Early results show Anchorage voters have rejected the nation’s worst anti-trans bathroom proposal.
A preliminary tally released by election officials on Tuesday night indicates that the campaign in favor Proposition 1, which would force trans people to use public bathrooms which correspond to their original birth certificate, trails by a seven-point margin. An estimated 53.9 percent of voters have cast a ballot against Prop. 1, while 46.1 percent voted in favor of the ballot measure.
Thus far, 49,000 ballots have been counted in the mail-in election, which is the first of its kind in Alaska’s largest city. Christopher Constant, one of two openly gay members of the Anchorage Assembly, tells INTO that more than 20,000 votes are still expected.
It’s not over yet, but supporters of LGBTQ rights say they are “cautiously optimistic” their side is headed for a win.
“[W]e’ve brought a lot of people here in support of usin opposition to Proposition 1,” said Fair Anchorage field organizer Lillian Lennon told the local news station KTUU on Tuesday. “We’ve built an amazing campaign, and regardless of the actual turnout, when all the ballots come in, I feel very confident.”
“The Anchorage transgender community has stepped up and led this campaign in such an amazing, powerful way,” added Fair Anchorage’s Kati Ward, who served as campaign manager for the effort to defeat Prop. 1, in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News.
But conservative groups pushing the anti-trans bathroom measure stressed that final results may not be available for days to come.
“I hope that the vote narrows at the margin arrows, and that we do better as the night goes on,” Kim Minnery of the Alaska Family Council, the group spearheading Prop. 1, claimed on Tuesday evening. “I expect that will happen.”
Jim Minnery, her husband and fellow Prop. 1 supporter, did not respond to requests for comment from media on Tuesday night.
As INTO previously reported, the passage of Prop. 1 would have a major impact on Anchorage’s LGBTQ community. If the ballot measure manages to prevail, it would overturn a two-year-old nondiscrimination ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly in a 9 to 2 vote. The ordinance provides equal access for queer and trans people in housing, employment, and all public accommodations.
Additionally, Prop. 1 would force a transgender woman to use the men’s restroom in public spaces, even if her birth certificate were updated.
Given that 70 percent of trans people already report being attacked or harassed in bathroom facilities at some point in their lives, trans people INTO spoke with in March feared a “Yes” vote would effectively force them out of public life.
The campaign pushing Prop. 1, however, branded transgender people as the real threat. A TV spot broadcast on local channels by the “Yes on 1” campaign in March featured a woman named “Kate” recalling an experience where she shared a locker room with a trans woman, who is referred to as a “biological man” throughout the segment.
Employees at the facility, she claims, refused to intervene. They told her she “was the one with the problem.”
“There is no screening,” Kate says in the segment, which aired alongside Megyn Kelly Today and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. “There are no safeguards whatsoever. There’s no reassurance somebody can’t come in with harmful intentions.”
But INTO uncovered that “Kate” isn’t from Alaska. She lives in Minnesota, where she unsuccessfully lobbied in favor of an anti-trans bathroom bill.
Previous reports in this publication’s ongoing series on the Anchorage Prop. 1 election showed that the “Yes on 1” campaign frequently used misleading tactics in support of their cause.
Anti-LGBTQ groups aired a commercial featuring a women’s homeless shelter which ejected a transgender woman who, as the segment claims, “wanted to sleep and shower with the women.” The shelter, though, was not consulted before the ad ran. At least nine sources tell INTO the canvassers who petitioned to get Prop. 1 on the ballot did not tell locals it was about transgender people.
The campaign to defeat Prop. 1 has not escaped criticism, however. “Yes on 1” blasted Fair Anchorage for claiming the Anchorage Police Department opposes the anti-trans proposal, but local law enforcement has chosen to stay neutral.
INTO will continue to update with news on the election results as they come in.
Image via Fair Anchorage