Today’s the day that Mayor Dan Sullivan is expected to announce whether or not he’ll veto the Anchorage equal rights ordinance AO 2009-64 passed last Tuesday by the Anchorage Assembly. Here’s the letter I sent him urging him to let it stand.
Dear Mayor Sullivan:
I am writing to urge you to permit AO 2009-64 to stand.
There have been a number of claims by various individuals that “Anchorage is tolerant” and there is “no discrimination” in Anchorage — ranging from various witnesses during the Assembly’s public hearings, to Assembly members Bill Starr and Chris Birch in explaining their vote last Tuesday, to the blogger at Alaska Pride, who over the weekend claimed that the lack of “dead queers” to match the bodies of homeless people found over the course of the summer was evidence of no discrimination.
These claims fly in the face of the experiences of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity that other witnesses attested to — discrimination that they were unable to bring before the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission or the Alaska Human Rights Commission because such discrimination was not prohibited. It was for this reason that I took part in two studies in the early to late 1980s to document sexual orientation bias and discrimination. I have appended some of the pertinent findings from these studies below. Full copies of the reports are available at http://www.henkimaa.com/identity/. Full copies on CD and hard copies of the “Prima Facie” component were provided to all Assembly members when I testified on June 16.
These findings and the testimony of witnesses who testified to more recent incidents of sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination prove conclusively that there is such discrimination in Anchorage.
As is already written in Anchorage Municipal Code 5.10.010:
The public policy of the municipality is declared to be equal opportunity for all persons.
Is this really the Municipality’s public policy? Or is it not?
If it is, there’s no question but that the ordinance should be allowed to remain as enacted last Tuesday by the Assembly. Please do not veto.
Melissa S. Green
Anchorage resident 1982–1987; 1990–present
Relevant findings from studies mentioned above:
- One in Ten: A Profile of Alaska’s Lesbian & Gay Community by the volunteers of Identity, Inc. (1986)
- Identity Reports: Sexual Orientation Bias in Alaska by Melissa S. Green and Jay K. Brause (1989)
- Full copies available at http://www.henkimaa.com/identity/.
Of the 734 respondents to One in 10 (statewide survey in 1985):
- 61% reported having been victimized by violence and harassment while in Alaska because of their sexual orientation;
- 39% reported having suffered from discrimination in employment, housing, and loans/credit; and
- 33% reported having suffered from discrimination because of sexual orientation from services and institutions.
From the “Closed Doors” component of Identity Reports (based on a 1987 survey):
- 31 percent of the 191 employers in the survey said they would either not hire, promote, or would fire someone they had reason to believe was homosexual.
- 20 percent of the 178 landlords in the survey said they would either not rent to or would evict someone they had reason to believe was homosexual.
From the “Prima Facie” component of Identity Reports (based on interviews and documentary evidence through 1987)
- 84 actual instances of antigay bias, discrimination, harassment, or violence (including three murders) were recorded involving 30 men and 21 women in the Municipality of Anchorage (64 cases), the City and Borough of Juneau (4), the Fairbanks North Star Borough (6), and 10 other localities in Alaska (10).
- Victims were predominately gay men or lesbians, but also included heterosexuals who were erroneously assumed to be gay or lesbian.
- Of the 42 cases of employment, housing, public accommodations, and business practices discrimination from personal (as opposed to documentary) testimony, 32 were evaluated by a former intake investigator with the Alaska Human Rights Commission as being jurisdictional under AS 18.80 (Alaska’s human rights statutes) if AS 18.80 had included “sexual orientation” as a protected class.