Commentary: Gay people deserve same fair treatment as everyone else

The individual character of people is what matters, not who you know, what your parents did or how you look. If you can honorably carry your responsibility as a citizen, and not cause trouble for others, then what you do with the rest of your life is your own business.

If we all could live up to that ideal, prejudice would have no place and there would be no need for anti-discrimination laws.

Unfortunately, something deeply embedded in human nature too often leads people to fear, and to reject, those who are different simply because of their difference.

That's why Anchorage has an Equal Rights Commission and laws that forbid discrimination. The city's law begins: "The public policy of the municipality is declared to be equal opportunity for all persons."

Yet Anchorage's laws deny this legal protection to people who don't fit traditional gender roles.

The anti-discrimination ordinance that goes to public hearing before the Anchorage Assembly today simply addresses this flaw. It would bar discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, housing and other economic activity on the basis of sexual orientation. It aims to ensure equal treatment for anyone who has an appearance, behavior or self-image that differs from traditional sexuality.

We believe this equal treatment is a basic right. Your friends, neighbors and relatives who are gay deserve to be judged on the basis of their own individual character, as fellow human beings. If you apply for a job, the question should be how qualified are you, how well you would do the job, not your sexual preference. If someone seeks to rent an apartment, his sexual preference is no more relevant than whether the prospective renter is black, Hispanic or Asian, Christian, Jewish or Muslim.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.