Alaskans disagree about impacts of controversial Supreme Court ruling
Different groups in Alaska are arguing over the impacts of the heavily-watched and emotional Supreme Court ruling involving religious rights and same-sex couples.
While the ruling doesn’t have a direct and immediate impact, a conservative Christian group is calling it a victory, while the ACLU Alaska is calling for stronger non-discrimination laws in Alaska.
The Supreme Court ruling centers around Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who for religious reasons, refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. The court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed hostility towards religion when it found that Phillips violated the state's anti-discrimination law. However, it stopped short of ruling on the circumstances under which people can be exempted from those anti-discrimination laws.
Even so, here in Alaska, conservative group Alaska Family Action called the ruling a win for religious freedom, saying the Colorado case could pave the way for a something similar here in Alaska.
“It's very encouraging for those of us who would have to defend somebody like a Jack Phillips in Anchorage. It provides a lot of encouragement so that eventually it would have to go to that level that it already has precedence,” said Jim Minnery, of Alaska Family Action.
Minnery was behind Proposition 1 on Anchorage’s April ballot. It would have reversed the city’s non-discrimination law for fair and equal treatment for the LGBT community that the Anchorage Assembly passed in 2015. It failed, and the non-discrimination law remains in place.
Now, the ACLU Alaska wants people to know that the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t change anything.
“There was no right to discriminate created today and that the non-discrimination ordinances we have around the state-- this ruling doesn't impact them in any way. Peoples’ rights will still be protected under it,” says Casey Reynolds, of the ACLU Alaska.
However, most communities in Alaska do not have anti-discrimination laws that would protect the LGBT community from things like what happened in the Supreme Court case. It's something the ACLU says they will push Alaska lawmakers to do statewide in the next few years.
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