LGBT Survey Concludes Discrimination Widespread in Anchorage
The survey has renewed -- and not resolved -- the debate.
Nearly one in six say they have been fired from a job -- and one in 12 say they've lost an apartment -- in both cases ... Just because of who they are.
Those figures are from a survey of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans-gendered residents in Anchorage.
Supporters of an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2009 came up with the idea of the survey after it was vetoed by Mayor Dan Sullivan, who said there was no evidence of discrimination in Anchorage.
Now the survey is likely to be part of the next public debate, if a citizens initiative for a new version of the ordinance is certified for the municipal ballot in April.
The summer of 2009 was a hot one in the Assembly chambers in the Loussac Library, with vigorous debate about whether LGBT residents should be included in the city's anti-discrimination law.
The Assembly voted 7-4 to add them, but Sullivan cast a veto.
Now the LGBT community is trying to document that the discrimination discussed in public testimony back then is real now.
"Some things are better,” said Phyllis Rhodes of Identity. “But generally there is discrimination. And it needs to be addressed by people who are in charge of running our city."
The survey of 268 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender respondents was conducted on-line and through paper questionnaires during the first three months of this year.
As a safeguard for the integrity of the survey, respondents were assigned personal identification numbers.
More than three in four said they had suffered taunts, more than four in 10 said they had been threatened with violence, and three in 10 said their property had been vandalized just because of their identity.
Almost three in four said they hid their true identity at work to avoid discrimination, while more than four in 10 said they had experienced harassment, and almost 15 percent said they lost a job, again just because of their identity.
And in regard to housing, almost one in five reported harassment by landlords or other tenants, one in 10 said they were denied a lease, and one in 12 said they had been evicted or forced out of their rental units, once again, just because of their identity.
"It's that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans-genders are not given the same protections in anchorage that are provided all other individuals and classes of people,” Rhodes said.
Some leading religious conservatives, such as Jim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council, say while there are undoubtedly many Anchorage residents who disapprove of those alternative lifestyles, there has been no evidence of actual incidents of discrimination.
So the survey has renewed -- and not resolved -- the debate.
Mayor Sullivan underwent surgery today and was not available to comment.
Assembly Chairwoman Debbie Ossiander, who voted against the ordinance in 2009, declined to comment.
A call to Rev. Jerry Prevo of the Anchorage Baptist Temple -- a leader against the ordinance -- was not returned.
Minnery of the Family Council claims the LGBT strategy now is to isolate people who do not affirm that community.
The signature-gathering effort is now under way for the citizens initiative to put an anti-discrimination measure on the municipal ballot.
Supporters need to turn in 5,871 valid signatures from voters by Dec. 12.