Politics & Government

Revisions to Anchorage's gay rights measure criticized

ANCHORAGE — Hundreds of people gathered outside Loussac Library for a second night of demonstration Wednesday, and scores lined up to testify at a special session of the Anchorage Assembly considering an amendment to the city's anti-discrimination law that would extend the law's protections to gays and lesbians.

Meanwhile off camera, efforts to redraft the proposed law to appease opponents had some original supporters backing away. Successive drafts not only water down the law but set into stone the discrimination it is meant to fight, they say.

Those who oppose any extension of the city's existing anti-discrimination law do not seem appeased by the re-drafts.

The hot-button issues – where some city lawmakers are trying to find middle ground – are employment, religion, and the definition of "sexual orientation."

Three drafts of the ordinance now floating among Assembly members differ on these points. Supporters of the original proposal seem divided on a second draft, but they all object to a third draft.

"The added language in the third version guts the intent and the integrity of the ordinance," said Jackie Buckley, spokeswoman for Equality Works, the group that backed the original initiative.

She says that version would actually make people of a different sexual orientation second-class citizens by specifying that employers can discriminate against them but not against other protected classes.

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