Adding Words in Alaska

A bill to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people under Alaskan state law was introduced in February by House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau.

Right now, LGBT people in Alaska can be fired from work and refused employment or housing simply for being themselves. Adding “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression” to the list of groups protected under state laws would signal to businesses, unions, and landlords that discrimination of LGBT people will not be tolerated in the eyes of the law.

“I don’t think you should discriminate against anybody for your viewpoints, or your biology, or your sexual orientation or your gender,” said Kerttula in a Juneau Empire report. “Maybe they won’t agree on the broader issue, which I would hope someday they would, but on this, it’s hard to understand how anybody would want discrimination, out-and-out discrimination, based on these things.”

Efforts to include “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression” to anti-discrimination laws are taking place all over the nation with the Northwest leading the way. The Add the Words campaign in Idaho continues to lobby state lawmakers and has been recently bolstered by inclusive city ordinance wins in Boise, Ketchum, and Sandpoint. In Montana, Helena recently passed a non-discrimination ordinance and a similar campaign has launched in Bozeman.

Alaska H.B. 139 has been referred to the House State Affairs Committee and the House Judiciary Committee.

Please take a few moments to thank Rep. Kerttula for introducing the bill. Rep. Kerttula’s office can be reached by phone at 465-4766 or toll free at 877-465-4766. She can be reached by email at:

Tiffany McClain is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Alaska. Email Tiffany.

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