JUNEAU â€“ Monday, Representative Andy Josephson assumed prime sponsorship of former representative Beth Kerttulaâ€™s House legislation to ban discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“There is just no room for discrimination against our fellow Alaskans,” said Josephson (D-Anchorage). “I’m honored to take up this legislation to continue Alaska’s long history of standing up for privacy and individual rights.”
Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage) has introduced the companion legislation in the Alaska state Senate.
“I am committed to removing barriers and discrimination so people can live their lives and be measured on their merits and their contributions, rather than on whom they love,” said Gardner.
The legislation (SB 131 and HB139) expands current anti-discrimination statutes to include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Similar provisions already prohibit discrimination based upon race, religion, color, national origin, physical or mental disability, age, sex, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy or parenthood.
The legislation would protect citizens from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, financing or credit based upon sexual orientation.
The State of Alaska has already taken steps to prevent discrimination with a 2002 administrative order that provides protection against sexual orientation discrimination for employees of the state and those they serve. In 2010, the University of Alaska amended its anti-discrimination policy to include protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Many of America’s most successful businesses have already adopted anti-discrimination policies that include protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have enacted similar legislation. Despite the progress that has been made, a 2012 survey found that 73 percent of LGBT respondents in Anchorage reported hiding their sexual orientation in order to avoid job discrimination after experiencing abuse or harassment in the workplace.
Upon leaving the Alaska Legislature to accept a fellowship at Stanford University, Kerttula said she hoped the Legislature would continue the effort to outlaw this form of discrimination.