Commentary: Anchorage's equal rights law should not leave any group out

Anchorage Assembly chair Debbie Ossiander has proposed a well-intentioned but fatally weakened compromise in the divisive debate over whether the city should outlaw discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation.

In her version, unveiled at the Assembly meeting Tuesday, people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual would gain a modest amount of protection under city law, but transvestites or transgender people would not. Her version would leave all employers except the municipality free to discriminate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons.

Ossiander's rewrite is the third version submitted to the Assembly. Acting Mayor Matt Claman introduced the first proposal but offered a revised version early on to address some concerns that had been raised. His latest version, unlike Ossiander's, outlaws discrimination in employment and covers transgender people and transvestites.

We understand the impulse to compromise, but the message Ossiander's version would send the community is not acceptable.

In the case of transgender people and transvestites, it says yes, gays deserve protection like everyone else, but this minority within a minority does not.

And the Ossiander version says it's OK to deny someone a job because he or she is gay. That is not OK.

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

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