Protecting Equality

by Martha Amore

I attended the Fair Anchorage potluck last night at the home of Pam and Glenn Cravez. Fair Anchorage is a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving the community’s LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance.

Last night’s event was well attended, and we heard an update from Allison Mendel on activities by the opposition, led by Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council. First, some background information: Minnery said in a letter to supporters this past spring that his organization is planning to submit amendments to Ordinance 96 to “bring back balance and create equal protections for people of faith who want to live and work in the public marketplace without fear of government intrusion and legal intimidation.” Furthermore, Minnery confirmed that his organization will be enlisting the support of David Sears, chief counsel for the anti-gay litigation group Alliance Defending Freedom.

Any petition for a referendum must clearly state how people have been impacted, and then it must be certified before the signature-gathering phase can begin. There must be at least 5,754 signatures obtained in order to put the proposal to a public vote.

According to Mendel at last night’s event, Minnery has not yet made clear what amendments his organization will seek. There is not a petition at this time, and therefore the signature-gathering phase has not yet begun. It is most likely too late for them to attempt the November vote, which means April is most likely their plan. Mendel said that Fair Anchorage is currently raising money to pay a staff worker so that we are fully ready for whatever Minnery’s organization tries to pull. I will be meeting with various leaders of local LGBT organizations this summer, letting them know about our anthology Building Fires in the Snow, and asking how we can help efforts.