- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A new effort is underway to repeal the recently enacted Anchorage law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination.

The repeal referendum would ask voters to decide whether the ordinance should remain law. Assembly Ordinance 96 was passed in September, making it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The petition application filed Wednesday must be approved by the municipal attorney before supporters can begin collecting signatures. More than 5,750 signatures of registered municipal voters would need to be collected by Jan. 11 for the measure to be considered for the April election, The Alaska Dispatch News reported (https://bit.ly/1Xu3vio).

Conservative talk radio host Bernadette Wilson is listed in the application as its primary committee sponsor. Wilson said she and 11 other women joined forces to file the petition because they have “grave concerns” about the ordinance. Some of those concerns are related to “bathrooms and locker rooms and the safety of our children,” she said.

“We trust that everyone here within the community is interested in looking out for the best interests of our children when it comes to bathroom and locker room use,” she said.

The bathroom issue was also brought up in September when Assemblywoman Amy Demboski proposed an amendment to the ordinance that would have allowed businesses to segregate bathrooms based on a person’s male or female anatomy. The amendment failed, but the final version allows people to use the bathrooms, locker rooms or dressing rooms that align with their gender identity.

Drew Phoenix, director of Anchorage’s LGBT nonprofit Identity Inc., said Wilson and other Alaskans have a “lack of familiarity” when it comes to the everyday issues faced by transgender people.

Phoenix said many people in the LGBT community were “heartbroken” after learning that another repeal effort was in progress. He remains optimistic that the repeal would be rejected if brought before voters.

“I really believe (perceptions have changed),” he said. “But it doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for us.”


Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com

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