Proponents of Anchorage’s anti-trans ballot measure have an interesting theory on why the initiative is trailing in the mail-in vote. Locals were deceived by LGBTQ advocates, claims the “Yes on 1” campaign in a recent email sent to supporters on Wednesday.
Anchorage is currently counting ballots on Proposition 1, which would segregate the city’s bathrooms based on sex according to original birth certificates if signed into law. Its passage would rollback part of the city’s 2015 nondiscrimination ordinance, which offered protections to queer and trans people in employment and housing.
Final results are not yet available, but early tallies indicate the measure has likely failed.
Sources tell INTO that as of Wednesday evening, Prop. 1 is down six points. With 60,000 votes counted, the anti-trans proposal is still losing 53 percent to 47 percent. A full count, however, may not be available for several days: More than 20,000 votes still need to be tallied in what was the largest turnout for any election in Anchorage history.
Jim Minnery, whose Alaska Family Council is spearheading Prop. 1, told supporters of the initiative that it’s “reasonable to think” the fight is over.
“If we estimate that 21,000 ballots remain to be counted, we would need to win just over 59 percent of those votes in order to close the gap and claim victory,” he said in a message titled “The Answer Is Still Yes.” “It’s not unreasonable to hope for that. But it’s also reasonable to think we may yet fall short.”
Minnery, however, blamed the failure of Prop. 1 on LGBTQ advocates. He said groups like Fair Anchoragewhich opposed Prop. 1bought “a lot of voter confusion” with out-of-state money. The conservative noted his campaign was outspent 6 to 1.
“For example, voters were told that Proposition 1 ‘would eliminate any and all protections for transgender people,’” Minnery wrote. “That was clearly a lieProposition 1 left in place all existing prohibitions against discrimination in areas such as employment and housing.”
“Voters were also told that Proposition 1 would ‘require everyone to show their birth certificate just to use a municipal restroom,’” he continued. “That was another lie – and it was easy to document.”
Minnery’s complaints come on the heels of revelations his campaign obscured the intention of the measure when presenting it to voters to put in on the ballot. An INTO investigation revealed canvassers petitioning for Prop. 1 didn’t tell voters the proposal sought to force transgender people into bathrooms contrary to their gender identity.
Sources say many presented it as a privacy initiative. “Do you want men in your little girl’s bathrooms in elementary schools?” voters were asked.
The “Yes on 1” campaign was also condemned for running an ad which featured a homeless shelter under investigation for ejecting a transgender woman. The ad claimed that “a man claiming to be a woman tried to enter a shelter for abused women” in order to gain access to changing and showering areas.
“The man is claiming gender identity discrimination and is using the Anchorage law to force his way in,” the TV spot concluded.
But a representative for the shelter told INTO in a phone interview the campaign created and aired the advertisement without their consent. The shelter follows municipal law, which bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in public accommodations, the rep added.
The ad was the one a handful of commercials from “Yes on 1” which critics say manipulated voters.
The “Yes” campaign released an advertisement in mid-March featuring a woman named Kate, who recalled a horrific encounter in a locker room with a transgender woman (referred to as a “biological male”) who watched women shower. When she asked staff to intervene, they told her she was the one with the problem.
“Predatory men are using these laws to violate women,” she concluded.
The commercial came under fire after INTO revealed that Kate isn’t from Alaska, which is not disclosed in the ad. “Kate” is actually Kate Ives, a Minnesotan woman who pushed a bathroom bill in her home state.
When pressed on the allegations, Minnery said that Kate represented Anchorage women who were afraid to speak out.
The Fair Anchorage Campaign was not without its controversies, however. Late in the campaign, organizers fighting the passage of Prop. 1 apologized to Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll for using his comments in a way that suggested he opposed the anti-trans bathroom measure.
What Doll actually said, he clarified, is that he didn’t believe Anchorage had the capacity to police bathrooms. “We have so many other priorities I can’t ever see us doing something like this,” the police chief remarked.
M.J. Thim, communications director for the Anchorage Police Department, told INTO in an email that Doll stands by those statements but wishes to remain neutral in the debate. Thom confirms that Fair Anchorage issued an apology for using his quote to misrepresent his political stance.
Minnery excoriated local press for failing to cover that story, stating that local media acted as a communications arm of the “No on 1” campaign.
“The majority of voters do NOT approve of this policy,” he wrote in the email. “However, too many voters were confused about the true meaning and purpose of Proposition 1. Clearly, many voters thought that the Anchorage Police Department was opposing Proposition 1, based on the use of the image of the Chief of Police in their advertising.”
But despite gripes over misleading voters, Minnery told supporters he would continue to fight. He said polls conducted by Alaska Family Council indicate strong support for Prop. 1, and that media bias muddied the waters.
Minnery promised there was much more to come.
“In the weeks and months to come, we’ll be asking you to take some concrete steps to help combat the dangerous transgender agenda that is being pushed not only in Anchorage, but throughout Alaska,” he urged.