This Week in Nondiscrimination: A Historic Victory in Alaska and Anti-LGBTQ Bills Defeated

By Shane Stahl • April 6, 2018 • 11:14 am

This week in nondiscrimination saw the city of Anchorage defend transgender nondiscrimination protections in a first-of-its-kind vote, as well as discriminatory bills defeated in Tennessee and Colorado. Additionally, we say goodbye to a trailblazing Alabama legislator. Here, our news roundup for the week of April 1.

ALASKA

The city of Anchorage had much to celebrate this week, as Proposition 1, a dangerous ballot initiative that would have repealed existing protections for transgender people, was defeated by a vote of 52.7%, in the process making Anchorage the first city in history to defend transgender dignity at the ballot.

Fair Anchorage, the campaign to defend nondiscrimination protections and Vote No on Prop 1, had worked tirelessly since mid-2017 to build up a strong operation, mobilizing many volunteers to talk to thousands of Anchorage voters about the need to protect Anchorage’s transgender population. In the process, they brought a variety of voices together to form a strong, bipartisan coalition — from business owners and faith leaders to elected officials and safety advocates.

Freedom For All Americans, a leading member of the Fair Anchorage campaign, congratulates the campaign on their history-making success, proving that nondiscrimination protections can be defended at the ballot box.

ALABAMA

State Representative Patricia Todd, Alabama’s first openly gay elected official, announced this week that she would retire after serving three terms in the state House.

In a speech on the House floor, Todd commented that her colleagues over the past twelve years have been “beautiful, wonderful people,” even in the face of disagreement and debate, including those she thought she would “Never get along with.”

Todd’s first campaign, in 2006, saw her win 93% of the vote after a hotly contested primary. During her time in office, she fought to add sexual orientation to Alabama’s existing hate crimes law, an effort that has unfortunately stalled in the House. Todd fought against what she called discriminatory bills that came through the chamber. Additionally, she spoke out against a 2017 law that allowed faith-based adoption organizations to refuse to place children with gay parents or other households because of their religious beliefs.

Also in her speech, Todd vowed that she would not be the last openly gay legislator in the state; one of the candidates for her seat, Neil Rafferty, is an openly gay former Marine.

Freedom For All Americans thanks Rep. Todd for her years of service.

TENNESSEE

On April 4, legislation aimed at requiring the state’s Attorney General to defend anti-transgender actions in school districts was defeated in the state Senate, in large part due to the activism of our partners at the Tennessee Equality Project.

The bill would have proved to be an expensive burden for Tennessee taxpayers and officials. . In districts where students would file claims or lawsuits regarding anti-transgender discrimination, the bill would have provided two options: the state’s attorney general would defend the district, or public dollars would be used to pay private attorneys for the district to litigate the issues.

This marks this third consecutive year where discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ bills have been defeated in the legislature.

COLORADO

A bill that would reauthorize the state’s Civil Rights Commission passed this week in a division vote by a majority of House members.

While detractors argued that the commission’s makeup and policies were problematic, and that landlords and and employers should be able to cite their religious beliefs to defend against discrimination claims, proponents of the Civil Rights Commission stated this was an attempt to weaken protections for those facing discrimination.

“We are harkening back to a time that we have said that we have moved past,” state Rep. Leslie Herod said of the proposed changes to the commission.

The Commission is at the center of a Supreme Court case involving a Colorado baker who refused service to a same-sex couple, citing his religious beliefs. The commission ruled against the baker, but the case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, now awaits a decision from the high court, following oral arguments in December.


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