Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan vetoed an ordinance Monday that would have instituted anti-discrimination measures specifically for homosexuals in areas such as employment, housing, and education. Ordinance 64 had been passed by the Anchorage Assembly on August 11, with a vote of 7-4.
The mayor, who took office on July 1, after the initial ordinance had been put forward, said that it had not been demonstrated adequately that the protections were needed, and that most people were against it. "My review shows that there is clearly a lack of quantifiable evidence necessitating this ordinance," he said in his veto statement. "My review also shows that the vast majority of those who communicated their position on the ordinance are in opposition."
"As elected officials, we are charged with reflecting the will of the community in our decisions," he continued, "particularly in the absence of compelling data that would supersede that will."
The present initiative was the most recent of several attempts in the last few decades to bring discrimination protections to homosexuals in Anchorage. In fact, the first one, brought in 1976, was vetoed by Sullivan’s father, then-mayor George Sullivan.
In this case, the Assembly required a two-thirds supermajority in order to bypass Mayor Sullivan’s veto powers; but they were one vote shy of the 8 votes they needed.
The August 11 vote followed two months of public hearings on the issue, where the members heard testimony from over 600 people.
Assembly chair Debbie Ossiander had been expected to vote ‘yes’, but ultimately said she could not support the ordinance, reports the Anchorage Daily News, saying that it went too far in some ways and did not protect other people adequately, mentioning particularly small businesses.
"My reading on this is that businesses could be required to have unisex bathrooms," she mentioned.
Jim Minnery, President of the Alaska Family Council, told CitizenLink that such protections for sexual orientation have been detrimental to other communities across the U.S. "In each of those communities," he said, "there’s been documented cases of Christian adoption agencies having to shut down, because they won’t adopt out to same-sex couples, and photographers who’ve been taken to court because they refused to celebrate and affirm lesbian couples’ commitment ceremonies. And on and on it goes."
Shortly after Mayor Sullivan announced his veto on Monday, a group of about 150 people gathered outside city hall to protest, reports the Anchorage Press. While the Assembly could overturn the mayor’s veto with an 8th vote, the paper reports that this is unlikely because Ossiander, the one ‘no’ vote who seemed to waver, stands by her vote.