By giving Prevo's minions this "special right," she has made a name for herself in the annals of shameful Alaska politicians, that will outlast her public service itself. She also may have violated her oath of office.
Even worse, she has allowed Rev. Jerry Prevo to claim some sort of moral victory, in his fight against what he calls "the homosexual agenda."
We may soon see signs in Anchorage that read "No Faggots or Dogs Allowed." There may be no way to stop people from putting up such signs. I'm sure a lot of tourists will love taking photographs of the signs.
As was the case throughout late May and early June, the best coverage of the fight for civil rights and against granting the Anchorage Baptist Temple ANOTHER special right, has been led by our progressive blogs. Mention should be made, though, of Julia O'Malley's continuing efforts on this subject at the Anchorage Daily News. Also, Krestia DeGeorge provided a thoughtful, hard-hitting article on this at the Anchorage Press. He discusses an email he got that he was able to trace back to the Anchorage Baptist Temple:
The “invasion” that this references, of course, is the ordinance. The ordinance prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity when it comes to employment, housing and a few other things (or it did when it was originally written; assembly members keep altering the language, and will likely continue to do so).
According to the email, here’s what that means: “The liberals on the Anchorage Assembly are trying to pass an ordinance to give ‘special rights’ to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and of all things transgender perverts.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard the “special rights” complaint, but that doesn’t make it any more intelligible. When did freedom from discrimination become a special right? Is the Anchorage Baptist Temple aware of other groups who continue to silently suffer legal discrimination without that special right?
But arguments aside (and the email doesn’t really contain many of them anyway) what struck me about it was the tone.
It wasn’t so much hate-filled as fear-inducing (one of the all-caps sections states that “FOR THE SAKE OF OUR CHILDREN, GRANDCHILDREN, RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, CHURCHES, CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS, WE MUST STOP THIS NEW ORDINANCE IN ANCHORAGE.” And more than fear-mongering even, it was bent on dividing the world as cleanly as possible between “us” and “them.”
Us = “righteous citizens.” Them = “deviants”, “perverts”, a “scourge.”
There’s even a weirdly populist bent; it veers off into something that flirts with class warfare: “HOMOSEXUALS ARE NOT BEING DEPRIVED OF JOBS, PLACES TO LIVE OR LOANS. THEY HOLD HIGH POLITICAL OFFICES, WELL-PAYING CORPORATE POSITIONS, AND ARE, AS A WHOLE, IN A HIGHER INCOME BRACKET.”
The whole point of this exercise was reinforcing lines that keep some people in and others out, the lines that divide those who belong from those who don’t.
DeGeorge goes on to quote from Julia O'Malley's article from two weeks ago, dealing with her interview with Dr. Prevo. He then observes:
[M]uch of his activity in response to this ordinance strikes me as being less about affecting public policy and more about benefiting of his congregation. And part of that is keeping those personal relationships with gays or lesbians—the ones with the power to change people’s minds—from happening to his flock.
Shannyn Moore has been quite stark in her challenge to authorities to question what it is Prevo is doing in the political arena. For decades, Ray Metcalfe and others have been drawing public attention to the ways Prevo uses money raised by a tax-exempt religious organization, to shove a very partisan political agenda down everyone's throats. Moore wrote on this last week:
Time to register as a PAC. Time to pay taxes. Here’s the message from Hate Activist and “Pastor” Jerry Prevo to his “righteous” followers:
Moore goes on to print the same letter that bothered DeGeorge so fully.
Rather than list all of the intense blog coverage of this issue here, Mel Green at Henkimaa has done this for us already. Her site is by far the best on coverage of this battle against hate and fear. Mel's post, Three Assembly Hearings: A Compilation, is a sterling example of what members of our Alaska Progressive bloggers community can do, that the mainstream media simply cannot. In her article, Mel has catalogued most of, if not all, the articles written on this controversy since it began.
Green's post describes 81 articles written locally between June 4th and June 19th. Of these, 68 were written by blogs on Progressive Alaska's progressive blog list; Eleven emanated from Alaska's mainstream media outlets. Here's the breakdown:
Bent Alaska - 15
Henkimaa - 13
Alaska Commons - 8
Anchorage Daily News - 6
The Mudflats - 5
Progressive Alaska - 5
SOS Alaska - 5
The Immoral Minority - 4
Just a Girl from Homer - 3
Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis - 2
Think Alaska - 2
Alaska Dispatch - 2
Anchorage Press - 2
KTUU - 1
......an so on .........
Green also wrote an important article on how the Anchorage Daily News editors seem to be, once again, spinning the heck out of their narrative of Ossiander's moves, and the morphing of this ordinance over the past ten days:
You might recall that I wrote a post about the Outside influence issue last week. Fascinatingly, finally now in this doomsaying article, Megan Holland finally mentions the problem — the first time I’ve seen it mentioned in the ADN (unless I missed something — & I am willing to be corrected). Holland writes:
Opponents of the measure have been organized, showing up by the hundreds, bringing in Christian youth groups, and busing in churchgoers from Mat-Su, some of whom work in Anchorage.
Wow, finally some acknowledgment from the city’s newspaper-of-record!
A few days ago a friend of mine wrote to the Assembly objecting to permitting the testimony of non-Anchorage residents. He received a reply back from Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander, which he shared with me. The pertinent parts (emphasis added):
The decisions on how best to conduct the hearings are made by the chair. I have taken into consideration the requests to limit testimony to residents of the municipality and have decided against that for several reasons. Many, many of the people who work and play in our town live in the Valley. Anchorage is a true regional city in the sense that its impact extends beyond its physical boundaries in many ways.
And so therefore those people who work & play in Anchorage but do not pay Anchorage taxes or vote in Anchorage elections should have the right to influence our elected representatives to permit discrimination against Anchorage citizens?
Try it this way:
Many, many of the people who work and play in our country
live in Canada or Mexico, or hold green cards from other nations. The United States is a true regional power — in fact a world power — in the sense that its impact extends beyond its physical boundaries in many ways.
So let’s let Canadian, Mexican, & other foreign citizens come testify before Congress to influence U.S. lawmakers’ decisions about how to govern U.S. citizens!
I think not.
The most honest attempt by the local mainstream media to report on this evolving situation may have been yesterday's report, centering on Ossiander and the changes the ordinance is undergoing, by KSKA's Len Anderson. He brings up Ossiander's possible violation of her oath of office, without detailing or citing the violation.
image - from a photo by Tlingit artist, Nicholas Galanin