What's on the table: Anchorage equal rights ordinance

It’s been a long hard haul: six long nights of public testimony. Now finally tonight there may be some decisions made.

Here’s the Assembly’s agenda tonight. The equal rights-related items are item 9.B.2, which is Dan Coffey’s resolution for a task force to study the issue another year or more; and item 11.D, on Ordinance 64 (in its various incarnations) itself.

Read them here:

Dan Coffey’s resolution for a task force

The four versions of the ordinance
These are right here on my website; you can also get them from the Assembly website.

  • AO No. 2009-64. Original draft submitted on behalf of then-Acting Mayor Matt Claman, for reading May 12, 2009. This version would add veteran’s status and sexual orientation to the municipal human rights code. with sexual orientation defined as including actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender identity and expression.
  • AO No. 2009-64 (S). First substitution version submitted on behalf of then-Acting Mayor Matt Claman, for reading June 9, 2009. Similar to the original version, but removes veteran’s status from the proposed ordinance. Exludes home-operated businesses employing fewer than five people from Title 5’s provisions, which would mean extending the right to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, age, etc. in such businesses, which under current law is prohibited.  Explicitly states rights already present in law such as the right for employers to impose “reasonable dress codes, work rules, or other rules of general application” or to discriminate “because of one’s biological gender in matters such as acces to restrooms.”
  • AO No. 2009-64 (S-1). Second substitution version submitted by Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander, for reading June 16, 2009. Weakest version from the point of view of granting equal protections from discrmination for LGBT people. Removes gender identity and expression from the definition of sexual orientiation, hence exluding transgender/transsexual people from protections.  Permits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in all except public (i.e., municipal) employment. Authorizes the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission to track discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression even if that discrimination otherwise falls outside the scope of Title 5.  Permits public accommodation discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation when the public accommodation involves home occupation or provision of personal care services.  Explicitly states rights already present in law such as the right for employers and operators of public accommodations to impose “reasonable dress codes, work rules, codes of conduct, or other rules of general application.”  Explicitly states that the provisions of the ordinance “shall not be construed tas mandating preferential treatment or quotas bases on sexual orientation.” Amends religous exemptions to remove any question of the Equal Rights Commission examining the “genuineness” of religious reasons for permitted discrimination by religious bodies.
  • AO No. 2009-64 (S-2). Third substitution version submitted by Assembly Member Patrick Flynn, for reading August 11, 2009. Strongest version, both in terms of providing equal protections from discrimination to LGBT people, and in providing clear language on appropriate religious exemptions (right to discrminate by religious organizations). Rather than (erroneously) including gender identity as a category of sexual orientation, this version separately defines gender identity, with specific references to pre- and post-operative transsexuals, as well as “other persons who are transgendered and have a reasonably consistent gender presentation.”  Throughout the rest of this verision, sexual orientation and gender identity are added to the various provisions prohibiting discimiation in employment, housing, financial practices, public accommodations, and muncipal practices.  Definition of unlawful discriminatory act or practice explicitly states that “Nothing in this chapter is intended to permit any criminal act prohibted by federal, state, or local law.”  The religious exemptions section (5.20.090) is the clearest language yet on religious exemptions (incuding improving on the existing Title 5), and specifically addresses exemptions (that is, the right to discriminate) in religious organizations that do not have religious ritual, worhip, or the propogation of religious doctrines/beliefs as their primary purpose — for example, schools or societies.  Thus, this covers the common religious objection that earlier versions of the ordinance would force a church-affliliated school to hire homosexual school bus drivers, or the like.

If you want to print them out all at once, I’ve also got all four versions in one document, which I’ve bookmarked for easy navigation.

I’ll be livetweeting from the Assembly chambers as yksin, and will be (trying to remember to use) the hashtag #anclgbt.

Good luck to us.

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