Study Released by Opponents of Gay Rights Ordinance
Says proposition on April ballot threatens religious liberties; pro-proposition clergy disagree
ANCHORAGE - There’s a new development in the battle over whether to include members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender community in the city's anti-discrimination law. Those who oppose Proposition Five say a new report shows faith-based organizations would be forced to go against their beliefs if the ordinance is passed.
The report is by Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian organization based in Arizona. Opponents of Proposition Five are using the report to say the ordinance would force people to ignore their religious beliefs. But one attorney says that's not true.
The issue of equal rights for gay and transgender people in Anchorage will make its way to the voting booth on April 3.
With Proposition Five weeks away from being decided, the new report is saying the ordinance will force people and their businesses to violate their religious conscience. “People will understand that there is a lot more to it than just equal access,” said Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council. “I'm not sure how extreme it is to say that a church in New Jersey, Ocean Grove Camp Association, had to perform a same sex ceremony in their facility.”
Labor and employment attorney Tom Daniel says Proposition Five wouldn't apply to churches or church schools. “It doesn't violate their religion because they are still free to practice their religion as they want too,” said Daniel.
But it’s business Minnery is talking about. “[Like] bed and breakfast owners, counselors who feel that they would have to provide counseling to gay and lesbian couple.”
“It might affect people who have strongly religious views against homosexuality but when you engage in business you have to operate by the rules of the society,” said Daniel.
Minnery says the battle is about legislating morality without real proof of discrimination. “A good percentage of that is people who felt as though they might not get a promotion if they came out of the closet… Well, feeling like you might be denied a promotion because you’re homosexual or [a] transgender person is different than actually being discriminated against and not having that job offered.”
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church pastor Michael Burke says there is proof. “I think from his perspective he's not aware of these cases, he doesn't see them… If I was gay or lesbian and I was being discriminated in my housing, I wouldn't call Jim up and tell him.” Burke is part of the more than 45 Christian pastors in Anchorage who support Proposition Five. He says it boils down to putting everyone on the same playing field. “Discrimination and unfair treatment is never loving, we should have the religious liberty to do the best for our fellow citizens.”
The final decision is in the hands of voters on April 3. Minnery says he has asked the One Anchorage group to debate the issue. Pastor Burke, who is part of Christians For Equality, says they can't have a meaningful one using just soundbites.
In the meantime Christians For Equality is holding a call for prayer and action Friday at St. Mary's Episcopal Church.