Anchorage Gays Want, Need Anti-Discrimination Protections
Activists in Anchorage believe they’ve got the petition numbers to get LGBT anti-discrimination protections on the ballot next April.
And to back the need for the law, they’ve released results from a survey showing widespread discrimination against LGBT people.
Local LGBT group Identity says they conducted the survey in response to a comment from Republican Mayor Dan Sullivan in 2009 when he vetoed the equal rights ordinance that the Anchorage assembly had passed.
“Quite frankly, I just don’t think there’s enough evidence to support the necessity for an ordinance,” Sullivan said in 2009. “And you combine that with the overwhelming support from the community to veto it, and it made my decision pretty clear.”
“We took that, and many other people’s questions to heart, and Identity took it truly to heart, and they took the steps forward to do this survey,” said Trevor Storrs from One Anchorage, who are organizing the ballot initiative.
The survey found similar levels of discrimination, harassment and bias to one conducted in 1985.
Nearly half of respondents reported being harassed by employers or other employees, whilst a fifth believed they were turned down for a job when otherwise qualified or denied a promotion. 15 percent said they were fired by their employer based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
A fifth said they’d been harassed by a landlord or other tenants, and one in ten said they were denied a housing lease, even though they were otherwise qualified, because they were LGBT.
Three quarters reported experienced verbal abuse, and 43 percent were subjected to threats of physical violence. One in ten had seen their property damaged.
In order to avoid discrimination, three in four had hid their sexual orientation.
Said local activist Christopher Constant, of the ballot initiative:
“Putting the people’s rights up to a vote of the people is a terrifying precedent — imagine asking voters whether people should have the right to marry, the right to live in a house. Damn it! There are going to be consequences if we lose. We have to win,” he said.
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