Home Politics Community Politics United for Marriage: Anchorage 'Lights the Way to Justice'

United for Marriage: Anchorage 'Lights the Way to Justice' [+VIDEO]


Millions of Americans are watching the Supreme Court closely, as the body hears two cases relating to marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Today, aural arguments for Hollingsworth v. Perry began. The case centers around a ninth circuit court ruling of February 2012, which found the controversial Prop 8 ban of same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional. Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote the opinion of the court, stating that Prop 8 violated the equal protection clause of California state law because it took away the rights of a particular minority without justification. The case could ultimately settle the question of whether or not same-sex marriages are lawful in the Golden State
Tomorrow, the Court takes up a case with even broader possible implications when it takes on the United States v. Windsor. Windsor deals with the question of whether or not Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (the part where marriage is defined as one man and one woman) violates the equal rights clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States constitution. There are also questions regarding whether or not the Court has jurisdiction to decide the case and whether or not Windsor has standing.
In concert with these impending landmark cases coming before the court, a coalition calling themselves “United for Marriage” planned two days of rallies in Washington DC, and over a hundred events around the country to show support for marriage equality.
While the national opinion on marriage equality has radically shifted over the past decade to an overall position of support – a CBS poll yesterday found that 53 percent of Americans feel it should be legal, with 39 percent opposed – Alaska has refused to budge. While the national discussion surrounds recognizing marriage, we’ve chose to take steps backward as we continue to deny basic legal protections for LGBT citizens.
In 2009, Anchorage Ordinance 64 passed the Assembly only to be vetoed by Mayor Dan Sullivan. Last year’s ballot initiative, Prop 5, was soundly defeated in a very shady municipal election. This legislative session in Juneau, we’ve seen the House Majority choose to respond to a question regarding same-sex partnership benefits with a hardy bout of the giggles.
But there is a tiny little rainbow in the middle of the storm. Juneau State Representative Beth Kerttula’s (D-Juneau) House Bill 139 would “prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” The bill, which has thus far been collecting dust while myriad gun bills swarm the halls of the capitol building, is rumored to be nearing a hearing.
However, if this is true, it will be heard by the House State Affairs committee. That committee’s members are Representative Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage), Wes Keller (R-Wasilla), Lynn Gattis (R-Wasilla), Doug Isaacson (R-North Pole), Charisse Milett (R-Anchorage), and Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka).
I’m pretty sure Kriess-Tomkins only gets one vote, which makes the first hurdle in a gauntlet of obstacles a pretty high one to eclipse. But crazier things have happened. It wouldn’t hurt to mention that to them.
However bleak our lawmaker’s intransigence remains, regarding the Constitutional rights we deny on a daily basis to a minority we refuse to recognize; our vibrant, positive, enduring LGBTA community is a force that truly represents the spirit of – and all that is best about – Alaska. So, when the nation turned out to show support for marriage equality as the highest court takes up the issue, over a hundred Alaskans stood in solidarity outside the federal court house in downtown Anchorage, in ten-degree weather, to make our voices heard as well. Here are some sights and sounds: