Two nearly identical house bills have been pre-filed in the Alaska Legislature with the aim to establish “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes under Alaska’s current nondiscrimination law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin and several other classifications.
The proposed legislation would require state agencies, private employers, non-religious schools and other nonprofit groups to legally recognize and accommodate the preferred “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” of employees, customers, teachers, students and others regardless of their actual physical biology. These terms are derived from gender theories claiming that the realities of male and female are social constructs and not part of any natural law or given reality. Thus, according to gender theorists, varied types of sexual orientations and behaviors are perfectly acceptable.
House Bill 19 is sponsored by Anchorage Democrats Rep. Andy Josephson and Les Gara, along with Sitka Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins. Juneau Republican Rep. Cathy Munoz and Barrow Democrat Benjamin Nageak sponsor the nearly identical House Bill 42.
Specifically the bills state that there should be legal protection for the right to express and claim a “gender, self-image, appearance, or behavior” regardless of whether these differ from “that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth.”
The bills also aim to establish legal recognition and accommodation based on a person’s sexual practices and desires, including “heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality.”
The two bills closely resemble a proposal that was rejected by the Municipality of Anchorage in 2012 — Proposition 5.
Opponents of Proposition 5 objected that the law would have required private business owners in Anchorage to hire employees who were openly living a homosexual and/or transgender lifestyle, while also forcing service companies and rental organizations to promote, serve and facilitate causes and events which violate their moral beliefs, especially in the area of sexuality.
The state’s Commission For Human Rights currently hears grievances of human rights violations. If legislators successfully include “gender identity or expression” and “sexual orientation” among protected classes, then cases in which people feel they were discriminated against on these grounds will also be heard.
According to the state website the Commission for Human Rights has the authority to investigate complaints, interview witnesses, collect documents and visit locations of alleged discrimination to gather evidence.
The commission also has the power to subpoena witnesses or documents, “if it becomes necessary to do so,” the website states.
If the commission believes discrimination occurred, the violator will be “asked to cease the discriminatory act or practice” and may be asked to provide relief to the complainant, “undergo training in the laws prohibiting discrimination, adopt an anti-discrimination policy, or take other actions necessary to remedy the discrimination.”
If these actions are insufficient, the commission can then refer the case to the courts which can issue fines of up to $500 and 30 days in jail.
The new session for the Alaska Legislature began Jan. 20 and runs until April 19. This legislation and other bills can be tracked in the Alaska Legislature’s current session at legis.state.ak.us.
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