House Majority Response to Same-Sex Civil Unions Question Goes Viral
Members of Republican-led House Majority now apologizing for laughter
ANCHORAGE - Some Alaskan legislators may be wishing they could eat their words right now -- or at least their laughter. The moment members of the House Majority Caucus now regret happened Friday in Juneau. Republicans were outlining for the press what the caucus called their “guiding principles.”
Citing a poll in which he said the majority of Alaskans would support legalizing same-sex civil unions, Juneau reporter Mark Miller asked the caucus if they too would support the idea of approving domestic partnership or civil unions open to same-sex couples.
Miller’s question was greeted with laughter from caucus members and a muffled response about not seeing “that” in the list of guiding principles.
Alix Layton is one person who didn’t find the response very funny.
“Civil rights aren’t funny,” Layton said. “They are not a laughing matter at all.”
Layton has two mothers and is active in the gay rights community. She also took offense at Majority Leader Lance Pruitt’s attempt to answer the reporter’s question by saying this: “I think what’s important about this caucus,” Pruitt said, “is that we focus on what allows people to have a great life."
“I think being recognized as people, recognized as being in a relationship,” said Layton, “that would definitely contribute to a greater, happier life.”
House Majority Leader Pruitt released a statement of apology today. In it he said the laughter was inappropriate, the subject matter was serious and that the caucus has taken no position on the matter. But some say the words have come too late.
John Aronno runs a political website that follows the state legislature, called Alaska Commons. Aronno says he was surprised that after posting the video of the press conference, news organizations from around the country started running it, including the Huffington Post.
Arrono said it wasn’t long before the comments started appearing and some of them were unflattering to the state.
“We all lived through the Palin effect,’ said Aronno. “We can’t go outside without somebody wanting to know about Sarah Palin. I don’t want to take a trip to California or somewhere in the Lower 48 and have someone come up to me and say, 'god, you guys really hate the gays!'”
Aronno said most Alaskans don’t hate their neighbors, but that’s a message that still needs to get out.