ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Get ready to hear a lot more about gender and the use of public space this year. A previously filed petition based on which bathroom or locker room a person is allowed to use will officially appear on the 2018 ballot during the next Regular Municipal Election.
According to a news release issued Thursday morning by the Municipal Clerk's Office, what's being called "Proposition 1" will be up for the public's vote next April. The proposition is based on the certified petition labeled “Regulating Access to Facilities Such as Locker Rooms and Bathrooms on the Basis of Sex at Birth, Rather Than Gender Identity.”
KTUU previously reported on this issue when the petition was initially filed last week. At that time, the group behind the petition said it was an issue of "segregation." Jim Minnery, the president of Alaska Family Action, stated, "Not everyone should have access to any intimate space they want because of how they feel."
In a statement issued by Minnery, he said that the petition had collected and subsequently submitted "close to 8,500 signatures." In the news release from the clerks office, they state that the final number confirmed by the office was stated to be "over 6,200," after officials removed thousands of signatures that were either "duplicates or signatures that did not comply with code."
The requirement for the petition to become a ballot proposition was 5,754 signatures, which was narrowly cleared by the obtained figure of over 6,200.
That requirement is based on the number of voters who cast ballots last election. "The Anchorage Municipal Charter requires a petition to be signed by a number of qualified voters equal to at least ten percent of the voters who cast ballots at the last regular mayor election; in this instance that is at least 5,754 signatures," the clerks office wrote in their statement.
Opponents of the proposition say it could lead to discrimination. "Anchorage residents know we all took a huge step towards fair and equal treatment for everyone when we passed our non-discrimination ordinance two years ago,” said Fair Anchorage Community Organizer Andrea Zekis in a statement issued in response to the news early Thursday.
In opposition, Minnery said that, "from the beginning, this was never against anyone or anything." He continued to say that private businesses and churches shouldn't be "coerced by Government to let men use women's facilities."
Zekis said that Fair Anchorage is "fully committed to fighting Minnery all the way to the ballot box."
"We’ll ensure voters hear first-hand what it means to be transgender in Anchorage. [...] They will come to know it is our transgender neighbors who live in fear and most need our compassion and protection,” Zekis said.
Fair Anchorage had ran an opposing petition campaign to show general interest, gathering signatures to gauge how many potentially opposed the proposition presented by Minnery. That campaign allegedly received "over 8,000" signatures both in person and online from those apposing the promotion of Proposition 1. It is not yet known how many of those 8,000 were "qualified" under the same requirements from the Anchorage Municipal Charter, as the signatures were not part of a submitted proposition.
Now, the deciding factor will go to the electorate, who will decide its fate in April. Until then, however, both sides of the debate will represent their arguments ahead of the voting day.