Last week I posted about Anchorage Mayor Sullivan’s veto of an amendment that would provide equal protection for Anchorage citizens of any sexual orientation. The ensuing discussion led to whether the Mayor had an obligation to do the will of the majority. Although, in this case he is doing the will of a vocal minority who we don’t even know if they reside in Anchorage or not.
So here is the oath of office that the mayor took.
I solemnly swear (affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Alaska and the Charter of the Municipality of Anchorage, and that I will faithfully perform the duties of Mayor to the best of my ability.
Seems pretty simple and straight forward. How is vetoing an ordinance that would protect people from discrimination performing the duties set forth in his oath of office?
The United States Constitution
Amendment 14 – Citizenship Rights.
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Permitting people to be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation would be a classic example of denying those people the equal protection under the law.
The Constitution of the State of Alaska
Article 1 – Declaration of Rights
§ 1. Inherent Rights
This constitution is dedicated to the principles that all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the enjoyment of the rewards of their own industry; that all persons are equal and entitled to equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law; and that all persons have corresponding obligations to the people and to the State.
There it is again, “equal protection under the law”. How can we have equal protection under the law when we are free to discriminate against anyone simply because of their sexual orientation.
The Home Rule Charter For The Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska
Article II The Bill Of Rights
(7) The right to opportunities in housing, public accommodations, employment, and education without regard to race, religion, sex, color, national origin, marital status or physical handicap; and the right to an Equal Rights Commission at the municipal level in the aid thereof.
While perhaps not as clear as the US and State Constitutions, the Home Rule Charter in spirit of the law is pretty clear that discrimination in “housing, public accommodations, employment, and education” is generally unacceptable.
When it comes to education the Anchorage School Board policy states:
This Statement of Rights and Responsibilities will be enforced fairly and uniformly without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex or gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office. ASD Statement of Nondiscrimination
Individual and/or groups are in violation of this policy if they:
* Make demeaning remarks directly or indirectly, such as name-calling, racial slurs or “jokes”; or
* Physically threaten or harm an individual; or
* Display visual or written materials or deface, damage, or destroy property or materials; or
* Perform any other act that is clearly discriminatory or harassing in nature;
because of the person’s race, creed, gender, national origin, age, language spoken, ability, disability, martial status, political or religious beliefs, physical or mental condition, family, social, or cultural background, or sexual orientation.
So apparently government at every level, even in our own Anchorage School District, recognizes the need to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. But in the infinite wisdom of our Mayor he has found “clearly a lack of quantifiable evidence necessitating this ordinance”. Or perhaps this was just the payoff to Prevo and his cult members for their campaign support?
The majority of the Anchorage Assembly, representing the majority of Anchorage residents, voted for the ordinance. The Mayor ignored the obligations he undertook in his oath of office. It is now up to the Assembly to have the courage to do the right thing. Protecting the fundamental rights of every Anchorage resident. Giving them equal protection under the law, and access to the “Equal Rights Commission at the municipal level in the aid thereof.”
From what I’ve been told, only an Assembly member can call for a vote to override the veto. I appreciate those members that supported the ordinance in the past, but now is not the time to quiver in the face of bigotry. Anchorage needs you to stand up and stand tall to what is blatant bigotry. We need to have it on public record who supports the rule of law and equality for everyone. We also have a right to know who supports denying equal rights of some based simply on religious dogma and political expediency.
Anchorage is waiting and watching. We won’t forget when it comes to election time which side you stood with.