Alaska mayor vetoes LGBTQ anti-discrimination protections

  • Sunday, March 3, 2019 11:09pm
  • News

FAIRBANKS (AP) — The mayor of Alaska’s second-largest city vetoed a new local law Friday that gave sweeping equal rights protections to the LGBTQ community — just days after the City Council approved it.

Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly said he hopes to put the issue on the ballot in October and let voting residents decide, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Friday.

Matherly made the announcement in a column sent to the newspaper Friday morning. The decision was made “after much soul searching, research, and examination of all facets of the issues,” according to Matherly.

“I do not take this action lightly,” he wrote. “As with most concepts, the details become challenging when they affect so many people with different priorities and opinions. It is those details that I think require further examination.”

The Fairbanks City Council approved the equal rights ordinance on Monday by a 4-2 vote. The hotly debated measure extended anti-discrimination protections for employment, housing and public accommodations. The measure also provided a means for people to challenge in court the practices they believe are discriminatory.

Supporters of the measure were planning to hold a vigil Friday night in Fairbanks.

Among them is Hayden Nevill, who said the veto “gives our neighbors a license to treat us poorly.” He said in a statement to the newspaper that the new law is supported by a majority of residents.

“The arguments against the ordinance were based on fear and misunderstanding,” Nevill wrote. “It’s disheartening that Mr. Matherly has chosen to legitimize fear instead of legitimizing people.”

The vetoed ordinance was modeled after local laws in Juneau, Alaska’s capital, and the southeast community of Sitka.

Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, also has protections for LGBTQ residents. The Alaska Municipal League does not have a count on how many other Alaska cities might have similar protections.

Before the Fairbanks law was passed, a few dozen people testified, with a small majority voicing opposition.

Under the city charter, the mayor can veto any legislative action. The City Council has the power to override vetoes with five affirmative votes within 14 days.

In his column, Matherly notes the public interest generated by the ordinance. He also says many of the public comments were from people living outside the city limits.

“While I value the opinion of our neighbors in the surrounding communities and visitors from farther out, I want the citizens of Fairbanks to chart their own course and decide how we move forward as a city,” he states.

In September, Matherly apologized after there was an angry uproar on social media when a meme that made fun of a woman who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault was shared from his Facebook account. The meme showed Christine Blasey Ford with her hand raised, apparently being sworn in before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The meme read: “Believe in something, even if you can’t remember anything.”

Matherly said his girlfriend shared the meme on a thread of a friend while she was scrolling through his Facebook newsfeed on his iPhone. From there, it spread quickly.

“I understand the emotion surrounding this entire national conversation, and I am sympathetic to both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh and especially too ALL victims of sexual assault,” he wrote on Facebook the next day. “My sincere apologies for anyone that was offended by the sharing of that meme. I am truly sorry.”


• Associated Press


More in News

Amandine Testu. Photo courtesy of Delta Wind
Missing hiker in Kachemak Bay State Park found

Park rangers reported Amandine Testu as ‘overdue’ Wednesday morning

Voters fill out their ballots at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Incumbents show lead in fundraising for state offices

Candidate spending is detailed in disclosure forms due Monday

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchorage man dies after being found floating in Kenai River

The man had been fishing in the area with friends, according to troopers

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Anchor Point woman dead after ATV rollover

Troopers were called around 9 p.m. on July 16 and told of a rollover on Anchor River Road

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Kenai man dead after weekend collision

The crash took place at the intersection of Treasure Chest Street and the Kenai Spur Highway

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Most Read