An LGBTQ anti-discrimination bill in Alaska has advanced, making history for the state at a critical time for the transgender people in Anchorage. If passed, the bill would supercede an extreme anti-trans ballot measure currently up for a vote by mail in Anchorage.
HB 184 would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression” to the list of classes protected under the state’s laws. Its passage would grant protected status to transgender people in Anchorage even as anti-LGBTQ proponents there seek to rollback part of the city’s non-discrimination law by forcing residents to use the bathroom that correlates with the gender listed on their original birth certificate.
The state House State Affairs Committee advanced HB 184 last week. It is expected to face an uphill battle in the legislature, as it still has to clear two more committee votes before advancing to a floor vote. The House Judiciary Committee and the Rules Committee will decide its fate next.
In addition to Anchorage, the Alaskan cities of Juneau and Borough of Sitka already have LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections on the books, according to Alaskans Together for Equality (ATE).
“Already, Alaska cities are writing these LGBT protections into law at the local level,” said Elias Rojas, board president of ATE in a statement. “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.”
Bill Sponsor Rep. Andy Josephson says in a statement the measure would make Alaska more attractive to workers and shape the state into a model of human rights advocacy.
“Historically, Alaska has been a forerunner for human rights,” Josephson says. “We passed our Civil Rights Act almost two decades before the national act of 1964. Yet, we don’t protect the civil rights of LGBTQ Alaskans. This population continues to lack protection from discrimination in housing, financing, employment, and public accommodationsprotections we afford to all other Alaskans.”
Also brewing in the legislature is anti-trans measure that seeks to outlaw state funding to transgender-related medical care. HB 364 would bar the state from paying for gender confirmation surgeries and hormones. That measure, however, has not moved out of committee.
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