Commentary: Anchorage gay-rights fight reveals a generational divide

My phone rang Monday just before Mayor Dan Sullivan announced his veto of the city’s equal rights ordinance protecting gay people from discrimination. A friend of mine, a lesbian 15 years or so older than I am, was nearly in tears over what she knew was coming.

She and her partner are professionals with kids and have been involved in the community for a long time. They were talking about moving. To them, the veto was a giant rejection, a message from the city that they aren’t welcome here.

I sympathized as I listened to her, but I disagreed. To me, Sullivan’s decision isn't evidence Anchorage has any particular point of view. Instead, it says one thing: a lot of old people run this city.

Watching this debate unfold has made me and many friends my age scratch our heads. The fight over this ordinance feels sprung from some kind of '70s documentary. We live in a world where the majority of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner benefits and Portia and Ellen are on the cover of People. A 30-something reporter I know who covers the Assembly told me months ago he thought the ordinance would pass unanimously.

"It can't be a big deal, right?" he asked.

But to a certain set, this is still a big deal. And in that way, the Assembly's trepidation, the mayor's wrong-headed veto, and even the cultural split over extending equal rights protections to gay and lesbian people can be seen as much about generational differences as it is about ideology.

Read more in The Anchorage Daily News.