Juneau’s Growing LGBTQ Movement

Like LGBTQ people and allies across the nation and world, Juneau LGBTQ advocates Maureen Longworth and Lin Davis have had a lot to celebrate this year. Most recently and particularly important to them, United States Senator Lisa Murkowski, a sitting Alaskan Republican official, publicly supported marriage equality. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Section 3 of the federal “Defense of Marriage Act,” making life better for married same-sex couples even in states like Alaska, which does not recognize such marriages.

Most of these historic moments happened while Maureen and Lin were in Seattle celebrating their friends’ nuptials. Maureen told the Juneau Empire, “There was a big rally in front of the courthouse. But we didn’t know any of those people, so we thought, ‘We’re going to come home and plan something for Juneau.’”

Their friends in Juneau were more than happy to help celebrate the incredible victories of the past year. On Friday, August 2 and Saturday, August 3, multiple groups came together to host the Pride Foundation-sponsored Equality for All celebration and forum.

Devyn Reece brought the Imperial Court of All Alaska (ICOAA) to the party. After the event was over, Devyn said it was “definitely one of the most inspiring LGBTQ events I’ve experienced here in Juneau.”

The first day of the celebration was bursting at the seams with performances by Native dance troupe Yees Ku Oo, the Juneau Pride Chorus, and drag performer Vanessa LaVoce-Kellie. The second day featured an informational session on the implications of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) repeal for Alaskans with Joshua Decker, ACLU of Alaska Interim Executive Director, Anchorage attorney Allison Mendel, and accountant Marjorie Kaiser.

The LGBTQ community in Juneau shared in Maureen and Lin’s excitement and rallied behind them as organizers. Local legislators, businesses, and faith communities all shared statements of support.

This sense of community and shared responsibility has been extended to the planning of the upcoming Southeast LGBTQ Town Hall. The town hall is scheduled for Wednesday, September 11 at 7:00PM. Organizers from Southeast Alaska Gay and Lesbian Alliance, Imperial Court of All Alaska, and the University of Alaska Southeast Gay-Straight Alliance built on the enthusiasm in the Capital City and the statewide momentum catalyzed by town halls in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

As Lin further shared in the Juneau Empire article, “There’s been so much prejudice and discrimination. It’s so nice to have something to celebrate.”

If you are in Juneau on Wednesday, September 11 at 7:00PM and would like to share your input and perspective, please attend the Southeast LGBTQ Town Hall at the Douglas Community United Methodist Church. RSVP on Facebook.

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

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