This was an amazing week for the rights of Alaskans. For the first time anywhere in our nation a standalone, anti-transgender “bathroom bill” – Prop 1 – was defeated at the ballot box. And it was the voters of Anchorage who did it!
For almost a year, the partners of Fair Anchorage (ACLU of Alaska, Pride Foundation, Identity, Inc., Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, Freedom for All Americans, Alaskans Together for Equality, the Human Rights Campaign, and Anchorage's newly created Transgender Leadership Council) have been doing the amazing work of organizing our community to oppose Prop 1.
In looking back on the past year, what I’m most proud of isn’t just getting the win, although that was tremendously important, but I’m truly moved that this campaign was committed to centering this effort around the voices and experiences of the transgender community itself. As a result, Fair Anchorage wasn’t just a campaign, but a platform for the transgender community to raise their voices, share their experiences, and lead.
And lead they did. From Fair Anchorage’s Co-Chair Denise Sudbeck, to Executive Committee Members Samuel Ohana and Danny Earll, to our Field Organizer Lillian Lennon, and all those who participated in the Transgender Leadership Council, our transgender friends, loved ones, and neighbors stepped up and spoke out. To all of you, I say this: The election results show your neighbors heard you and it made a difference.
I am also proud of the support we at the ACLU were able to provide these incredible people. Of the $824,000 the campaign raised, the largest investment, over $200,000, came from the ACLU. I want to make clear that our commitment and support won’t diminish now that victory is in hand.
There is plenty of work to do to empower and support the transgender community. There are still communities in Alaska, and the state of Alaska itself, that do not have clearly articulated legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community. We also must recognize that while we won this victory, there were still 47% of Anchorage voters who said they didn’t think transgender folks deserved the same rights as everyone else. That is a number too high to guarantee the merchants of inequality behind Prop 1 won’t try again, or even that they can’t succeed if we as a community don't remain steadfast.
I encourage everyone to take today to celebrate and reflect on this historic win. Tomorrow the timeless fight to protect the rights of ALL will begin again and the ACLU will be standing with our allies to do just that. We only ask that you do the same.
Joshua A. Decker