The University of Alaska appears poised to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, just months after Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan vetoed an effort to do so on the city level.
The Board of Regents expects to vote today on adding sexual orientation to the university's nondiscrimination policy. All the testimony on Thursday was in favor of the change.
University of Alaska students, faculty and staff members have been pressing the Regents for more than 20 years to ban discrimination against gays. The Regents voted on the idea over the course of four years in 1990s, rejecting it each time.
But it's different this time. University of Alaska President Pat Gamble says it needs to happen and has formally recommended the Regents make the change.
"Hundreds of universities have already made this change and Alaska may be the only state without sexual orientation as a specifically listed protection in a public university policy," Gamble said in his memo to the Regents. "With the elimination of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' from the military, the trend is clear. The time has come to acknowledge this protection explicitly."'
The proposal would add sexual orientation to a policy that bans discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, veteran status, disability, marital status, pregnancy and parenthood. Gamble said refusing to add sexual orientation could become a recruiting issue for students, faculty and staff.
The University of Alaska already provides benefits to the same sex partners of its employees.
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