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!

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