Anchorage voters reject bathroom protection referendum

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (April 12, 2018) — Voters in Alaska's largest city are on track to becoming the first in the U.S. to defeat a so-called bathroom bill in a referendum that asked them to require people using public bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender at birth.

Prevo

A first in The Last Frontier

Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

Dr. Jerry Prevo, who pastors Anchorage Baptist Temple, tells OneNewsNow the Anchorage ordinance puts women at risk when they use the facilities.

"In fact, after the vote we had a man who was caught in a women's restroom looking over in the stall next door – and so it is an issue," he argues. "I'm just afraid our side did not have the resources to get that word out to more of the women [in Anchorage]."

Those pushing for passage of the referendum were outspent six-to-one, much of that money coming from pro-transgender donors from states outside Alaska. But the outcome doesn't just reflect the 49th state, says Pastor Prevo.

"I hate to see our country accepting homosexuality [or transgenderism] as an acceptable alternative lifestyle ...," he shares. "I think it's sending the wrong message to a lot of young people. It's going to further deteriorate the morality of the United States of America, and I'm afraid it may bring the judgment of God upon America."

So for women impacted by such laws, Prevo strongly suggests they have another woman accompany them to restrooms – but he's fearful other women will avoid using restrooms at all.

The initiative asked Anchorage's voters to repeal an ordinance passed in 2015 that prevented discrimination based on sexual orientation and added a clause that would have prevented transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identities.

Voting by mail and in person ended on April 3 and the repeal effort was losing 53-47 percent as of Monday, with nearly 78,000 votes counted and only several hundred to be counted when tallying ends on Friday. Supporters of the referendum have conceded defeat and opponents are claiming victory.

After the result's final tally emerges and it is certified next week, Anchorage will hold the distinction of being the first U.S. voting jurisdiction to defeat such an effort in a stand-alone ballot measure, said Alex Morash, spokesman for the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.

The issue of transgender bathroom access moved into the national spotlight in 2015, after the Houston City Council adopted a nondiscrimination ordinance that included protections for transgender people using restrooms based on gender identity.

Opponents of the ordinance gathered enough signatures for a repeal referendum, then mounted a campaign using the slogan "No Men in Women's Bathrooms." By a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent, the anti-bias ordinance was repealed.

In Massachusetts, voters will be asked in November whether they want to repeal a 2016 state law barring discrimination on the basis of gender identity in public accommodations, including allowing transgender people to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identities.

The Anchorage proposition was filed by Jim and Kim Minnery and their group, Alaska Family Action.

While conceding defeat, Jim Minnery said "we're encouraged that 47 percent of the people in Anchorage didn't buy into the $1 million infusion that the outside LGBT activist groups poured into the city."

Groups opposed to his effort reported receiving about $826,000 in donations while Minnery's campaign effort, Yes on 1 Protect Our Privacy, raised nearly $140,000.

With Alaska's economy emerging from a recession, influential city groups were wary about a possible economic backlash if the repeal was successful.

That happened in North Carolina in 2016 after state lawmakers passed a bathroom bill and the NCAA and NBA pulled games from the state. An Associated Press analysis conducted before lawmakers rolled back the restrictions found the law would cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years.

In Alaska, those against the bathroom bill included oil company BP, the Wells Fargo Bank and Visit Anchorage, which represents the city's tourism industry.

"The experience of North Carolina seems to be a pretty good case study on the national reaction, kind of significant and fairly united national reaction to this kind of ordinance or law or proposition," said John Kauffman, an Anchorage lawyer who campaigned against the measure.

Anchorage is much more isolated than North Carolina and the bathroom measure could have hurt the city, he said.

"Just from a purely economic standpoint, it seems like a really bad idea," Kauffman said of the proposition.

 

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