ANCHORAGE, Alaska (BP) -- A controversial proposal in Anchorage, Alaska, that would have added protections based on "sexual orientation" and "transgender identity" to the city's code has been handily defeated, defying a pre-election survey and proving once again that voters often say one thing on issues of homosexuality and then do another.
The proposal, known as Proposition 5, failed by a margin of 58-42 percent. A poll conducted March 25-26 that used the exact language found on the ballot showed Prop 5 winning, 50-41 percent, with 9 percent undecided.
The proposal would have prevented discrimination based on both classifications, but the debate focused mostly on the definition of "transgender identity," and a group opposed to the proposal ran a series of TV ads featuring cartoon characters, showing how far the proposed law could go. In one ad, a depiction of a man curling a dumbbell was shown, as a female narrator says, "Steve owns a gym in Anchorage, but if Proposition 5 passes, Steve will be forced to open the women's locker room to anyone who claims a female identity." At that moment, a cartoon depiction of a man with hairy arms and legs, wearing spandex, walks into the women's locker room. The narrator continues, "If Steve says 'yes,' he'll lose customers, and if he says 'no,' he can be fined or imprisoned."
A second commercial warned that religious bookstore owners could be fined or imprisoned if they refused to hire gays. A third commercial showed a cartoon depiction of a man wearing a pink dress applying for a daycare center job. The commercials, aired in the final days of the campaign, may have made a difference.
Gay groups and their supporters said the ads were demeaning, but the group behind them, Protect Your Rights, said that because the proposal did not define "transgender identity," privacy and religious freedom truly were threatened.
Austin R. Nimmocks, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, wrote a column for Townhall.com and said the proposal did threaten religious freedom.
"Any proclamation that the addition of 'sexual orientation' and 'transgender identity' to the law does not impact religious freedom demonstrates a woeful ignorance of the legal landscape where these provisions have been enacted across the country," Nimmocks said. "... No one should be forced to celebrate behavior that directly conflicts with their beliefs."
The ballot language asked, "Shall the current Municipal Code sections providing legal protections against discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, age, physical disability, and mental disability be amended to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender identity?"
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.