It’s been a chilly January, and it looks like we will be busy fighting for LGBTQ equality in the coming weeks and months ahead. We encourage you to stay focused and engaged, and to speak up when you see something is not right – write letters to the editor, submit opinion editorials, rally, march, and most importantly contact your elected officials. The LGBTQ community along with our allies can be a powerful force locally, at the state level, and at the federal level to create change and protect fundamental human rights in our communities.
Remaining informed is the key to remaining engaged and active, here is a short update about Alaskans Together For Equality (ATE), some local news, and some of our work.
Alaskans Together For Equality Announces Appointment of Billy Farrell as Executive Director
Following ATE’s recent affiliation with Identity,Inc., we are excited to announce the appointment of Billy Farrell as Executive Director of ATE. Billy brings a wealth of experience to the position and will help lead our efforts across the state to educate, empower, organize, and train our members and supporters to advance and promote LGBTQ initiatives and issues. Welcome aboard Billy.
Anti-Transgender and Religious Exemption Petition Denied
Earlier this month, the Anchorage Municipal Attorney declined the Religious Exemption Petition that would have denied transgender people their rights and broaden the breadth of discrimination by attempting to expand existing religious exemptions to allow churches, businesses, and individuals to refuse to serve those who don't share their religious beliefs. While we can breathe a little easier, for now, we cannot take the protection of our rights for granted, so we encourage you to continue to have one-on-one conversations with your friends, family, and co-workers about the importance of these non-discrimination protections.
The 30th Legislative Session Kicks Off
The Legislative session is underway, and we will dutifully monitor the activities of the legislature and potential progress on LGBTQ-related legislation. We are currently tracking three bills: HB 15(Josephson), a bill related to cleaning up language in statutes regarding marriage;HB 20 (Claman), a bill that would authorize elected officials to solemnize marriages – adding to the pool of individuals that can marry loving couples; and, HJR 1(Josephson), a constitutional amendment bill that would repeal the same-sex marriage ban language in our constitution. We would like to thank Rep. Andy Josephson (Representative.Andy.Josephson@akleg.gov) and Rep. Matt Claman (Representative.Matt.Claman@akleg.gov) for proposing these pre-filed bills. Please feel free to email them to provide feedback, support, or gratitude using the links provided.
In addition to the three pre-filed bills, we are also anticipating an inclusive statewide non-discrimination bill that would add protections for LGBTQ Alaskans to Alaska’s existing non-discrimination law. All of these bills have been proposed in the past and without a committee or floor vote, we are hopeful this session will be different. We will continue to follow and provide updates on the filed bills or yet to be filed bill(s). We keep you informed of timely engagement opportunities and ask you to support these bills when and if they get a hearing.
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