Breaking: House Committee Advances HB 184

JUNEAU, Alaska -- Alaska took another step toward equality Tuesday when the House State Affairs Committee voted to advance House Bill (HB) 184, which will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination law.

Passage of HB184 would make Alaska the 20th state to enact legislation protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens from discrimination. A majority of Alaskans support such a law, according to an April 2017 Public Policy Polling survey. The Municipality of Anchorage, City and Borough of Juneau, and City and Borough of Sitka have already passed similar legislation at the local level, either with wide margins or unanimously. HB184 extends the same protections at the statewide level.

“Already, Alaska cities are writing these LGBT protections into law at the local level,” said Elias Rojas, board president of Alaskans Together for Equality (ATE). “But there are still many Alaskans who live in cities with the reality that they could lose their jobs, their homes, and their financial security simply because of who they are or who they love. HB184 will ensure that Alaskans in every community will be able to work, live, and raise their families without fear of unchecked discrimination.”

“Yesterday’s committee passage is one step in a long process, but it’s an encouraging step,” said Rep. Andy Josephson, who sponsored the bill along with co-sponsors Reps. Les Gara, Geran Tarr, Scott Kawasaki, Ivy Sponholz, Harriet Drummond, Matt Claman, Sam Kito III, Justin Parish, and Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins.

“This is common-sense legislation that speaks to the spirit of Alaska -- a place where you can be who you were meant to be,” Josephson said. “Individualism and liberty have always been valued here. HB184 will ensure that those fundamental rights are extended to all Alaskans.”

HB184 passed State Affairs committee on a bipartisan (4-2) vote. Reps. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, Gary Knopp, Chris Tuck, and Adam Wool voted in favor of the bill, with Reps. Chris Birch and DeLena Johnson opposed. It will now advance to the House Judiciary Committee. Passage there will move the bill to the Rules committee, after which the next step is a floor vote in the House.