Tuesday, May 21, 2013
One Anchorage Turns in Signatures for Ballot Initiative
Equal rights ordinance for sexual orientation and transgendered identity aiming for April ballot
It looks like Anchorage voters will get a say in whether the city should add sexual orientation and transgendered identity to the list of those protected against discrimination. The backers of a petition drive to get that on the April ballot appear to have the signatures they need, and then some.
To members of the group called One Anchorage, it’s precious cargo, petitions containing the signatures of more than 13,000 Anchorage residents in favor of letting voters make the call.
“Anchorage voters signed up to support putting this on the ballot,” said Trevor Storrs of One Anchorage. “That’s more than twice the number required.”
The group has some high profile supporters, among them former State Senator Arliss Sturgelewski and former Governor Tony Knowles. Both say it’s time to make discrimination illegal when it comes to things like housing and jobs. “…And to add to that list the gay and transgender population is just adding equal rights to the laws of this city to provide equal rights to everybody,” Knowles said.
Supporters of the petition drive say they had no problem getting signatures, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who signed these forms supports their views. Some might like the opportunity to vote against it.
The issue has drawn passionate protests in the past from conservative Christian groups. But today a different group of clergy raised their voices. “I am a Christian. I am a pastor. Faith calls me to support equality,” said Rev. Peter Perry of St. John United Methodist Church.
Members of more than two dozen mainstream churches stood together in a show of solidarity, saying faith compels them to love their neighbor, and support an ordinance they believe can do the same.
The city clerk’s office still needs to certify the petition, making sure enough of the signatures are in fact from registered voters. They expect to have that done by early next week.