- Associated Press - Thursday, April 13, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Alaska Gov. Bill Walker’s appointment of a transgender man to the state human rights commission has evoked displeasure from conservative lawmakers.

The state senate voted Wednesday to delay a joint session on whether to confirm Walker’s appointments, KTOO-FM (https://bit.ly/2oCMk1M) reported.

The state’s sex discrimination ban is in jeopardy of changing to include gender identity and sexual orientation if Drew Phoenix of Fairbanks is selected, those opposing the nomination have said.

Phoenix previously served as executive director of an Alaska LGBT advocacy organization. He also is an ordained Methodist minister, according to the report.

“I’m a firm believer that the better able we are to eliminate any threat of discrimination for individuals, the better off our entire state will be in terms of peace and safety and economic and healthy well-being,” Phoenix said.

Senate President Pete Kelly said the commission would be wrong to include protections that lawmakers didn’t intend.

“It seems they’re planning to usurp the Legislature’s authority,” Kelly said during a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “I just want to know if we’re going to add another person to the Human Rights Commission that holds views that are out of step with the rest of Alaska.”

State law says the session to decide on Walker’s appointments should end on Sunday, but the state constitution allows it to continue until May 17, according to the report.

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Information from: KTOO-FM, https://www.ktoo.org

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