It's Past Time to Expand Civil Rights to the LGBT Community
March 30, 2017
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
 
Once again I have introduced legislation to expand Alaska’s Human Rights to include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.  Senate Bill 72 adds this language to the Anti-Discrimination Act, protecting the LGBT community from discrimination in areas of employment, housing, education and public services. 
 
Our first hearing is in the Senate Health & Social Service Committee at 1:30, on Friday, March 31st.  Details about how to participate are at the bottom of this message.

Here are some common misconceptions about our LGBT community, and about the rights which this legislation would provide to them.
 
  1. The LGBT community in Alaska does not experience much discrimination, so they don’t need additional protection.

    False. Unfortunately, the reported rates of discrimination in Alaska are reflective of national trends, which are incredibly poor. According to a 2011 survey, 21% of the LGBT community in Anchorage report being denied a job, 18% report being denied a promotion, and 15% report being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Sadly, 73% of respondents reported hiding their sexual orientation or gender identity at work in order to avoid discrimination or harassment. 

     
  2. Giving the LGBT community additional protections is bad for business, and in turn is bad for Alaska.

    False. 53% of top companies in the U.S. have already adopted LGBT-supportive policies for economic reasons. Many businesses in Alaska have adopted these policies, as they help local business as well. Academic research suggests that such policies expand talent pools and help businesses retain good employees. A 2006 national poll found that 89% of LGBT respondents and 72% of non-LGBT respondents consider these policies when deciding where to work. Additionally, in 2015 the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation unanimously supported the Anchorage equal rights ordinance, (which added the same language to the city’s non-discrimination ordinance), as good for business in Anchorage.

     
  3. Including the LGBT community in civil rights law infringes on our constitutional right to freely practice our religious beliefs.

    False. We have a protected constitutional right to freely practice religion. Additionally, the Supreme Court found that anti-discrimination law does not fully apply to religious institutions. Religious institutions are free to discriminate in their employment and hiring practices.  

     
  4. Alaskans do not support such legislation. The ordinance which passed in Anchorage does not reflect the popular vote. Giving the LGBT community equal protections under the law is not what Alaskans want. 

    False. A poll in 2011 showed that 79% of Alaska residents believed Congress should pass a federal law to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 
The LGBT community is an important part of our state as a whole, and one of the fastest-growing communities. LGBT households grew by 57% from 2000-2010, and currently make up approximately 4% of our total population. They are equally deserving of the civil rights and protections given to every other man, woman, and child, regardless of race, sex, marital status, pregnancy status, or disability. I hope to have your support for this bill which writes the LGBT community in to the Anti-Discrimination Act. 
 
Testimony on the bill takes place Friday, March 31, at 1:30pm. You can participate in any of these ways:
  • Participate in person at the Capitol Building Room 205, 

  • Testify at the Legislative Information Office on the 2nd floor of the Wells Fargo Building, on the corner of Minnesota and Benson in Anchorage, or at your local LIO.

  • Give your testimony by phone at 1-844-586-9085. 

  • Email written testimony to me, or members of the committee whose contact information can be found here. Call or write the senators now to participate in this acknowledgment of human rights!


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Lastly, here’s a friendly reminder to apply for your PFD; the deadline is fast approaching! The last day to file is this Friday the 31st. Apply online here.
I'm Berta and I'm listening,

CONTACT ME
907-269-0174
Sen.Berta.Gardner@akleg.gov

Governor's Office
Gov.Alaska.gov
LtGov.Alaska.gov