Equal Rights Initiative Becomes Religious Battle Between Clergy Over Homosexuality
One Anchorage fights for equal employment and housing rights
When One Anchorage turned over the signatures they’d collected to get its equal rights for gays and transgender people ordinance on the April municipal ballot, the backers were thrilled to have twice as many signatures as they would need.
Now, just two months before the election, it’s clear that not everyone is of one mind - there is no "one Anchorage," as far as this issue is concerned.
Jim Minnery represents the Alaska Family Council, which is organizing opposition to the ordinance. His group says being forced to hire or house a gay or transgender person offends its Christian values.
“The question is, should people who have deeply held convictions be forced to affirm, accept, support and promote that lifestyle when it is counter to their faith traditions?” says Minnery.
That view is counter to a different group of church leaders who came out in support of the ordinance in December, proving the battle over beliefs will likely rage on all the way up to the April 3 election.
Nationally, the trend is pretty clear.
Nearly 150 cities, counties and states have passed similar equal rights laws, and pretty soon a big arm of the federal government will weigh in as well.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will soon add sexual orientation and gender identity to its list of protections. That means any program or social service agency that gets HUD money will be breaking federal law if it discriminates.
Supporters say it’s one more action proving it’s time for equal rights for all, while those who disagree will still have several weeks to make their case.