Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

02/16/2006 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

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             SJR 20-CONST. AM: BENEFITS & MARRIAGE                                                                          
9:02:47 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS announced SJR  20 to be up for consideration.                                                               
SJR  20  proposes  to  amend the  Alaska  State  Constitution  in                                                               
relation to marriage. He cited AS 25.05.013:                                                                                    
Sec. 25.05.013.  Same-sex marriages.                                                                                            
     (a) A marriage entered into by persons of the same sex,                                                                    
either under common  law or under statute, that  is recognized by                                                               
another state or foreign jurisdiction  is void in this state, and                                                               
contractual rights  granted by virtue of  the marriage, including                                                               
its termination, are unenforceable in this state.                                                                               
     (b) A same-sex relationship may not be recognized by the                                                                   
state as being entitled to the benefits of marriage.                                                                            
CHAIR  SEEKINS said  that  statute has  been  challenged and  the                                                               
Alaska   Supreme  Court   ruled   that  people   in  a   domestic                                                               
relationship did not have the  ability to marry by constitutional                                                               
prohibition and therefore denial  of spousal benefits by same-sex                                                               
couples is a violation of the equal protection clause.                                                                          
9:04:19 AM                                                                                                                    
The  people   of  the  State   of  Alaska  voted  to   amend  the                                                               
constitution to  define marriage  to be a  union between  one man                                                               
and one  woman. SJR 20  was designed to  put the question  to the                                                               
voters  of  whether  the  intent  of AS  25.05.013  was  to  also                                                               
restrict spousal benefits to same-sex domestic partners.                                                                        
CHAIR SEEKINS  said the Senate  Judiciary Standing  Committee was                                                               
asked to  introduce SJR  20 and  submit it to  the people  of the                                                               
State of  Alaska so  that they  could vote  on the  issue, rather                                                               
than leave the interpretation to the courts.                                                                                    
9:06:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS asked for committee  member comment prior to public                                                               
9:06:48 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GRETCHEN GUESS  clarified for the record that  it was not                                                               
a committee  decision to introduce  SJR 20 but a  majority member                                                               
decision. She said:                                                                                                             
     I was not  asked about this resolution, nor  did I give                                                                    
     my sanction.  We all know  that here and  how committee                                                                    
     bills work. The public doesn't.  And I would like to be                                                                    
     clear for myself that I  wasn't asked, nor do I approve                                                                    
     of putting this  in as a committee bill. I  did want to                                                                    
     ask  if  the  attorney  that  has  been  hired  by  the                                                                    
     Legislature to work on this  issue was going to testify                                                                    
     or if  discussing the  intent of  the majority  in this                                                                    
     committee  in  putting  this  on   the  bill  was  your                                                                    
     statement.  I  don't have  a  sponsor  statement in  my                                                                    
     packet or  anything else to  discuss the intent  of the                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS said:                                                                                                             
     That was the intent as I laid it out and Mr. Clarkson                                                                      
     who had been retained is ill. He would have been here                                                                      
     but can barely speak.                                                                                                      
9:08:11 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR CHARLIE HUGGINS spoke in support of the resolution.                                                                     
CHAIR SEEKINS  stated that  Senator Guess  was correct  in saying                                                               
SJR  20 was  a  request from  the majority  members  and that  he                                                               
agreed to introduce it as a  committee bill. He called for public                                                               
9:10:15 AM                                                                                                                    
MILDRED BOESSER  testified in opposition  to the  resolution. She                                                               
suggested the committee should see the  irony of SJR 20 since the                                                               
Constitution of  the State of  Alaska already bans  gay marriage.                                                               
She described  her daughter's  26-year relationship  with another                                                               
woman.  They are  both responsible  citizens who  own their  home                                                               
free and  clear, pay all taxes  due, vote at every  election, and                                                               
are the kinds of persons that  any family would be proud of. They                                                               
have lived  all those years without  consequential benefits given                                                               
to married couples. The Catch 22  is that the Constitution of the                                                               
State of Alaska  does not allow them to be  married. The proposed                                                               
resolution suggests  that benefits can  only be given  to married                                                               
couples, yet marriage is denied, she stated.                                                                                    
9:12:34 AM                                                                                                                    
MARK  BOESSER, retired  priest and  Archdeacon  of the  Southeast                                                               
Alaska  Episcopal Church,  asked  the  Senate Judiciary  Standing                                                               
Committee to reject SJR 20. He  assured the committee that he and                                                               
his wife were  aware of the values of a  healthy marriage and the                                                               
benefits  that accompany  it. He  said SJR  20, if  passed, would                                                               
write  discrimination into  the  Alaska  State Constitution.  The                                                               
Alaska  Supreme Court  ruled that  denying gay  couples the  same                                                               
public employees  benefits as married couples  violates the equal                                                               
protection clause. He said the  idea of using the Constitution of                                                               
the  State  of Alaska  to  intentionally  remove the  rights  and                                                               
benefits of  one segment of  the population are  unbelievable. It                                                               
sounds like  codifying discrimination against a  particular group                                                               
of people.                                                                                                                      
MR.  BOESSER  contended  that   allowing  benefits  for  domestic                                                               
partners  would   not  harm  anyone's  marriage.   To  couch  the                                                               
resolution  to make  it sound  as  if it  is about  the issue  of                                                               
marriage is  to mislead the  public on  the basic issue  of equal                                                               
rights for all. In 1976  the National Convention of the Episcopal                                                               
Church  expressed  its  conviction that  homosexual  persons  are                                                               
entitled to equal protection of  the laws with all other citizens                                                               
and called upon society to  see that such protection is provided.                                                               
SJR 20  proposes to do  the opposite.  He urged the  committee to                                                               
reject the resolution.                                                                                                          
9:15:24 AM                                                                                                                    
SONNE KYLE-OLSON,  Juneau Douglas High School  (JDHS) student and                                                               
member  of the  Gay/Straight Alliance  group (GSA),  testified in                                                               
opposition to  SJR 20  and suggested the  resolution would  put a                                                               
stamp  of approval  on discrimination.  She questioned  a society                                                               
that supports bigotry and violence.                                                                                             
9:18:40 AM                                                                                                                    
JOELLE  BALLAM-SCHWAN, JDHS  student and  vice president  of GSA,                                                               
said she was  taught that discrimination is always  wrong and she                                                               
believes the resolution to be discriminatory.                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS  advised Ms.  Ballam-Schwan  that  SJR 20  is  not                                                               
legislation but  that it was  a proposal  to be submitted  to the                                                               
people for their vote.                                                                                                          
9:20:13 AM                                                                                                                    
MALLORY  STORY, JDHS  student  and member  of  GSA, testified  in                                                               
opposition to the resolution. She  said the resolution was biased                                                               
toward one type of family and opens doors for discrimination.                                                                   
9:21:17 AM                                                                                                                    
PAULA  TERREL  testified in  opposition  to  the resolution.  She                                                               
admitted that  one reason she  got married  was so that  her male                                                               
domestic  partner could  receive medical  benefits. She  lamented                                                               
the fact that  same-sex partners are not allowed to  share in the                                                               
same benefits. She said it was tremendously discriminatory.                                                                     
9:24:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MARSHA  BUCK, representing  Parents and  Friends of  Lesbians and                                                               
Gays  (PFLAG)  Juneau  chapter, testified  against  SJR  20.  She                                                               
questioned the true  reason behind the resolution  and stated SJR                                                               
20 was  not about marriage. If  it really were about  marriage it                                                               
would  address the  root causes  to common  problems in  domestic                                                               
marriages. She  suggested the resolution was  designed to promote                                                               
discrimination.  She said  many  same-sex couples  own their  own                                                               
homes, have 401Ks,  professional careers, go to  church, and also                                                               
have children.  She questioned whether committee  members thought                                                               
these were not important things to support.                                                                                     
As a  long-time voter in  Alaska, she  said she votes  for people                                                               
who  keep all  of  their  represented citizens  in  mind and  for                                                               
people who  are honest. She  asked whether the supporters  of the                                                               
resolution have an  entire different set of values  than the ones                                                               
she outlined  earlier. She  urged the  committee to  vote against                                                               
the resolution.                                                                                                                 
9:27:37 AM                                                                                                                    
SCOTT MILLER asked  the committee to be mindful of  the vision of                                                               
George Wallace standing  in the schoolhouse door  arguing that it                                                               
was  fine  for Alabama  to  be  racist  because that's  what  the                                                               
residents wanted. He insisted SJR 20  would be bad for Alaska and                                                               
that it  would detract desired  professionals from moving  to the                                                               
state.   SJR  20   essentially  places   a  priority   on  sexual                                                               
orientation  over education  and  ability, and  creates a  strong                                                               
economic  incentive  for  thousands  of young  Alaskans  to  seek                                                               
employment elsewhere.                                                                                                           
9:30:18 AM                                                                                                                    
MAUREEN LONGWORTH, M.D.,  testified in opposition to  SJR 20. She                                                               
relayed a  story about  her parents  losing their  home due  to a                                                               
serious illness  and a lack  of medical insurance. She  cited the                                                               
current astronomical cost of medical  attention and insisted that                                                               
medical benefits are something every Alaskan should have.                                                                       
9:35:34 AM                                                                                                                    
DEBBIE  JOSLYN,  President,  Eagle  Forum  Alaska,  testified  in                                                               
support  of SJR  20.  She  said since  the  beginning of  history                                                               
marriage has been  regarded as a special  and unique relationship                                                               
between  a man  and  a  woman. She  took  issue  with the  Alaska                                                               
Supreme Court "attempting  to legislate from the  bench" and said                                                               
they undermined  the will of the  people. Alaskans overwhelmingly                                                               
voted  in the  marriage  amendment  in 1998  and  SJR 20  further                                                               
defines what the people want, she said.                                                                                         
9:37:22 AM                                                                                                                    
CARRIE  EVANS,  Director,  Human Rights  Campaign,  testified  in                                                               
opposition to SJR 20. She  said the resolution is a mean-spirited                                                               
and hurtful measure.  It would attempt to deny  hundreds of hard-                                                               
working Alaskans  basic employment  benefits. She  speculated the                                                               
intent of the resolution was  to encourage discrimination against                                                               
gays and lesbians.                                                                                                              
9:39:24 AM                                                                                                                    
JOAN HAMILTON testified in opposition to  SJR 20. She spoke as an                                                               
Alaskan  Native and  reminded committee  members of  a time  when                                                               
Alaskan Natives were  not allowed in some  schools and businesses                                                               
because they  didn't have the  right physical  features. Alaskans                                                               
who are  in same-sex relationships make  up a key part  of Alaska                                                               
Native traditional culture and modern culture.                                                                                  
Many  of   the  gay  and   lesbian  people  of  Alaska   work  in                                                               
professional fields as  attorneys, medical professional, judicial                                                               
officers and support  staff. These people have  the same concerns                                                               
of any Alaska  family. Limiting benefits for  same-sex couples is                                                               
like telling  them they are  not worth  as much as  other people.                                                               
She said Alaska is digressing to  the days when it was acceptable                                                               
to discriminate against African Americans and Native Alaskans.                                                                  
9:42:53 AM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER  GIBBONS   testified  in  opposition  to   SJR  20.  She                                                               
recognized  the  value  in having  family  medical  benefits  and                                                               
questioned  the  fairness of  the  resolution.  She said  it  was                                                               
discriminatory  to  dis-allow  employment  benefits  to  gay  and                                                               
lesbian state  workers. She urged  the committee to  vote against                                                               
the resolution.                                                                                                                 
Chair Seekins announced a brief recess at 9:45:28 AM.                                                                         
9:54:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MAURY JAMESON testified in opposition  to SJR 20. She referred to                                                               
AS 25.05.013  and stated she has  not seen a rise  in the quality                                                               
of marriage as a result  of the 1998 amendment. Heterosexuals are                                                               
still getting divorced  at a breathtaking rate  and spousal abuse                                                               
is still rampant. SJR 20 is about  equal pay for equal work. As a                                                               
self-employed small business  owner, she and her  own partner (as                                                               
Representative  Bob Lynn  said) "get  their own  healthcare." She                                                               
wondered who  would stand up  for her  rights if not  her elected                                                               
9:57:16 AM                                                                                                                    
ROZZ LEIGHT  testified in  opposition to SJR  20, which  she said                                                               
would  take  away benefits  that  she  and her  nephew  currently                                                               
receive  through  her partner,  whose  work  supports the  Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature.  Domestic   partnership  benefits  saved  her                                                               
nephew, she  said, who came to  live with them when  he was eight                                                               
years old and  destined for jail. He is now  twenty years old and                                                               
attending trade  school. They  would not have  been able  to help                                                               
him  without   employment  benefits.  Employment   benefits  help                                                               
families  raise  their  children  so  that  they  can  contribute                                                               
positively  to  society.  She  said SJR  20  is  already  causing                                                               
divisiveness among many Alaskans at  work and questioned the true                                                               
reason behind the resolution.                                                                                                   
10:01:26 AM                                                                                                                   
ARTHUR CURTIS,  retired minister, testified in  opposition to SJR                                                               
20.  He said  the resolution  would install  prejudices into  the                                                               
Alaska  State  Constitution  and   would  make  the  Constitution                                                               
inconsistent. He  expressed agreement  with much of  the previous                                                               
testimony.  Most  Alaskans  are  aware that  a  lack  of  medical                                                               
insurance could  potentially bankrupt a  family. He said  SJR 20,                                                               
being  discriminatory, would  eat  at  the soul  as  well as  the                                                               
pocketbook,  and  damage the  morale  of  public employees,  both                                                               
homosexual  and heterosexual.  For  the moral  and physical  well                                                               
being of  the State  of Alaska,  he urged  the committee  to vote                                                               
against the resolution.                                                                                                         
10:04:30 AM                                                                                                                   
JEANNE  LAUREUCELLE  testified  in  opposition  to  SJR  20.  She                                                               
testified  as a  mother and  a member  of a  church in  Fairbanks                                                               
where they  just adopted a  resolution welcoming and  valuing all                                                               
people  regardless  of  sexual orientation.  She  suggested  that                                                               
equal  protection  under  the  law   should  protect  the  people                                                               
equally.  She speculated  the resolution  would prohibit  private                                                               
employers  from offering  domestic partnership  benefits to  both                                                               
their homosexual  and heterosexual employees. She  also expressed                                                               
concern  that the  University of  Alaska  benefit program,  which                                                               
currently   offers  domestic   partnership  benefits,   would  be                                                               
negatively affected.                                                                                                            
10:06:26 AM                                                                                                                   
MARINA  DAY testified  in opposition  to SJR  20, which  she said                                                               
attacks  the   equal  protection  clause  of   the  Alaska  State                                                               
Constitution  only to  discriminate against  a few.  She asserted                                                               
the recent Alaska  Supreme Court ruling that prompted  SJR 20 has                                                               
nothing to  do with the  marriage between  one man and  one woman                                                               
but everything  to do with  equal pay  for equal work.  She urged                                                               
the committee to reject SJR 20.                                                                                                 
10:07:27 AM                                                                                                                   
TIM  STALLARD testified  in opposition  to  SJR 20.  He said  the                                                               
sponsors   of    the   resolution   are    contemplating   adding                                                               
discrimination to  the Alaska  State Constitution.  He questioned                                                               
whether SJR 20  would prohibit him from legally  owning the house                                                               
that he  and his partner of  12 years are currently  building. He                                                               
asserted that nothing  is so fundamental to  a person's existence                                                               
than  their families  and  loved ones.  He  compared the  current                                                               
issue in Alaska to the civil  rights movement of the 1960s in the                                                               
southern United States and compared SJR 20 to Nazi Germany.                                                                     
MR.  STALLARD  speculated  the   proponents  of  the  legislation                                                               
operated out  of hatred for  homosexuals and that  they supported                                                               
discrimination  of   the  children  of  gays   and  lesbians.  He                                                               
questioned the Christianity of that discrimination.                                                                             
MR. STALLARD ADDED:                                                                                                             
     As a business owner, the  ability to form contracts and                                                                    
     partnerships  is fundamental  to operating  a business.                                                                    
     Contract law  is one of  the oldest parts of  our legal                                                                    
     system dating back hundreds of  years to English Common                                                                    
     Law. The ability  to form contracts with  those we care                                                                    
     about  is similarly  fundamental  to  a person's  legal                                                                    
He  speculated that  SJR  20 would  prevent  people from  forming                                                               
contacts and urged the committee to vote against the resolution.                                                                
10:10:52 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGGINS aired  his resentment  of the  comment comparing                                                               
the  resolution   to  Nazi  Germany.  The   magnitude  of  people                                                               
sacrificed  there does  not present  a parallel  to the  issue at                                                               
hand, he said.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR SEEKINS commented  SJR 20 would not  threaten joint tenancy                                                               
contracts. He promised to research the  issue and get back to the                                                               
10:12:24 AM                                                                                                                   
CONNIE FAIPEAS testified  in opposition to SJR  20. She suggested                                                               
that nobody  should have  the right to  vote on  another person's                                                               
marriage. She  accused the sponsors  of acting like bullies  on a                                                               
playground.  She reminded  the sponsors  that they  represent all                                                               
Alaskans and  that their jobs are  to make Alaska a  better place                                                               
for all  of the people. She  suggested that SJR 20  serves to pit                                                               
people against people and also creates classes of citizens.                                                                     
MS. FAIPEAS commented  on the irony of hearing  the resolution on                                                               
the  same day  that the  State of  Alaska was  honoring Elizabeth                                                               
Peratrovich  and  stated  it   was  particularly  offensive.  She                                                               
commented on the comparison to  Nazi Germany and said that Hitler                                                               
did not start  out with concentration camps. He  started out with                                                               
a slow withdrawal of rights for certain citizens.                                                                               
10:14:46 AM                                                                                                                   
MICHAEL  MACLEOD-BALL,   Executive  Director,  ACLU   of  Alaska,                                                               
testified  in   opposition  to   SJR  20   and  said   it  writes                                                               
discrimination into the  Constitution of the State  of Alaska for                                                               
the first time  and is a precedent that should  be avoided at all                                                               
costs. He  disputed the suggestion  that SJR 20 has  been drafted                                                               
in response to a majority who  want to clarify the true intent of                                                               
AS 25.05.013. An editorial in  the Alaska Daily News, the largest                                                               
newspaper in  the state, said  that they understood  the marriage                                                               
amendment  as   not  eliminating  the  possibility   of  domestic                                                               
partnership benefits. Case files from  the Dodd versus Ulmer case                                                               
included  the   Legislature's  own   brief  which   stated,  "The                                                               
amendment  is intended  only  to address  the  public status  and                                                               
recognition of  marriage and  is not  intended to  affect private                                                               
and or religiously recognized same-sex unions."                                                                                 
MR. MACLEOD-BALL  quoted Representative Joe Green  during a House                                                               
floor session:                                                                                                                  
     I don't  think it should  be considered as  a marriage,                                                                    
     perhaps a union, something else.  I'm not even standing                                                                    
     here  to say  they shouldn't  be entitled  to the  same                                                                    
     rights as marriage.                                                                                                        
MR. MACLEOD-BALL disputed earlier  comments that the Marriage Act                                                               
has  been  misconstrued  and  that the  original  intent  was  to                                                               
discriminate.   He   said   the   notion   of   protection   from                                                               
discrimination  is at  the cornerstone  of republican  democracy.                                                               
The success  of democracy rests  upon the assurances  provided to                                                               
those outside the majority, that  their individual rights will be                                                               
protected and that  the majority will not compel  the minority to                                                               
conform to the standards that  only the majority believes in. SJR                                                               
20 sets that standard on its  head and protects the majority from                                                               
having to provide equal treatment to the minority.                                                                              
MR. MACLEOD-BALL  charged that discrimination against  a minority                                                               
class seems to be the primary  purpose of the resolution. He said                                                               
anytime the  majority is asked  whether the rights of  a minority                                                               
should be protected,  there is the risk that  the majority acting                                                               
solely in its  self-interest will vote to restrict  the rights of                                                               
the minority. He said he  could assume from some earlier comments                                                               
that one of  the intentions of the resolution is  to overturn the                                                               
court  decision from  last October  and to  deny public  employee                                                               
benefits to gay  public employees. Doing so is  bad public policy                                                               
and bad policy for Alaska public employees.                                                                                     
Nearly  50  percent  of  Fortune  500  companies  across  America                                                               
provide  domestic  partnership  benefits  to  employees.  British                                                               
Petroleum, Chevron,  Wells Fargo,  Key Bank; all  major employers                                                               
in Alaska,  provide domestic  partnership benefits  to employees.                                                               
All of  the major airlines provide  domestic partnership benefits                                                               
to   employees.   Providence   Hospital,  the   U.S.   House   of                                                               
Representatives  and   Fox  News  provide   domestic  partnership                                                               
benefits  to  employees.  Companies  recognize  it  is  good  for                                                               
business,  provides  a  wider  range   of  talent,  and  provides                                                               
financial security to  employees, and it does so  at virtually no                                                               
cost to employers.                                                                                                              
MR. MACLEOD-BALL  summarized by  advising committee  members that                                                               
if  SJR 20  passes out  of committee  and to  the Senate  Finance                                                               
Standing Committee, the ACLU will  provide proof that the cost of                                                               
providing  public   employment  benefits  to   domestic  partners                                                               
provides  a net  gain by  reducing Medicaid  and other  costs. He                                                               
urged members to oppose the resolution.                                                                                         
10:23:23 AM                                                                                                                   
REVEREND ROBERT  BUTTCANE, Spiritual Director, Unity  Study Group                                                               
of Juneau,  testified in opposition  to SJR 20.  He said he  is a                                                               
proponent  of the  institution  of marriage  and  that people  in                                                               
happy,   loving  relationships   tend  to   be  healthier,   more                                                               
successful people.  Alaska precludes that opportunity  to certain                                                               
members of its  populace. The Alaska Supreme Court  said the 1998                                                               
marriage amendment  created an impossible  situation for  a group                                                               
of people to  enjoy benefits that might otherwise  be afforded to                                                               
those who could be married. He said:                                                                                            
     The  Alaska Supreme  Court said,  "You  cannot have  it                                                                    
     both ways.  You cannot  prohibit marriage to  a certain                                                                    
     group of  people and then  on the other hand  keep them                                                                    
     from  having the  opportunity to  access benefits  that                                                                    
     would otherwise be made to people who could marry."                                                                        
MR. BUTTCANE  noted unlike heterosexual people  who live together                                                               
unmarried, same-sex  people are prohibited from  taking an action                                                               
to access  health benefits.  The language in  SJR 20  is nebulous                                                               
and  imprecise.   He  questioned   the  definition   of  "rights,                                                               
benefits,  obligations, qualities,  or  effects  of marriage"  as                                                               
cited in  the resolution and  asked whether the  painstaking work                                                               
has  been  done which  would  define  what  those are  in  Alaska                                                               
Statutes. He  said SJR 20  came about because of  the "unintended                                                               
consequences"  of  the  Marriage   Amendment  and  wondered  what                                                               
unintended consequences will arise because of SJR 20.                                                                           
10:32:04 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGGINS  commented  he   did  not  recall  the  Marriage                                                               
Amendment issue or  whether he voted on it. He  said he had great                                                               
faith in allowing  the people to vote on the  issue and suggested                                                               
opponents  of  the  resolution  didn't  want  to  hear  what  the                                                               
majority had to  say. He said SJR 20 came  about due to questions                                                               
brought about by the recent Alaska Supreme Court ruling.                                                                        
10:35:18 AM                                                                                                                   
JONATHAN ANDERSON,  Professor of  Public Administration  with the                                                               
University  of Alaska  and  member  of the  City  and Borough  of                                                               
Juneau Assembly, testified in opposition to  SJR 20. He said as a                                                               
professor  of  government  he  knows  that  one  purpose  of  the                                                               
Constitution  is   to  protect   rights.  This  year   Alaska  is                                                               
celebrating 50 years  of the drafting of the  Constitution of the                                                               
State  of  Alaska  and  Article  1  of  that  document  says  the                                                               
constitution is dedicated to the  principle that all persons have                                                               
a natural right to life, liberty  and pursuit of happiness and in                                                               
the enjoyment of  the rewards of their own industry  and that all                                                               
persons are  equal and entitled  to equal  rights, opportunities,                                                               
and protection  under the  law. The  passage of  SJR 20  would be                                                               
contradiction to Article 1, he said.                                                                                            
MR. ANDERSON  expressed concern that  SJR 20  explicitly excludes                                                               
one group  of people from  the rights and privileges  extended to                                                               
others.  He  said  Americans  have  fought  and  died  throughout                                                               
history to  oppose that kind  of policy. He contended  that there                                                               
was a delicate balance between  pure democracy and protecting the                                                               
great principles underlying the nation. He said:                                                                                
     We  have committed  the protection  of  our freedom  to                                                                    
     you,  from the  threat of  the majority.  James Madison                                                                    
     spoke eloquently  of the  dangers of  majority factions                                                                    
     and  the  threat  of  the   majority  to  overturn  the                                                                    
     principles   of  freedom.   Legislators,  our   elected                                                                    
     representatives, are  given a  sacred trust  to protect                                                                    
     the principles  of constitutional  freedom even  from a                                                                    
     majority that would seek to destroy it.                                                                                    
MR. ANDERSON  said it was with  incredible irony that SJR  20 was                                                               
being  heard  on  the  day that  Alaska  was  honoring  Elizabeth                                                               
Peratrovich  for standing  up  against  discrimination of  Native                                                               
Alaskans.  He  urged  committee   members  to  vote  against  the                                                               
10:40:15 AM                                                                                                                   
WILLIE ANDERSON  testified against SJR 20.  He challenged Senator                                                               
Huggins' suggestion  that it was  constitutional to put  the vote                                                               
to the  people. He spoke  of growing  up in South  Carolina where                                                               
people   consistently   voted  discrimination   against   African                                                               
Americans and  suggested that SJR  20 would create the  same type                                                               
of divisiveness. He  asked committee members to  vote against the                                                               
10:44:19 AM                                                                                                                   
LIN DAVIS  testified that she  works for the Department  of Labor                                                               
and   Workforce  Development,   primarily  helping   people  find                                                               
employment. She said  her coworkers celebrated with  her when the                                                               
Alaska  Supreme  Court  ruled on  domestic  partnership  benefits                                                               
because it meant equal pay for  equal work. She said despite good                                                               
jobs it  is reality that  some families  are one car  accident or                                                               
one medical emergency away from a financial crisis.                                                                             
MS. DAVIS  said she liked what  President George W. Bush  said at                                                               
Coretta Scott King's funeral: "Her  work made us whole." She said                                                               
SJR 20  is the opposite  and has great potential  to discriminate                                                               
and damage individuals, Alaskan  communities, and businesses. She                                                               
reminded  Senator Huggins  that half  a million  gay people  were                                                               
killed in the  concentration camps in Nazi  Germany and suggested                                                               
that SJR 20 contained Nazi-like impacts.                                                                                        
10:49:30 AM                                                                                                                   
CHRIS  BEANES   testified  against  SJR   20.  He  said   he  has                                                               
experienced  discrimination because  of  his skin  color but  the                                                               
discrimination he  has experienced  due to  his sexuality  was of                                                               
greater  impact. He  suggested it  was the  job of  the committee                                                               
members to provide equal protection for all.                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS held SJR 20 in committee.                                                                                         

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