On Tuesday, LGBTQ equality was placed on hold.
April 3, Election Day in Anchorage, Alaska – people voted on a ballot measure that would have added core protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the Anchorage Municipal Code. Though the voting process was fraught with irregularities, with more than 90% of the vote counted, news agencies report that 58% voters have voted against Proposition 5. Currently, LGBTQ Alaskans live without any safety in employment, financial practices, housing, restaurants, department stores, and other businesses.
Questions remain about the validity of day-of voter registrations and several precincts running out of ballots. Regardless of the outcome, it is important to highlight the incredible people of Anchorage who worked so hard to bring full equality and recognition to LGBTQ people in Anchorage.
One Anchorage – the coalition working in support of the measure – was led by former Democratic Governor, Tony Knowles, and former Republican State Senator, Arliss Sturgulewski. Their office released the following statement:
Since the beginning of One Anchorage, we have been on the right side of history. While the vote totals released to date indicate that Prop 5 did not receive sufficient votes to become law, we know our long-term journey towards full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Alaskans will one day – and soon – become a reality. We see a growing number of Alaskans, who, like us, believe everyone in Anchorage should be treated the same no matter who you are. It won’t be long before our gay friends and neighbors have the exact same legal protections as all others in our community.
We await final results from the Municipal Clerk and we understand that there are thousands of ballots that have not yet even been counted, and additionally that Anchorage voters have expressed concerns with the conduct of the election. We fully expect that the Clerk’s Office will continue to share information with the public as it become available, and our campaign will continue to monitor the process until every vote has been counted and all concerns have been addressed.
Yes on 5, One Anchorage extends our deepest appreciation to the many dedicated volunteers and donors across Alaska who poured their hearts and souls into this unprecedented grassroots effort. We remain proud of their tireless work and we would not have come so far without them. They are the heroes of our community. The foundation we laid with them over the past year will serve as the basis of future victories for equality.
Pride Foundation echoes the gratitude for the community support and volunteer effort. On election day alone, more than 45,000 reminder calls were made by community members. “The passion and commitment of the volunteers – gay and straight – has been inspirational,” said Doug Exworthy, Pride Foundation’s Board President, who came from Seattle to help and participate.
As we move forward, know we are all in this together. We will continue this fight for equality until the headline reads: “Anchorage Wins Historic Vote!”
Kris Hermann’s is Pride Foundation’s Executive Director. Email Kris.