring, just resigning post
Los Angeles, McClatchy-Tribune , November 9, 2010

13) ACLU challenging half-pay for discharged gays
Albuquerque, N.M., 365Gay.com, November 12, 2010

14) Straight spouses advocate same-sex marriage
San Francisco, USA Today, September 14, 2009

15) When your partner comes out as Transsexual
Lesbian Life

16) Express Yourself: A Major New Showcase Of Gay Portraiture
Washington, NPR, November 2010

LGBT veterans and DADT: True stories from I'm from Driftwood

In honor of Veteran's Day, true stories of military life and Don't Ask Don't Tell from I'm from Driftwood.

And don't forget that the The I'm From Driftwood Story Tour is in Alaska right now, and will be holding a fundraiser tonight from 7:00 to 9:00 PM at Mad Myrna's in Anchorage. Even if you can't make it, you can submit your own true story and/or donate to I'm from Driftwood to assist in IFD's efforts to help LGBT youth realize they’re not alone.

These are story excerpts; follow the links to read each story in full.

Matt R. from Spring, Texas:

I yelled at my Soldiers to return fire and stepped out of my cover to shoot back. We drove them away with a hail of bullets and somehow, we all managed to make it out without a scratch.... I received an Army Commendation Medal with Valor and a Bronze Star Medal for what I did in Iraq. Externally, I was brave. A hero. Internally, I was a coward. Hidden in the closet.
Matt R. from Colorado Springs, Colorado:
Nick and I sat as close together as we could without raising any eyebrows, chain smoking Marlboro Reds in silence. Occassionally he and I made eye contact and mouthed the words, “I love you,” to each other, after checking for witnesses. Then we went back to our cigarettes and silence. On the outside I showed no emotion, I was just a friend here to see him off because no one from his family made it. I wore sunglasses so no one could look at my swollen, red eyes.... I wanted to tell him just one more time in person, “Come back to me. In one piece. I’ll be here, while you’re there, waiting… For you.” Instead, I smoked and silently mouthed I love you while I held back the tears that I’m not allowed to show the world.
Anonymous from Dearborn, Michigan:
My lieutenant, a five-foot-two Latina, was scaring the crap out of all of us. Between her rank and how she was screaming now, we were all being overpowered.

“If you have anything – anything – you want to say to somebody about being of a certain sexual orientation, about being a certain race, religion, gender – I don’t care. If you want to say it – say it to me. Apparently we have someone who likes writing hate mail to shipmates. Whoever you are, know that I will find you and you will be punished. So let this be a lesson to all of you here: if you want to tell a shipmate to Die, Fag, say it to my face first. Because guess what - you’re going to be admitting it to me at Captain’s Mast soon enough.”...

Sometimes, the Navy really does stand for excellence and the fair treatment of all. When it does, it’s because sailors are standing with it.

Ryan B. from Kewanee, Illinois:
I don’t think it’s okay for the gay community to be limited in how open they are in the military, but I do think that, as an unimportant factor in this case, it makes sense not to worry about it. What’s really important is personal development, the reason why I’ve chosen to follow this path in my life, serving as a member of the U.S. Marine Core as a gay teenager.
Hubert Dorsett from Bolger, Texas:
While in Destroyer School at Newport, I met the first man I would love and have a relationship with. He was a playwright from New York City, living near Provincetown, MA, and because of my feelings for him and because I had been the subject of several investigations by Naval Investigative Service, I decided to end my Navy career and resign my commission. In doing so I lost the first man I loved and I gave up a career that I loved, because I really did (and still do) love the Navy and all that it stood for, except of course for the policy on homosexuals.
Peter Yacobellis from New Hyde Park, New York:
This loose acceptance of a possibility that I could be “cured” was probably one of many reasons I pursued a career in the military. I suppose I hoped that the strictly heterosexual environment would “help”. I soon realized, being in an all-male unit, that my same-sex attraction was very real and not going to go away. I knew that I could easily comply with rules against engaging in intimacy that exist for everyone in basic training. But what was becoming clearer was what life would be like after basic training. I realized that after training, other airmen would be allowed to have intimate relationships and that I wouldn’t be able to have one with another male.
Zackariah Gonzales from Boise, Idaho:
It took three years of legal and administrative action, thousands of pages of documents, research and emails and a trip to Washington D.C. before the United States Coast Guard Discharge Review Board came to a final ruling. In 5-0 decision they ruled that the Command had violated provisions of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and did not follow Coast Guard policy on discharge proceedings, my rights under the Uniform Code of Military Justice were violated, I was not afforded adequate legal representation and my discharge was illegal. They ordered that my discharge reason be changed from “homosexual conduct” to “general reasons” they also ordered that I be allowed to reenlist if I choose. The Commandant of the Coast Guard overruled my reinstatement, but let the rest of the decision stand.

My name is Zackariah Gonzales, I am from Boise, Idaho, I was fired for being gay from the U.S. Armed Forces and I will not stop telling my story until the ban is lifted.

Honoring LGBT veterans, and a Veteran's Day message from Alaskans Together

Today is Veteran's Day. Throughout the country, Americans are joining together to express their appreciation for the service and sacrifice of American veterans.

Let us include in the number the innumerable gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender veterans who have served us and our nation, all too often only to be "thanked" by being forcibly discharged under the draconian policies of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the discriminatory policies which preceded it.

Thank you, LGBT veterans, for your service. We do not forget you.

This Veterans Day, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is launching a special video to recognize the contributions of our patriots — past and present, LGBT and straight. Watch it now and visit www.sldn.org to find out how you can honor all our service members by helping us repeal the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law.

And now, a message from Alaskans Together:

With the elections behind us and everyone talking about what's going to happen next year in Congress, it's easy to forget that the work of the current Congress is not yet finished. The U.S. House voted earlier this year to repeal the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). But we still need the Senate to take action before the year ends.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has the opportunity to prove again that she represents ALL Alaskans. In 2009, she voted for the NDAA, which included the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Now, in 2010, she can again vote for that same bill which funds our military and will also repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

In anticipation that the US Senate will revisit this issue during the "lame duck" session of Congress before the end of the year, Alaskans Together For Equality, Inc., the ACLU of Alaska, the Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network are joining forces to mobilize support for the bill, and HRC is sending Regional Field Director Tony Wagner to the state to help coordinate the effort.

Tony arrived on November 9th in Anchorage and will remain in the state until November 16th. While on the ground, he will need the support of all those who believe in equality to apply the needed pressure to convince Sen. Murkowski that passing this legislation this year is the right thing to do. To help us with our efforts, you can email Tony directly at Tony.Wagner@hrc.org or contact Alaskans Together at alaskanstogether@gmail.com.

Tony, board members from Alaskans Together for Equality, Inc. and representatives from the ACLU of Alaska will also be available to meet and speak with equality supporters about our efforts during two meet and greets.

Thursday, November 11th | 5:30 - 7 p.m.
Residence of Pete Pinney | 814 6th Ave. | Fairbanks

Friday, November 12th | 7 - 8 p.m.
Mad Myrna’s | 530 E. 5th Ave. | Anchorage

Please come and welcome Tony to Alaska!

After you call and write your e-mail, please forward this message or tell your friends and family what is at stake and ask them to contact Sen. Lisa Murkowski too.

I'm From Driftwood Story Tour in Alaska November 9-12

The I'm From Driftwood Story Tour will be in Alaska from November 9-12. (That's Tuesday through Friday this week).

Launched in the Spring of 2009 and inspired by the film "Milk", I'm From Driftwood collects and shares true lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender stories from all over the world to help LGBT youth realize they’re not alone. This fall, the IFD crew has embarked upon an ambitious 4-month, 50-state Story Tour to collect and share more LGBT stories from the smallest towns and biggest cities across America. IFD believes LGBT people are everywhere and we're out to prove it.

Nathan and Marquise are hoping to connect with as broad a cross-section of LGBT folks as they can during their short visit. We plan to visit Anchorage and Wasilla.


Anyone who would like to tell a story to the I'm From Driftwood team may contact Nathan Manske nathan@imfromdriftwood.com / 347-423-4444. Folks should give their name, preferred method of contact (email/phone) and when they'd like to meet up with the crew.

Nathan and Marquise are staying at The Copper Whale Inn which has generously donated rooms for the crew's stay in Anchorage so folks can also call there (907) 258-7999 from November 9th - 12th.


I’m From Driftwood is a 501(c)(3)-pending organization and is accepting donations to help fund the Tour as well as future projects that will continue their mission of collecting and sharing LGBT stories. Mad Myrna's will be holding a fundraiser for IFM this Thursday:

Mad Myrna's Fundraiser
I'm From Driftwood's 50-State Story Tour
Hosted by Paige, Myrna and Bear
Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010
530 E. 5th Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska 99501

About The Story Tour Crew

* Nathan Manske (creator)
* Marquise Lee (producer, videographer and editor)
* Nick Manske (driver and logistics coordinator)

Previous Hosts and Sponsors

We've had a lot of luck working with wonderful people from LGBT community centers, various PFLAG chapters (Omaha, Spokane, Seattle, Grand Forks ND, Alamogordo NM and others) as well as university LGBT Queer Resource Centers such as Spectrum.

We've been hosted/sponsored so far by The Salt Lick in Austin, The Olive It Cafe and Demsey's lounge in Spokane, UnicornBooty.com and Lobby Bar in Seattle, The Center and tHERe lounge in Denver, Rainbow Vista Retirement community and Lents Commons cafe in Portland, Magnet and Lookout Bar in San Francisco and The Abbey and Lifeworks in LA, Equality Hawaii and Hulas in Honolulu and many others.

Sara's News Roundup 11/7/10

Recent LGBT news selected by Sara Boesser in Juneau, Alaska.

1) Democratic Senator pledges to block vote on gay marriage in Iowa
Iowa, 365Gay.com, November 4, 2010

2) Nepal's First Openly Gay Travel Company Launches on Religious Holiday
Nepal, Fast Company, November 2010.

3) Iowa Judges Sacked Over Gay Marriage Ruling
Des Moines, Iowa, Huffington Post, November 3, 2010

4) Transgender George Washington player a fascinating, inspiring story
Washington, D.C., Rivals.com, November 3, 2010

5) Osmond Talks Teen Suicide on Oprah
Advocate, November 3, 2010

6) Trans Fit
Dallas, Texas, Dallas Voice, 28 October 28, 2010

7) Exit poll: Nearly a third of gays voted for GOP
Yahoo News, November 4, 2010

8) Russian Orthodox Church Pans Parade Decision
Russia, Advocate, November 3, 2010

9) Corvino: Gay is not “unnatural”
365gay.com, November 5, 2010

10) November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance
UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns, November 2010

11) When will it get better?
NCR Today, October 28, 2010

12) Ill. Elects Gay-Friendly Gov.
Illinois, Advocate, November 5, 2010

13) African American gay man wins election to N.C. House
Greensboro/High Point, N.C., Gay Politics, November 2, 2010

14) Cicilline victory gives Congress 4th gay member
Washington, Washington Blade, November 3, 2010

15) Election results put LGBT advocates back on defense
Washington, Washington Blade, November 3, 2010

16) Robinson will step down as bishop of N.H. in 2013
Concord, N.H., Boston Globe, November 7, 2010

17) Gates urges Congress to repeal gay ban now
Melbourne, Australia , Associated Press, November 7, 2010

President Obama on DADT

President Obama discussed Don't Ask Don't Tell in remarks yesterday morning after his post-election press conference:

Transcript courtesy Queerty (I've filled in some of the gaps):

I've been a strong believer in the notion that if somebody is willing to serve in our military, in uniform, putting their lives on the line for our security, that they should not be prevented from doing so because of their sexual orientation. And since there's been a lot of discussion of polls over the past 48 hours, I think it's worth noting that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel the same way. It's the right thing to do.

Now, as commander-in-chief, I've said that making this change needs to be done in an orderly fashion, and I've worked with the Pentagon, worked with Secretary Gates, worked with Admiral Mullen, to make sure that we are looking at this in a systematic way that maintains good order and discipline, but that we need to change this policy. There's going to be a review that comes out at the beginning of the month that will have surveyed attitudes and opinions within the armed forces. I will expect that Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen will have something to say about that review. I will look at it very carefully, but that will give us time to act, potentially during the lame duck session to change this policy.

Keep in mind, we've got a bunch of court cases that are out there as well, and something that would be very disruptive to good order and discipline and unit cohesion is if we've got this issue bouncing around in the courts as it already has over the last several weeks, where the Pentagon and the chain of command doesn't know at any given time what rules they're working under. We need to provide certainty. And it's time for us to move this policy forward. This should not be a partisan issue. This is an issue as I've said where you've got a sizable portion of the American people squarely behind the notion that folks who are willing to serve on our behalf should be treated fairly and equally.

Steve Benet of the Washington Monthly writes,
Given the make-up of the next Congress, policymakers will have just one more chance to clear the way for repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy -- and it will come during the lame-duck Senate session that begins in two weeks. If the effort fails, it will be at least two years, and probably more, before anyone can even try again.
DADT's fate in December will depend largely upon whether at least two Republicans will be willing to vote for its repeal. Writes Benet,
In about a month's time, a majority of the troops, a majority of American civilians, a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and two of his recent predecessors will all be saying the exact same thing: it's time to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

And in all likelihood, it'll be up to Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine to decide whether the repeal effort lives or dies.

The election is finally over. Well, not quite.

Polling place here

by Mel Green

The election is finally over.

Or... not quite. With 432 out of 438 precincts reporting, the front-runner in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race is "Write-in Votes" with 41.0% of the vote — nearly 7 points ahead of Tea Party-leaning Republican candidate Joe Miller (34.2%). Democratic candidate Scott McAdams, who consistently polled with the best "favorables" — i.e., people liked him better than either Murkowski or Miller — nonetheless drew only 23.74% of the vote counted so far.

Most of the write-in votes were presumably cast in favor of Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski — but it'll be a couple of weeks before the Division of Elections will finish counting the actual write-in ballots, not to mention more than 31,200 absentee ballots. And then, it's likely that at least some of the write-in votes will get tied up in litigation. The Anchorage Daily News reports that lawyers are already on their way up to assist Joe Miller's campaign in a battle over the numbers. So it will be some time before we'll know if Sen. Murkowski really beat the math and historical precedence to become the first in Alaska, and only the second in U.S. Senate history since Strom Thurmond in 1954, to win an election as a write-in candidate.

Late breaking: The Division of Elections has now announced it'll begin counting write-in ballots on November 10.

Other statewide races didn't bring much change. Gov. Sean Parnell will remain governor (though he'll have a new lieutenant governor, Mead Treadwell) and Congressman Don Young will remain a Congressman. We thank Democratic candidates Ethan Berkowitz (governor), Diane Benson (lieutenant governor), and Harry Crawford (Congress) for their efforts to give Alaskans an alternative.

Arguably the other most important race to LGBT Alaskans statewide was the retention election of Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe, who was targeted for defeat by Alaska Family Action, the political action arm of the antigay/anti-choice organization Alaska Family Council. Funded largely by Outside money from the national antigay organization Focus on the Family, Alaska Family Council sent out huge mailings in the last two weeks before the election on Justice Fabe's involvement in Alaska Supreme Court rulings on abortion, benefits for the same-sex partners of state workers, and similar issues, often mischaracterizing her role in these decisions. Fortunately, friends of Justice Fabe countered with a website giving voters the true facts on her record, and in one of the bright spots of the election Justice Fabe retained her seat on the bench. It was a close call, though: she finished with 53.3 percent of the vote, versus 46.7 percent voting to unseat her.

An analysis of all Alaska races is beyond the scope of this article. For complete election results, see the Alaska Division of Elections and coverage in the Anchorage Daily News, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Juneau Empire, and other news sources.

There was both good news and bad news for LGBT folks nationally. On the positive side, a record number of openly LGBT candidates won public office, including at least 106 of the 164 candidates endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. Among the winners: Representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), and Jared Polis (D-CO) won reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives; David Cicilline (D-RI), the openly gay mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, will join them in Congress in the new year. Jim Gray was elected mayor of Lexington, Kentucky. LGBT candidates will take office in legislatures in Ohio, North Carolina, Washington, Maryland, and California. Victoria Kolakowski was elected to the Superior Court of Alameda County, California, becoming the first openly transgender judge in the U.S.

On the other hand, three justices of the Iowa Supreme Court were voted out of office after a major campaign by national antigay activists, who targeted the justices — David Backer, Michael Streit, and Chief Justice Marsha Ternus — because of the unanimous Iowa court's decision in 2009 legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. Over $700,000 was spent to oust the justices in a campaign reminiscent of Alaska Family Action's unsuccessful campaign to unseat Justice Dana Fabe.

Republican victories in the election were enough to give Republicans a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, while Democrats continue to hold a majority — if a smaller one — in the Senate. It's unclear how the change of power will affect LGBT-related measures like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) or the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT). Talking Points Memo reports that Log Cabin Republicans think they might be able to line up enough Republican votes to repeal DADT in the lame duck session in December (but see TPM's reader comments for a lot of skepticism).

Pundits and commentators are already busy trying to explain what it all means. We'll have a bit of that here too, as we have time.

Meanwhile, you can see my less... errr... formal response to the election at Henkimaa.


A message from Alaskans Together:
Tuesday is Election Day! Please remember to vote.

There are a number of high stake races from Supreme Court Justices to the U.S. Senate race which could be determined by a few hundred votes. It's important that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community come out and vote during this very important election and help support pro-equality candidates.

We need strong supportive voices for equality at all levels of government.

We encourage you to get informed and learn about each and every candidate and ballot measure before heading to the polls.

Election Day - Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Not sure where to vote? Just text "where" to 30644, then enter your complete address and you will get a text with your polling location information. You can also visit the state division of election website.
Alaskans Together for Equality Inc. is a nonpartisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.

Copyright © 2008 by Bent Alaska.