Anchorage rejects anti-bias measure

Voters in Anchorage, Alaska, overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that sought to add “sexual orientation” and “transgender identity” to the city’s human rights law.

With 102 of 121 precincts counted late last night, the vote on the measure, Proposition 5, was 58 percent to 42 percent, according to the city elections division.

Voters in Anchorage, Alaska, overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that sought to add “sexual orientation” and “transgender identity” to the city’s human rights law.

With 102 of 121 precincts counted late last night, the vote on the measure, Proposition 5, was 58 percent to 42 percent, according to the city elections division.

Turnout Tuesday set records, with so many voters showing up that some precincts ran out of ballots. The Anchorage Daily News reported that the head of “Protect Your Rights,” a group organizing opposition to the ballot measure, sent out an email Monday and Tuesday telling “thousands” that they could register to vote at the polls on Tuesday, but he was wrong. The email said nothing about the topic of Proposition 5; it said only “Protect Your Rights. Vote No.”

KTUU Television reported Tuesday night that precincts were allowing voters to go ahead and fill out “questioned” ballots. And the city’s election clerk told the station that she believed some voters were coming from jurisdictions outside Anchorage to cast votes.

Supporters of Proposition 5 were upset last week by a political ad put on the television airwaves in Anchorage, characterizing the potential beneficiaries of the measure as burly men wearing women’s clothing, trying to get jobs at day care centers and access to women’s locker rooms. One ad claimed that a day care center would be forced to hire a “transvestite who wants to work with toddlers” if the amendment to its human rights law passed. The other ad claimed a local fitness gym would have to “open the women’s locker room to anyone who claims a female identity.”

The ads were produced by “Protect Your Rights.”

Yes on 5-One Anchorage, a coalition supporting the ballot measure, called the ads “highly offensive” and an effort to “dehumanize and demean our transgender friends, family and neighbors.”

The “Protect Your Rights” group said the ads were intended to point out a “shocking flaw” of the proposed amendment: it didn’t define “transgender.”

Proposition 5 sought to add “sexual orientation” and “transgender identity” to the existing non-discrimination law that applies in matters of the sale or rental of property, finance, employment, public accommodations, education, and “practices of the municipality.” The measure does define “sexual orientation” as “an individual’s heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.” But did not define “transgender identity.”

Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska, said the definition for “sexual orientation” was necessary because of opponents’ attempts to claim that it would prohibit discrimination based on pedophilia, necrophilia, and other sexual disorders. But “transgender identity,” he said, is something the courts are “well aware of.”

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