FAIRBANKS - Today, Mayor Jim Matherly sent the clear message that it is okay to discriminate in Fairbanks by vetoing LGBTQ non-discrimination protections. The mayor has taken this deeply misguided action despite strong support from the Fairbanks City Council, small business owners, other local elected officials, and the public at large.
Ordinance 6093 was passed by the Fairbanks City Council earlier this week after members of the community bravely shared their experience with discrimination in their community. This ordinance would have ensured that members of the LGBTQ community could not be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love. However, this veto means that the residents of Fairbanks still can be discriminated against based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
“Each of us in Fairbanks wants the same thing - to be treated with dignity, respect, and fairness under the law. We applaud the City Council for voting to ensure no one else in Fairbanks will have to silently endure discrimination for who they are or who they love,” said Rose O’Hara Jolley, Alaska Field Manager for PPVNH and Fairbanks resident. “Unfortunately, we are deeply disappointed that Mayor Matherly chose to veto the ordinance, even after hearing from an overwhelming number of Fairbanks residents and the City Council. The Mayor is sending a message that Fairbanks is okay with discrimination against LGBTQ visitors and residents; that’s bad for business and bad for the fabric of our community. We need leaders who will choose to defend the rights of their constituents over playing politics.”
“It is always troubling when elected officials defend discrimination and indignity,” said ACLU of Alaska Executive Director Joshua A. Decker. “Those aren’t American values or Alaskan values. Regardless of Mayor Matherly’s decision today, the ACLU of Alaska doesn’t believe they are Fairbanks’ values either.”
Decker continued, “Mayor Matherly’s explanation that he wants to give this decision to the voters doesn’t hold water. The voters have had and will have their say. That’s what elections for city council and mayor are. Further, voters unhappy with the ordinance could try to put the issue on the ballot themselves. Instead of principled leadership, Mayor Matherly used specious democratic rhetoric to attack the legitimacy of city council decisions and obscure his support for ongoing discrimination.”
Planned Parenthood and the ACLU stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, and is committed to finding other ways to pass these protections. In addition, elected officials who ignore the need for protection from discrimination will be held accountable in the upcoming election in Fairbanks.