The New York Times
Anchorage Gay Rights
Is Set Back by
By WILLIAM YARDLEY,
nytimes.com from the Web, August 18, 2009
The mayor of Anchorage on Monday
vetoed a ban against discrimination based on sexual orientation, saying it was
unclear that such discrimination existed.
The mayor, Dan Sullivan, a Republican who took office on July 1, added that “the
vast majority of those who communicated their position on the ordinance are in
The ordinance, which would have prohibited such discrimination in employment,
housing, education and other areas, was approved by the Anchorage Assembly last
week on a 7-to-4 vote. Eight votes are necessary to override a mayoral
The Assembly’s approval of the ordinance, a topic of impassioned public debate
at its meetings for much of the summer, followed decades of efforts to pass
similar measures. Mr. Sullivan’s father, George Sullivan, who also served
as mayor, vetoed an initial proposal in 1976. Then, as now, the ordinance
met with vocal opposition among Christian conservatives.
“This ordinance was going to force small-business owners particularly to
accommodate people who choose a certain lifestyle,” said the Rev. Jerry Prevo,
pastor of the Anchorage Baptist Temple and a leader of the measure’s opponents.
“Once you give special rights to homosexuals,” Mr. Prevo said, “then the next
step is you legalize homosexual marriage and so forth.”
The measure’s supporters dismiss the argument that there is no evidence of
discrimination, noting that there is no formal means under current law for gay
men and lesbians to file complaints.
“The mayor uses interesting circular logic,” said Patrick Flynn, an Assembly
member who sponsored the proposal.
Another member who supported it, Sheila Selkregg, said the issue had become
entangled by questions like whether employers could prohibit men from using
women’s restrooms and whether they would have to provide separate restrooms for