- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage Assembly is considering a gay rights ordinance that would ban discrimination in the city on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Public testimony will continue Wednesday on the proposed ordinance after more than 110 people signed up to speak at the Assembly’s meeting Tuesday night, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

There are three versions of the ordinance up for public hearing, all of which would guarantee equal rights in employment, housing and public accommodations for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

The versions vary over whether businesses, organizations or people could claim religious exemptions to such a law.

Assembly members Bill Evans and Patrick Flynn authored a compromise measure aimed to balance equal rights and religious exemptions.



Many spoke in favor of the Evans-Flynn ordinance at the public meeting.

“I’m choosing to take the risk because people need to hear the message,” said Colleen Heaney, a teacher at a religious school who is married to a woman and fears her employer will dismiss her due to her orientation.

While many groups came to speak at the hearing in support of added protections for LGBT individuals, opposition to the ordinance was strong.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Rev. Jerry Prevo, pastor at Anchorage Baptist Temple, called the ordinance an “outright attack on Christianity, Christian organizations, churches, and religious schools,” in all capital letters.

This isn’t the first time the Assembly has tried to pass a similar ordinance.

In 2009, the assembly passed a similar ordinance that was vetoed by then-mayor Dan Sullivan. Supporters tried again with a referendum in 2012, but it failed to pass.

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