Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 120

03/31/2006 01:00 PM JUDICIARY


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 413 BURNING CAPABILITY OF CIGARETTES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ HB 347 MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE & NOTICE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 415 LIABILITY FOR RECREATIONAL LAND USE TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 415(JUD) Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 03/29/06>
= HJR 32 CONST. AM: BENEFITS & MARRIAGE
Heard & Held
HJR 32 - CONST. AM: BENEFITS & MARRIAGE                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
[Contains brief mention of SJR 20, companion bill to HJR 32.]                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:19:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDERSON  announced  that   the  first  order  of                                                               
business would  be HOUSE  JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 32,  Proposing an                                                               
amendment  to the  section of  the Constitution  of the  State of                                                               
Alaska relating to marriage.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:20:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SCOTT  MILLER observed  that some  who testify  on HJR  32 -  and                                                               
perhaps  even some  members of  the committee  - seem  to believe                                                               
that homosexuality  represents some kind of  perverse choice, and                                                               
that laws  like this are  necessary to label that  perversity for                                                               
society and  maybe even to  influence that choice.   However, one                                                               
can hardly  think of a  social situation in America  that confers                                                               
so  little  gain  and  yet   so  much  danger,  frustration,  and                                                               
heartache as  being gay.   Why would  anyone ever "choose"  to be                                                               
persecuted, ridiculed, and legislated  into the fringes, possibly                                                               
to end  up crucified  on a  barbed wire fence  in Wyoming  as one                                                               
college  student was?   Why  would anyone  persevere through  all                                                               
that  for   a  lifetime,  or   choose  to  live  in   a  same-sex                                                               
relationship for decades, if it  were not an honest expression of                                                               
his/her true identity?                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. MILLER observed,  then, that if such is not  a "choice," then                                                               
same-sex couples  are either  in the grip  of Satan,  deluded, or                                                               
really and truly  gay.  He said he rejects  the first explanation                                                               
because  believing  in  such  would   foster  the  same  kind  of                                                               
atmosphere that surrounded  the Salem witch trials;  in that kind                                                               
of society,  no one is  ever free  from suspicion, which  in turn                                                               
means  that no  one  is ever  free  and only  those  who lie  the                                                               
loudest are safe.   Of the two remaining  explanations for saying                                                               
one is gay -  either one is deluded or is  honestly and truly gay                                                               
- he  pointed out  that there is  a lot of  evidence that  such a                                                               
person is  not deluded, though  perhaps some people might  say or                                                               
think  they are  gay but  aren't.   However, few,  if any  of the                                                               
latter are in committed same-sex relationships.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.   MILLER  pointed   out  that   the  American   Psychological                                                               
Association  holds clearly  that  homosexuality is  not a  mental                                                               
disorder, hence  there is no  need for a  cure.  He  relayed that                                                               
all his  life he has had  gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (GLBT)                                                               
friends,  acquaintances, teachers,  and professional  associates,                                                               
and surmised  that so, too,  have committee members  whether they                                                               
knew  it or  not.   Many of  these people,  he added,  are smart,                                                               
competent,  creative, and  they  manage great  public and  family                                                               
responsibilities with skill and clarity.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. MILLER explained that his  daughter is a lesbian, adding that                                                               
she is  a former honor  student who is  pursuing a career  in law                                                               
and public health.  He went on to say:                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     She is  smarter, better organized, and  more articulate                                                                    
     than I  am.  She  has navigated a complicated  life and                                                                    
     world for 25 years  intelligently and productively, and                                                                    
     she has  been unwaveringly  clear about  her sexuality,                                                                    
     without making  a big deal  about it, since she  was 12                                                                    
     [years old].   I don't think  she is deluded.   I think                                                                    
     she is  honest, brave, and  admirable, and I'd  like to                                                                    
     think there is a future for  her in the state where she                                                                    
     was born.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     I don't  expect the average  voter to know how  to deal                                                                    
     with   all  this.     Most   people   don't  have   the                                                                    
     information,    the   experience,    the   intellectual                                                                    
     training,  or the  self-awareness to  treat this  issue                                                                    
     fairly.   But  when Alaskan  citizens are  being honest                                                                    
     about  who  they truly  are,  and  the State  moves  to                                                                    
     punish  them  for  that, society  has  a  big  problem.                                                                    
     That's  where  legislators like  you  need  to step  in                                                                    
     above the  fray and  above politics.   I hope  you will                                                                    
     accept  that responsibility  and  defeat this  measure.                                                                    
     Thank you.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:24:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARSHA BUCK, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays                                                                 
(PFLAG) Juneau, relayed that she would be speaking in opposition                                                                
to HJR 32.  She said:                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     This  resolution has  a  current,  direct, and  harmful                                                                    
     effect on my  daughter and on her family,  and on many,                                                                    
     many of  my Alaskan friends and  their long-term, same-                                                                    
     sex-partner  families,  and  on  numerous  heterosexual                                                                    
     domestic-partner  families  who   live  throughout  our                                                                    
     great state.   And I  wonder how many of  your families                                                                    
     it affects as  well?  If you think only  of the current                                                                    
     effect  on  your  families, that  might  appear  to  be                                                                    
     simply a rhetorical question, because  many of us think                                                                    
     we don't know of any  same-sex couples in our immediate                                                                    
     family.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     But on a nationwide  basis, approximately one-fourth of                                                                    
     all   extended  families   contain   a  gay,   lesbian,                                                                    
     bisexual,  or transgender  family  member.   Now,  that                                                                    
     doesn't necessarily  mean that  everyone in  the family                                                                    
     knows that a member is  gay, or lesbian, or [bisexual],                                                                    
     or accepts  the fact that the  member is gay.   But the                                                                    
     family member is there nonetheless  - silence or denial                                                                    
     doesn't make them go away.   It would behoove all of us                                                                    
     to ask:   "Which niece,  which nephew, which  child, or                                                                    
     which  grandchild might  this  resolution affect  right                                                                    
     now?" and  perhaps, "Am I  loving enough so that  I can                                                                    
     listen as  my family member shares  this personal truth                                                                    
     when it occurs?"                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     In  addition,  we  must consider  the  future,  because                                                                    
     we're looking  at a potential  constitutional amendment                                                                    
     here.   Which of  our children, our  grandchildren, our                                                                    
     great grandchildren,  or our cousins, or  grand nieces,                                                                    
     or grand nephews will unavoidably  be gay or lesbian or                                                                    
     bisexual  as  they  mature?   Research  shared  in  the                                                                    
     segment of 60 Minutes  shown on CBS television recently                                                                  
     ... made it clear that  scientists don't yet know why a                                                                    
     person is gay  or lesbian, but that it's  clear, by the                                                                    
     scientific research  that's being conducted  right now,                                                                    
     that the reasons are a  combination of genetics and ...                                                                    
     hormonal factors - not personal choice.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     So  if  you  are  considering passing  HJR  32  out  of                                                                    
     committee,  which members  of your  family will  you be                                                                    
     harming?  In  addition to my loved ones,  which of your                                                                    
     loved ones  will be denied benefits  [either] currently                                                                    
     or in the future? ... Please  vote no on HJR 32.  Thank                                                                    
     you.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:27:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JUDY CRONDAHL said:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     We  all agree  that families  are important.   Families                                                                    
     provide the  basic protections for individuals  and the                                                                    
     building  blocks of  our communities  and society.  ...                                                                    
     Government  is the  entity empowered  to set  the rules                                                                    
     for   our   society   and   provide   protections   for                                                                    
     individuals,  families,  and   communities.    You,  as                                                                    
     legislators,  have  a  great responsibility  to  ensure                                                                    
     that  all Alaskans  have access  to the  necessities of                                                                    
     life   and   fair   treatment  within   our   families,                                                                    
     communities, and society.  There  are only 60 of you to                                                                    
     do this  and you  are limited  to whatever  actions you                                                                    
     can agree  on within  a constitutionally  mandated 120-                                                                    
     day session.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     What  are the  prevailing problems  in our  state?   We                                                                    
     have a high  rate of alcohol abuse,  which has severely                                                                    
     impacted  many  families  in our  state,  resulting  in                                                                    
     child  abuse  and  neglect,  accidental  injuries,  and                                                                    
     deaths.  We have a  high rate of poverty, especially in                                                                    
     our  rural  areas,  many  of   which  also  lack  basic                                                                    
     sanitation   facilities   and    other   20th   century                                                                    
     amenities.    High  fuel  prices,   a  boon  for  state                                                                    
     government,  have created  hardships for  many who  are                                                                    
     living  on  the  economic  edge,  and  [have]  impacted                                                                    
     services for us all.   These are not our only problems,                                                                    
     but I  offer them as  examples of the  important issues                                                                    
     facing  state   government  and  you  as   our  elected                                                                    
     representatives.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Now,  [comes]  the  issue   of  benefits  for  same-sex                                                                    
     couples and the proposal embodied  in HJR 32.  First of                                                                    
     all, I am really puzzled  by the amendment changing the                                                                    
     title   from  "Marriage"   to  "Marriage   and  related                                                                    
     limitations."   I  may  have a  more  positive view  of                                                                    
     marriage  than the  sponsors of  this resolution,  but,                                                                    
     having been  married for almost  41 years, I  looked on                                                                    
     marriage as  an expansion of opportunities  rather than                                                                    
     a limitation or  handicap.  [Second], as  to the stated                                                                    
     purpose of  this resolution, how does  denying benefits                                                                    
     to anyone help  anyone else?  How does an  injury to my                                                                    
     friends'  families  protect  either  my  family  or  my                                                                    
     marriage?                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Is the provision  of benefits one of  the most pressing                                                                    
     problems in our  state, worthy of even  one hour's time                                                                    
     in  a 120-day  session?   Does the  time spent  denying                                                                    
     partner benefits  take away from time  spent preventing                                                                    
     oil spills on the North Slope?   How will the denial of                                                                    
     partner  benefits help  the family  that cannot  afford                                                                    
     fuel oil?   Are some of you Christians?   At the end of                                                                    
     your lives will  you be able to say that  you used your                                                                    
     talents  wisely?   Will you  be  able to  say that  you                                                                    
     loved  your neighbors  as yourselves?    That you  used                                                                    
     your talents  to feed the  hungry, house the  poor, and                                                                    
     comfort the ill?                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Or are  you using your  talents to turn  people against                                                                    
     each other,  spread fear,  and foment  hatred?   Do you                                                                    
     use your high positions  to generate compassion or pass                                                                    
     judgment?  How will you be  judged?  If some of you are                                                                    
     not Christians, if the work  you leave behind after you                                                                    
     die is your  only shot at immortality, how  do you want                                                                    
     your game  scored?  Will  it be  by money in  the bank,                                                                    
     number  of  toys left  behind,  fearful  enemies, or  a                                                                    
     loving  family and  friends?   Do  family values  apply                                                                    
     only to  certain kinds  of families, or  do we  want to                                                                    
     recognize the potential value of all families?                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     You are the leaders in our  society and our state - you                                                                    
     have  a great  responsibility to  use your  talents and                                                                    
     time to  protect individuals and families,  to create a                                                                    
     better  society and  state through  fair treatment  for                                                                    
     all.   Please do not  waste precious time  on something                                                                    
     that  does just  the  opposite; instead,  focus on  the                                                                    
     many  problems  that are  so  important  and those  for                                                                    
     which   solutions   will   bring   Alaskans   together.                                                                    
     Divisiveness is not  good for families, it  is not good                                                                    
     for  communities,  and  it  is  not  good  for  Alaska.                                                                    
     Please vote no on HJR 32.  Thank you.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:31:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JERI MUSETH relayed that she would be speaking in opposition to                                                                 
HJR 32.  She said:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     I have lived in Alaska for  more than 42 years, and I'm                                                                    
     presently employed  as a  project manager  working with                                                                    
     elders;  I'm  also  a  student  at  the  University  of                                                                    
     Alaska.     I'm  widowed,  I  raised   my  daughter  in                                                                    
     Southeastern Alaska, and  I've watched my grandchildren                                                                    
     grow  up Alaskan.   My  family  and I  live a  straight                                                                    
     lifestyle,  but I'm  fortunate enough  to have  friends                                                                    
     who participate  in same-sex partnerships.   My friends                                                                    
     are  professionally   employed  in   various  positions                                                                    
     around the  community; some have raised  or are raising                                                                    
     families,  they  buy  homes,  they  contribute  to  the                                                                    
     economy, they  do volunteer work  in the  community, go                                                                    
     to  church, and  participate  in loving  relationships.                                                                    
     In short, they live lives very similar to you and me.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     ... [House  Joint Resolution 32] proposes  to amend the                                                                    
     Alaska [State]  Constitution ...;  for five  years this                                                                    
     paragraph  has served  the purposes  of the  people who                                                                    
     voted  for  the amendment.    When  the Alaska  Supreme                                                                    
     Court  decision,  based  on equal  protection,  decided                                                                    
     that  same-sex partners  were  entitled  to health  and                                                                    
     other benefits  afforded a  spouse, some  residents did                                                                    
     become  upset.   The  [Alaska]  Supreme Court  decision                                                                    
     does  not undercut  the institution  of marriage.   And                                                                    
     because there are actually not  many state employees in                                                                    
     same-sex [relationships],  the decision will  not place                                                                    
     a significant financial burden on the state. ...                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     I just  had to do a  research paper on this  topic, pro                                                                    
     and con,  on civil rights  [for] gays - it  was lengthy                                                                    
     research  - and  what I  found was,  a lot  of various,                                                                    
     interesting reasoning.   And  it seems like  people are                                                                    
     in this corner and this  [other] corner, and they don't                                                                    
     seem  to slide  and meet  in the  middle.   So, as  I'm                                                                    
     going  through  this,  I'm  wondering,  if  [providing]                                                                    
     benefits for  same-sex partners is  not going to  put a                                                                    
     financial burden  on the  state or  other participating                                                                    
     businesses or agencies, then what's  the purpose of the                                                                    
     ... [resolution]?                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     This country  was founded on  the notion  of separation                                                                    
     of church  and state.   If this [resolution] ...  has a                                                                    
     purely religious  purpose, it's [a] clear  violation of                                                                    
     the  separation  of  church   and  state.    The  bible                                                                    
     actually has no  standing in American law,  and this is                                                                    
     made  clear by  the intent  of the  First Amendment  to                                                                    
     U.S. Constitution.   Not all  religions have  a problem                                                                    
     with homosexuality.  This  ... [resolution] considers a                                                                    
     serious  civil  rights  issue.     Besides  health  and                                                                    
     pension  benefits, it  denies  a partner  the right  to                                                                    
     make  emergency medical  decisions  for their  partner,                                                                    
     inherit   mutually   purchased    property,   and   add                                                                    
     additional  health  insurance  for natural  or  adopted                                                                    
     children.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska has one  of the best state  constitutions in the                                                                    
     country, even  50 years  after its adoption.   It  is a                                                                    
     fundamental  document that  people  have  not tried  to                                                                    
     change every time the courts  do [something] they don't                                                                    
     like.     We  need   to  respect  our   [Alaska  State]                                                                    
     Constitution  and  all  the people  that  it  protects.                                                                    
     Amending  the [Alaska  State]  Constitution to  remove,                                                                    
     rather  than  enhance,  protection is  not  painting  a                                                                    
     flattering  picture  for  the  people  of  this  state.                                                                    
     Oppression  can never  be accepted  as normal.   And  I                                                                    
     thank  you   for  your  valuable  time,   and  for  the                                                                    
     consideration of my viewpoint.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:36:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EVE  DILLINGHAM,   Professor;  Representative,   Faculty  Senate,                                                               
University of  Alaska Southeast (UAS),  read a  resolution passed                                                               
by the  Faculty Senate  on March 24,  2006; that  resolution read                                                               
[original  punctuation   provided  along  with   some  formatting                                                               
changes]:                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     RESOLUTION  ON  CONSTITUTIONAL  AMENDMENT:  BENEFITS  &                                                                  
     MARRIAGE                                                                                                                 
     (SJR 20 AND HJR 32)                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     WHEREAS,  Discrimination against  faculty on  the basis                                                                  
     of  marital  status  is  expressly  prohibited  by  the                                                                    
     University  of Alaska  Board  of  Regents Statement  of                                                                    
     Non-discrimination; and                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     WHEREAS, the UAS Faculty  Senate affirms the importance                                                                  
     of   complying    with   university   nondiscrimination                                                                    
     policies; and                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     WHEREAS,  to  comply  with  SJR   20  and  HJR  32  the                                                                  
     university   would   deny  financially   interdependent                                                                    
     partners (FIPs)  insurance benefits,  family membership                                                                    
     at  the  Student  Recreation Center,  tuition  waivers,                                                                    
     faculty housing, and  other valuable benefits currently                                                                    
     offered  counter   to  university   policy  prohibiting                                                                    
     discrimination based on marital status; and                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     WHEREAS,  The  Faculty  Senate affirms  that  providing                                                                  
     insurance and other benefits to  FIPs is a valuable way                                                                    
     to recruit and retain excellent faculty; now                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     THEREFORE BE  IT RESOLVED, That the  UAS Faculty Senate                                                                  
     is opposed to SJR 20/HJR 32; and                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     BE  IT FURTHER  RESOLVED, That  the UAS  Faculty Senate                                                                  
     commends   the    University   of    Alaska   statewide                                                                    
     administration for  its ongoing support  of financially                                                                    
     interdependent partner (FIPs) benefits.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   ANDERSON  surmised   that  according   to  UAS's                                                               
resolution, people  in opposite-sex domestic  relationships could                                                               
expect to receive benefits as well.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DILLINGHAM  explained that  according  to  [UAS] policy,  at                                                               
least 13 criteria must  be met in order for one  to be defined as                                                               
a financially  interdependent partner, and if  those criteria are                                                               
met, then one  is entitled to benefits regardless  of whether the                                                               
relationship  is same-sex  or  opposite-sex.   In  response to  a                                                               
question, she said that the  University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF)                                                               
Faculty Senate has  an identical resolution, but she  is not sure                                                               
whether the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) does.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA said  that if  HJR 32  passes, one  group of                                                               
employees will  get health benefits  for their whole  families as                                                               
part of their pay package, while  the other group will be getting                                                               
less of a pay  package for the same work.   He surmised that this                                                               
is the point being made by the UAS resolution, that it's a pay-                                                                 
package issue, a "sweat-equity-at-work" issue.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:40:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DIANE MAYER said she is opposed HJR 32, and asked the committee                                                                 
to vote no on it.  She went on to say:                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     After  a  job,  health  care is  the  biggest  [factor]                                                                    
     providing  for  family  security.   All  state  workers                                                                    
     deserve equal access to  their employee family benefits                                                                    
     - not just  those who are also allowed to  marry.  This                                                                    
     is an issue of fair  treatment of individuals, and good                                                                    
     business for the State.   Access to healthcare helps to                                                                    
     prevent  medical emergencies,  and  to  cope when  they                                                                    
     hit.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Why  would  we  want   a  State  benefits  system  that                                                                    
     unnecessarily puts some employees  at risk of financial                                                                    
     disaster from family  medical emergencies, particularly                                                                    
     while protecting  their peers from the  same stress and                                                                    
     uncertainty?   Why would you wish  some employees fewer                                                                    
     options than you  have for your own family  in a health                                                                    
     crises?   And why create this  discrepancy knowing that                                                                    
     such added stress and suffering,  felt by one employee,                                                                    
     would  inevitably impact  ...  [his/her] coworkers  and                                                                    
     lower the office productivity.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     Given  the unanimous  decision  of  the Alaska  Supreme                                                                    
     Court,  the  State has  an  opportunity  to expand,  at                                                                    
     minimal cost, healthcare to  more Alaskans, and improve                                                                    
     the  economic security  of  a minority  -  its gay  and                                                                    
     lesbian  employees  who  are  in  committed,  long-term                                                                    
     relationships.   From a business point  of view, Alaska                                                                    
     should jump at this  opportunity.  Whether some members                                                                    
     like   it  or   not,  there   are  many   talented  and                                                                    
     hardworking  gay and  lesbian  people  employed by  the                                                                    
     State of  Alaska.   And whether  you recognize  them or                                                                    
     not, they  are daily making contributions  that benefit                                                                    
     us all.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The  State invests  in each  employee, their  training,                                                                    
     and their experience.   We count on  their judgment and                                                                    
     attention on  the job.   We should  put in  place every                                                                    
     workable   option  that   improves  the   security  and                                                                    
     stability of our  work force.  And we  should end these                                                                    
     costly,  divisive,  and  losing  court  battles.    Our                                                                    
     [Alaska  State] Constitution  states  that all  persons                                                                    
     have a  natural right to  the enjoyment of  the rewards                                                                    
     of  their  industry,  and   holds  as  its  fundamental                                                                    
     premise  that all  persons are  equal  and entitled  to                                                                    
     equal  rights, opportunity,  and  protection under  the                                                                    
     law.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     This  does   not  conflict  with  the   1998  amendment                                                                    
     defining  marriage as  between one  man and  one woman.                                                                    
     Nor  are  relationships   between  consenting  same-sex                                                                    
     couples  illegal.   The  Alaska  Supreme  Court got  it                                                                    
     right last October.   The case was  not about marriage,                                                                    
     but about all State  employees [having] equal access to                                                                    
     their  employment   benefits.     To  state,   as  this                                                                    
     resolution  does,  that,  quote,  "no  other  union  is                                                                    
     similarly situated  to marriage", is  blatantly untrue;                                                                    
     if  it  were  true  we  wouldn't  be  here,  [and]  you                                                                    
     wouldn't  have had  much of  the  testimony you've  had                                                                    
     already.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. MAYER concluded:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     From  there,  HJR 32  is  just  simply poorly  drafted,                                                                    
     confusing,  and difficult  to interpret.   What  is ...                                                                    
     "quality  of  marriage"  anyway?     And  who  will  be                                                                    
     affected  in  the  end?   Please  end  this  attack  on                                                                    
     minorities and  on our [Alaska State]  Constitution.  I                                                                    
     urge [your  to] respect  the diversity of  Alaskans, to                                                                    
     stand up  for privacy  and for  fairness and  for equal                                                                    
     opportunities in Alaska.  Please  vote against HJR 32 -                                                                    
     it's good business for Alaska.  Thank you.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:45:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LEE  PARKER,  after noting  that  she  is  a resident  of  Juneau                                                               
currently serving  in Antarctica,  said that she  doesn't support                                                               
HJR  32 and  doesn't really  quite understand  its purpose.   For                                                               
example, is it designed to  protect married couples as defined as                                                               
one man and  one woman, and, given that definition,  if HJR 32 is                                                               
not passed,  what would  married couples lose?   Would  they lose                                                               
any of  their rights, benefits, or  obligations?  And, if  HJR 32                                                               
is passed,  what will married couples  gain?  Will they  gain any                                                               
additional rights,  benefits, or obligations?   Again, if married                                                               
couples  are not  going  to  gain or  lose  anything through  the                                                               
passage  of HJR  32, what  is  its purpose?   Is  HJR 32  instead                                                               
simply directed against a small minority, a key group of people?                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. PARKER said  it seems as though HJR 32  is designed to remove                                                               
rights from  a small group  of folks.   She opined that  both the                                                               
U.S.  Constitution  and  the  Alaska  State  Constitution  should                                                               
expand people's  rights and obligations, not  reduce them, adding                                                               
that she  views HJR  32 as  an attempt to  reduce the  rights and                                                               
obligations, mostly,  of those in  the gay community.   She asked                                                               
that [the  committee] tread cautiously when  [attempting to make]                                                               
any amendments  to the Alaska  State Constitution,  again opining                                                               
that everyone's  rights and obligations  should be  expanded, not                                                               
reduced.  She  also asked [the committee] to  consider this issue                                                               
carefully, judge wisely on it, and vote against [HJR 32].                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:49:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHERYL HUMME  said she  is very  opposed to HJR  32.   Instead of                                                               
working towards fairness, equal  treatment, and equal rights, she                                                               
observed,  HJR  32  stresses  discrimination,  discrimination  of                                                               
people that the  supporters of HJR 32 consider to  be outside the                                                               
norm -  people who think  differently than  they do.   Instead of                                                               
working towards expanding  healthcare to all Alaskans,  HJR 32 is                                                               
trying  to narrow  and restrict  healthcare.   Alaska has  a rich                                                               
history  of   [honoring]  privacy  and  individual   rights,  she                                                               
remarked, and went on to say:                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     I  want to  share how  my brother  and sister  would be                                                                    
     treated under this proposal.   My sister is married and                                                                    
     my brother has a domestic  partner, Betsy.  It astounds                                                                    
     me  which partnership  this proposal  would honor.   My                                                                    
     sister's  husband  has cheated  on  my  sister, he  has                                                                    
     taken  advantage of  her financially,  and disrespected                                                                    
     her over  and over  again, but  they're married,  so it                                                                    
     seems we should  give these two better  rights than the                                                                    
     supporters  [of  HJR  32] would  give  my  brother  and                                                                    
     Betsy.   They  have been  together for  over 10  years,                                                                    
     they  are both  professionals,  they  own three  houses                                                                    
     together  - imagine  the tax  dollars, there;  yet they                                                                    
     are  not married,  so the  supporters of  ... [HJR  32]                                                                    
     would not want them to have the same rights.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     I  realize   neither  of  my  examples   show  same-sex                                                                    
     couples,  but  they  do [speak  to]  ...  the  supposed                                                                    
     values surrounding  marriage.  I am  a strong supporter                                                                    
     of gay  rights and  could easily  speak about  how this                                                                    
     proposal is wrong along those  lines alone, but so many                                                                    
     others are  doing that  wonderfully.   I would  like to                                                                    
     show how this  proposal is harmful to  all Alaskans and                                                                    
     [how it]  is important for us  not to get lost  in what                                                                    
     this [proposed]  amendment is actually saying.   When I                                                                    
     read  this [proposed]  amendment, I  see that  it talks                                                                    
     about limiting benefits outside  of marriage, plain and                                                                    
     simple.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The supporters of  [HJR 32] ... would like  us to think                                                                    
     only about  same-sex unions because  they hope  that it                                                                    
     will stir up indignation  surrounding this issue.  They                                                                    
     will bring in  large amounts of money  from outside the                                                                    
     state, as well, to stir up  that anger and make it seem                                                                    
     like  an "us  against them"  issue.   This proposal  is                                                                    
     against  any individual  who does  not  conform to  the                                                                    
     mandate of the  supporters of this proposal.   Over and                                                                    
     over again I  hear it said that the  people who support                                                                    
     this  proposal  are  good people  but  that  it's  just                                                                    
     simply a moral issue for them.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. HUMME concluded:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     I have  really come to loath  the use of ...  the word,                                                                    
     "morals"  because  it  usually   is  a  code  word  for                                                                    
     judgment.  I simply cannot  understand how you can talk                                                                    
     about morals  and still be willing  to destroy families                                                                    
     that are  simply different from  your own.  I  urge you                                                                    
     to  vote down  this proposal  and to  not let  this ...                                                                    
     divisive proposal go any further.  Thank you.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:52:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SHIRLEY RIVAS said:                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     I hold  the belief that  when we, with  no provocation,                                                                    
     deliberately  hurt our  fellow  human  beings, we  also                                                                    
     hurt  ourselves just  as much  or more.   [House  Joint                                                                    
     Resolution 32] is  designed to be hurtful  to a certain                                                                    
     segment of  our minority  population.  First,  the very                                                                    
     act of singling them  out is cruel, discriminatory, and                                                                    
     unusual treatment.  And then,  by removing their rights                                                                    
     and   benefits,   is   further  cruel   and   punishing                                                                    
     treatment.   I  thought  punishment  was designed  [to]                                                                    
     punish convicted  criminals:  people who  steal, commit                                                                    
     murder, fraud - i.e., real crimes.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     This proposed amendment is punishing  a great number of                                                                    
     people  who have  neither been  convicted  of, nor  who                                                                    
     have committed, a  crime.  The law says that  we have a                                                                    
     right  to face  our accusers  ...  in a  court of  law,                                                                    
     therefore this [proposed]  amendment would further deny                                                                    
     the GLBT  community another  right.   It says  to them,                                                                    
     "You are being  punished because of how  you were born,                                                                    
     not  because  of any  crime  you  have committed."    I                                                                    
     repeat:  Isn't punishment  reserved for the accused and                                                                    
     convicted?                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     I think  the ... [Declaration of  Independence] states,                                                                    
     "We hold these truths to  be self-evident, that all men                                                                    
     are  created  equal, that  they  are  endowed by  their                                                                    
     Creator  with certain  unalienable  Rights, that  among                                                                    
     these are Life, Liberty  and the pursuit of Happiness".                                                                    
     Our  pledge of  allegiance  states,  "With liberty  and                                                                    
     justice  for all."   Who  are  "all?"   "All" needs  no                                                                    
     explanation  - it  means, "all  of us."   [House  Joint                                                                    
     Resolution  32]  is  in   direct  opposition  to  these                                                                    
     principles.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. RIVAS continued:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Another quote:   "There is  no error greater  than that                                                                    
     species  of  self-deception   which  leads  intelligent                                                                    
     beings  to  crave  the exercise  of  power  over  other                                                                    
     beings for  the purpose  of depriving these  persons of                                                                    
     their  natural liberties.   The  golden  rule of  human                                                                    
     fairness cries out against  all such fraud, unfairness,                                                                    
     selfishness,  and  unrighteousness.     Only  true  and                                                                    
     genuine liberty  is compatible with  the reign  of love                                                                    
     and  the ministry  of  mercy."   This  is  from a  book                                                                    
     published in 1955.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     I am here today initially because  I am the mother of a                                                                    
     gay son.   I  am here  to advocate  for his  rights and                                                                    
     those of his  partner.  Because I am a  mother of a gay                                                                    
     son,  I have  become  active in  the  gay community,  I                                                                    
     maintain   dear   friendships   throughout   the   GLBT                                                                    
     community, and know firsthand  how damaging and hurtful                                                                    
     HJR 32 is.  This  [resolution] characterizes my son and                                                                    
     my friends  as people who have  earned punishment under                                                                    
     our  [Alaska State  Constitution].   How  can this  be?                                                                    
     They are simply  people - they come  from every segment                                                                    
     of our community.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     I  personally   know  GLBT  people  who   are  doctors,                                                                    
     lawyers,   ministers,    police   officers,   students,                                                                    
     artists, nurses,  teachers, waiters,  cooks, musicians,                                                                    
     firefighters,  carpenters, computer  nerds, architects,                                                                    
     Rolfers,   non-profit  administrators,   painters,  and                                                                    
     more;  these   people  work  hard,  pay   taxes,  raise                                                                    
     children, and  struggle with  life's mysteries.   Those                                                                    
     people are  us.  As  a society, remember, when  we hurt                                                                    
     one another,  we ultimately hurt ourselves  and society                                                                    
     as a whole.  This is  legislation at its worst.  Please                                                                    
     do not  vote to put it  on the ballot.   Thank you very                                                                    
     much.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:58:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EDITH  BAILEY, after  characterizing  herself  as a  heterosexual                                                               
retired commissioned officer,  said she is a grandmother  of 5, a                                                               
mother  of 4,  and  a foster  mother  of  45 -  5  of which  have                                                               
identified themselves as gay or lesbian.  She went on to say:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     I  was  there  with   them  when  they  struggled  with                                                                    
     accepting their  [sexual] orientation.  It  was through                                                                    
     raising  these teens  that I  came to  fully understand                                                                    
     that sexual orientation  is not a choice.   Since it is                                                                    
     not a choice, it is  just not right to consider denying                                                                    
     rights based on  it.  As a female, I  value my right to                                                                    
     vote;  it was  only 1920  that we  gained the  right to                                                                    
     vote  - that  was  only  20 years  before  I was  born.                                                                    
     Probably  few  Americans  now would  even  think  about                                                                    
     denying  women  the right  to  vote.   It  just  sounds                                                                    
     ridiculous to consider it.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     I was a  young adult during the  civil rights movement.                                                                    
     We look back  at those days and wonder why  did we deny                                                                    
     individuals rights  based on  the color of  their skin.                                                                    
     It was only  1964 that blacks were assured  the vote in                                                                    
     the entire United  States.  And it  seems so ridiculous                                                                    
     when we  look back -  what were we  so afraid of?   Now                                                                    
     we're standing  at a pivotal  point of rights  for gays                                                                    
     and  lesbians.   Let  us  not  make those  same  stupid                                                                    
     mistakes again.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Forget about quoting  the bible - I  remember the bible                                                                    
     verses were  quoted to support  denying rights  to both                                                                    
     women and  to blacks; we  don't consider them  to apply                                                                    
     now.  And if the rights  of ... blacks to vote had been                                                                    
     put  to  the  people  to  vote,  they  would  still  be                                                                    
     [second-class] ... citizens with  no voting rights.  It                                                                    
     seems such  a contradiction of the  republican ideology                                                                    
     of less government to find  there's now a consideration                                                                    
     of  government  moving  into the  bedroom  and  denying                                                                    
     rights based on sexual orientation.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska prizes its right to  privacy as expressed in its                                                                    
     constitution - government must stay  out of the private                                                                    
     lives of  people.   My hope  is that  I will  live long                                                                    
     enough to  see everyone  treated equally.   Please help                                                                    
     realize   this  dream   by  voting   no  on   this  ...                                                                    
     [resolution].                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:00:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL  "WES"  MACLEOD-BALL,  Executive Director,  Alaska  Civil                                                               
Liberties  Union  (AkCLU), thanked  the  committee  for both  the                                                               
opportunity  to speak  and for  its  sincere hearing  of all  the                                                               
testimony  coming forth  on  the issues  raised by  HJR  32.   He                                                               
noted,  however that  he's heard  reports that  some people  have                                                               
been unable  to testify because of  limited call-in availability;                                                               
notwithstanding  this, the  numbers of  those who  have testified                                                               
have  been overwhelmingly  in opposition  to  HJR 32,  and so  he                                                               
hopes that the committee will take that into account.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACLEOD-BALL  offered a  brief history:   1998,  the marriage                                                               
amendment passed;  1999, the AkCLU  filed a  lawsuit representing                                                               
the AkCLU  and 18 individuals;  and this resulted in  the [Alaska                                                               
Supreme] Court decision  arrived at last October.   This decision                                                               
essentially  said that  the existing  benefits system  for public                                                               
employees  is discriminatory.   The  rationale was  fairly simple                                                               
and  fairly  straightforward:   the  State,  under  the  marriage                                                               
amendment, bars  some people  from marrying,  and the  state also                                                               
offers benefits,  through its public employment  benefit package,                                                               
only to married people.   Therefore, the discrimination occurs by                                                               
barring benefits to those who are barred from marrying.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACLEOD-BALL observed  that contrary to some  of the previous                                                               
testimony,  the Alaska  Supreme Court's  justification was  under                                                               
the equal protection  clause.  The court  said, essentially, that                                                               
it  didn't  classify  same-sex  couples as  any  group  that  was                                                               
entitled to special privilege; rather,  it said that there was no                                                               
rational  justification  for  the discrimination  of  the  public                                                               
employment benefit package.   There's been some  comment that the                                                               
court's decision represents a runaway  court; however, he pointed                                                               
out, the decision was unanimous -  5-0 in favor of the decision -                                                               
and was written by one of the more conservative justices.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MACLEOD-BALL  pointed  out  that even  Senator  Seekins  has                                                               
acknowledged  that were  he to  have  sat on  the Alaska  Supreme                                                               
Court, he probably  would have made the same  decision because of                                                               
the language contained in the  [Alaska State] Constitution, which                                                               
is what the  court was interpreting.  "I don't  think this can be                                                               
characterized as [a] decision of  the court that is irrational or                                                               
activist in any  sense of the word,"  Mr. Macleod-Ball concluded,                                                               
adding that HJR  32 would counter that  court interpretation and,                                                               
again according  to Senator Seekins,  its intent is to  trump the                                                               
equal protection clause of the [Alaska State] Constitution.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACLEOD-BALL said  that the AkCLU believes  that trumping the                                                               
equal protection  clause is exactly the  wrong way to go;  HJR 32                                                               
would write discrimination into  the [Alaska State] Constitution.                                                               
Instead,  he proffered,  the state  should  be strengthening  the                                                               
Alaska State  Constitution's equal protection clause  in order to                                                               
reassure  minority communities,  of today  and of  tomorrow, that                                                               
society  recognizes  and values  the  diversity  achieved by  the                                                               
amalgam of minorities  and that the government  will not tolerate                                                               
discrimination  even  if the  majority  retains  some element  of                                                               
private bias  against a particular  group.  The  government needs                                                               
to  stand up,  where private  individuals will  not stand  up, in                                                               
protection of minorities.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACLEOD-BALL, noting  that one of the points  made in support                                                               
of  HJR  32 is  that  [the  legislature]  should let  the  people                                                               
decide,  pointed  out that  "letting  the  people decide"  really                                                               
depends on  what question is  posed to  the people.   Clearly, in                                                               
advancing the  measure, the  proponents of  HJR 32  would control                                                               
the very  nature of the  question that's being asked.   Everybody                                                               
knows,  he remarked,  that pollsters  and surveyors  can get  the                                                               
response that they want by asking  the question in the right way.                                                               
It's been  stated by many people  that the majority ought  not to                                                               
be  able  to  determine  the  rights that  are  extended  to  the                                                               
minority;  furthermore,  Vic Fisher  -  a  member of  the  Alaska                                                               
Constitutional Convention  and one of  the authors of  the Alaska                                                               
State Constitution  - has stated  in an article in  the Anchorage                                                             
Daily  News  the  reasons  for   preserving  the  rights  of  the                                                             
individual even against the weight of public opinion.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACLEOD-BALL stated that the  AkCLU opposes HJR 32 on several                                                               
levels, among  them that  it is poorly  phrased and  ambiguous in                                                               
the extreme.  He went on to say:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     I think we know ... what the intent of the measure is,                                                                     
        as measured by public statements - the intent is                                                                        
     discriminatory and  it is to  ban benefits  to same-sex                                                                    
     couples.   But  the effect,  despite the  statements of                                                                    
     proponents, I think is less  clear; this measure is, in                                                                    
     fact, very ambiguous.  While  part of a lawyer's job is                                                                    
     to argue  an issue from  both sides, this  measure will                                                                    
     permit, and encourage,  many different interpretations.                                                                    
     We  cannot tell,  at this  point, for  sure, what  this                                                                    
     [proposed constitutional] amendment would do.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     The proponents  say that there  is some  confusion over                                                                    
     the meaning  of the  original marriage  amendment, that                                                                    
     the [Alaska Supreme] Court  has misconstrued the intent                                                                    
     of the 1998  amendment.  This measure will  put that to                                                                    
     shame in  the confusion that  it will create;  we'll be                                                                    
     right back in  this situation over, and  over, and over                                                                    
     again as we  hash out the real meaning  of this measure                                                                    
     in the years ahead if this measure is adopted.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     We  believe that  this measure  is  bad public  policy.                                                                    
     Immediately  upon  introduction   of  this  measure,  a                                                                    
     broad-based coalition  has coalesced around  this issue                                                                    
     in   opposition  to   the   measure   -  Alaska   won't                                                                    
     discriminate.   It's an  organization that  consists of                                                                    
     people  from all  corners of  Alaska and  all walks  of                                                                    
     life.    It  consists   of  clergymen,  small  business                                                                    
     owners,   corporate   and  government   employees   and                                                                    
     employers,  doctors  and healthcare  workers,  lawyers,                                                                    
     social   workers,  university   professors,  university                                                                    
     administrators  and   other  educators,   families  and                                                                    
     friends  of  gays  and lesbians,  and  of  course  many                                                                    
     activists.   This [resolution] ...  is bad  for Alaska,                                                                    
     and the representation of  our broad-based coalition of                                                                    
     all these groups, I think, testifies to that.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACLEOD-BALL added:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     All across  America, and even  in Alaska, the  trend is                                                                    
     in exactly the opposite  direction of what this measure                                                                    
     would  do:     employers  are  extending   benefits  to                                                                    
     domestic  partners  more often  now  than  ever.   [For                                                                    
     example],  50 percent  of the  "Fortune 500"  companies                                                                    
     offer  domestic   partner  benefits;   several  hundred                                                                    
     public employers,  from all parts of  America, not just                                                                    
     the  "blue" states,  offer  domestic partner  benefits;                                                                    
     many   Alaskan   employers   offer   domestic   partner                                                                    
     benefits, including  such major  employers as  "BP" and                                                                    
     "Chevron," and Wells Fargo, and  "Key Bank," and Alaska                                                                    
     Airlines  and all  the other  major  airlines that  fly                                                                    
     into  Alaska,   and  ...  [Providence   Alaska  Medical                                                                    
     Center], and  the City and  Borough of Juneau,  and the                                                                    
     university  system;  there  are  many  major  religious                                                                    
     denominations  that  offer domestic  partner  benefits;                                                                    
     and  the  trend  even  among   insurers  is  to  extend                                                                    
     domestic partner  benefits, at  least as an  option, to                                                                    
     even  small employers  - and  I would  site the  recent                                                                    
     addition of BlueCross BlueShield  of Montana, I believe                                                                    
     it was, [as a company  that has] recently added this as                                                                    
     an option to its small-group employer benefit package.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     We're seeing things like that  happening all across the                                                                    
     country  - the  list goes  on  and on.   Testimony  was                                                                    
     presented  in the  Senate Finance  Committee that  this                                                                    
     benefit  could be  extended at  essentially no  cost to                                                                    
     Alaska, and,  in fact, even  perhaps at savings  to the                                                                    
     State of  Alaska ...; you  can save money  on Medicaid,                                                                    
     you can  expand the  pool of  workers and  increase the                                                                    
     State's competitive posture  with respect to healthcare                                                                    
     coverage.   The  national system  is staggering;  we've                                                                    
     lost 5  million people in  coverage over the  last five                                                                    
     years.  Coverages are  declining, costs are increasing,                                                                    
     nothing  is on  the  horizon to  rectify this  national                                                                    
     crisis, and states are limited in what they can do.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACLEOD-BALL concluded:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     But one thing  is certain:  each state  should be doing                                                                    
     whatever it can do to  expand healthcare coverage.  And                                                                    
     when it  can be  done at  no cost  or perhaps  a public                                                                    
     savings, it's a  "no brainer."  This  measure's bad for                                                                    
     same-sex  couples,  it's  bad for  unmarried  Alaskans,                                                                    
     it's bad  for business, it's bad  for public employees,                                                                    
     it's  bad  for public  employers,  it's  bad [for]  the                                                                    
     State, it  restricts access to healthcare,  it promotes                                                                    
     discrimination and bias, it  damages our [Alaska State]                                                                    
     Constitution,  it limits  the equal  protection clause;                                                                    
     this  measure just  is not  right, and  we urge  you to                                                                    
     stop this measure now.  Thank you ....                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. MACLEOD-BALL, in response to a  question, said he is not sure                                                               
that any  other state  has adopted  a measure  just like  what is                                                               
being  proposed via  HJR 32,  though there  are a  relatively few                                                               
states that  have adopted  [or are  considering adopting]  a "one                                                               
man one woman" definition of  marriage and included language that                                                               
goes beyond just that definition.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON closed public testimony on HJR 32.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. BUCK provided  members with a copy of  the aforementioned UAF                                                               
Faculty Senate resolution.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[HJR 32 was held over.]                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects