By Rebecca Palsha
Channel 2 News
12:22 PM AKST, December 8, 2011
Supporters of an equal rights initiative turned in 13,515 signatures today in an attempt to get on the April ballot.
If approved by voters it will provide the same legal protections to gay and transgender Alaskans that are already provided to women, minorities and others.
The City Clerk’s office required 5,871 signatures but One Anchorage, the group campaigning for the proposal, got more than twice that.
Trevor Storrs, a member of One Anchorage, told reporters the initiative focuses on equal rights for everyone who lives in the city.
“I wish we lived in a world where everyone was automatically treated the same, whether or not we agreed or disagreed with who they are as people” Storrs said. “But the reality is a person who works hard, and does a good job can be fired simply because they are gay.”
Former Gov. Tony Knowles and former state Sen. Arliss Sturgulewski are co-chairs of the group.
A similar ordinance went before the Anchorage Assembly and passed in 2009, but was vetoed by Mayor Dan Sullivan.
Sullivan’s office released a statement Thursday saying, “Mayor Sullivan believes a ballot initiative is appropriate in that it allows all citizens to weigh-in on this subject.”
Jim Minnery, with the Alaska Family Council, a group that opposes the initiative now and also did so in 2009, said if it passes it’s an infringement on religious freedom.
“They’re kind of barking up the wrong tree if they want government to require this affirmation by the public of a lifestyle, that, for many people it goes against their religious convictions,” Minnery said.
One Anchorage said it has raised about $90,000 for the campaign.
The clerk’s office has 10 days to verify the signatures.
Voters will have a chance to decide the issue on April 3.
Contact Rebecca Palsha at firstname.lastname@example.org
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