Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/25/1996 01:30 PM JUD
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE March 25, 1996 1:30 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Robin Taylor, Chairman Senator Lyda Green, Vice-Chairman Senator Mike Miller Senator Al Adams Senator Johnny Ellis MEMBERS ABSENT None COMMITTEE CALENDAR SENATE BILL NO. 312 "An Act relating to purchase of an alcoholic beverage from a package store." HOUSE BILL NO. 392 am "An Act relating to the reinstatement of dissolved Native village corporations, and to the affirmative vote necessary to amend the articles of incorporation of Native village corporations to authorize the classification of directors." SENATE BILL NO. 308 "An Act clarifying a statute relating to persons who may legally marry; relating to same-sex marriages; and providing for an effective date." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 226(FIN) am "An Act permitting the provision of different retirement and health benefits to certain employees by differentiating between benefits provided to employees with spouses or children and to other employees." SENATE BILL NO. 268 "An Act relating to release before trial in cases involving controlled substances." CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 207(CRA) "An Act authorizing the issuance and sale of revenue bonds to fund public wastewater systems, nonpoint source water pollution control projects, including solid waste management systems, and estuary conservation and management projects; authorizing the use of the Alaska clean water fund to pay and secure the bonds and to pay costs related to issuance and administration of the bonds; authorizing certain measures to secure payment of the bonds; and amending Rule 3, Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure." (SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD.) PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION SB 312 - No previous Senate committee action. HB 392 - See Community & Regional Affairs minutes dated 2/26/96. SB 308 - See Senate Health, Education & Social Services minutes dated 3/18/96 and 3/20/96. HB 226 - No previous Senate committee action. SB 268 - See Judiciary minutes dated 3/13/96 and 3/22/96. WITNESS REGISTER Laurie Otto Deputy Attorney General Criminal Division Department of Law P.O. Box 110300 Juneau, Alaska 99811-0300 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 268 and offered amendments Ms. Pat Walker Staff to Representative Ivan Ivan Alaska State Legislature Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified for sponsor of HB 392 Senator Loren Leman Alaska State Legislature Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified on SB 308 Joann Jenckes Kenai POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 308 Dan Davis P.O. Box 1285 Delta, Alaska POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 308 Robert Knight, Director Family Research Council Washington, DC 202-393-2100 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 308 Steve Pitcher Virginia 804-424-4242 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 308 Mark Tumio Texas 409-268-1552 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Michael Johnston National Campaign to Protect Marriage P.O. Box 210906 Anchorage, AK 99521 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 308 Susan Moeller 1014 W 16th Ave. #4 Anchorage, AK 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Connie Faipzas 2846 Redwood Place Anchorage, AK 99508 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Lynn Stimler ACLU P.O. Box 201844 Anchorage, AK 99520 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Mary Elizabeth Rider 3524 E 15th Ave. Anchorage, AK 99508 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Mark Molinhauer POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 308 Mildred Boesser 17585 Lena Loop Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Marsha Buck PFLAG 8445 Kimberly St. Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Carol Anderson 202 Hermit Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Susan Hargis Southeast Alaska Gay and Lesbian Alliance P.O. Box 22493 Juneau, AK 99802 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Sara Boesser Committee for Equality 9365 View Dr. Juneau, AK 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 and HB 226 Mary Graham 235 5th Street Juneau, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Janine Williamson POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed to SB 308 Russell Bowde Delta Junction, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SB 308 Debbie Martinez Fairbanks, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Cindy Boesser Juneau, AK POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 308 Representative Pete Kelly Alaska State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99801-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 226 ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-27, SIDE A Number 001 CHAIRMAN ROBIN TAYLOR called the Judiciary Committee meeting to order at 1:30 p.m. Senators Adams and Miller were present. The first order of business was SB 268. SB 268 PRETRIAL RELEASE FOR DRUG OFFENSES LAURIE OTTO, representing the Department of Law (DOL), addressed the proposed committee substitute. DOL feels the committee substitute strengthens the bill and more closely parallels the conditions of release currently requested by the department. Referring to item (4) on page 2, Ms. Otto noted current bail condition language states, "to not have in the defendant's possession or control, ..." which she believes is stronger language. Similarly, on line 31, page 2, DOL would prefer the language, "to not have a firearm or a knife in the defendant's possession or control." A current bail provision prohibits the defendant from having any weapon, including a firearm or knife, to prevent drug offenders from being armed when out on bail. SENATOR TAYLOR and MS. OTTO discussed the semantic problem of including the word "knife" since a knife is an ordinary household item. SENATOR TAYLOR was concerned that the language be enforceable from a practical standpoint, since the defendant would be prohibited from having a knife in a vehicle or his/her residence. MS. OTTO pointed out the list of conditions currently used were developed by prosecutors in Anchorage who deal with drug offenders daily and are imposed to protect the public. MS. OTTO suggested the following changes: on page 2, line 31, and page 3, line 1: (1) to not have a firearm in the defendant's possession or control in any vehicle over which the defendant has control, or in the defendant's residence, or a knife on the defendant's person; and on page 3, line 5: (13) to not engage in any conduct or to refrain from any conduct that the court considers reasonably necessary to protect the public, and to assure the appearance of the person in court. Number 132 MS. OTTO offered two other amendments to CSSB 268. On page 3, lines 2-3 and 15-19 require the defendant to attend drug, alcohol, or personal counseling as conditions of bail. That condition is similar to a condition contained in a domestic violence bail condition statute and when imposed has resulted in court appeals based on Fifth Amendment rights. DOL has, as a matter of policy, asked prosecutors not to request that condition because of the constitutional problem of requiring the defendant to confess to conduct that he/she has not been convicted of. DOL has spent considerable time in the last year reviewing appropriate conditions for domestic violence cases because the current conditions in statute are inadequate. She asked the committee to consider amending the domestic violence statute to fix it, rather than to include the same problematic conditions in a new bill. SENATOR TAYLOR asked Ms. Otto to submit suggested language to committee staff so that the proposed committee substitute could be redrafted. Number 217 SENATOR ADAMS inquired whether Section 2 of the proposed CSSB 268 coincides with the Governor's domestic violence legislation. MS. OTTO clarified she is requesting the committee to add the domestic violence bail conditions from the Governor's bill to CSSB 268. MS. OTTO acknowledged DOL supports CSSB 268 and appreciates the sponsor's willingness to work with department staff. SENATOR TAYLOR noted his continuing concern that by specifying bail conditions in statute, the legislation might imply to the court the list is complete or final. MS. OTTO observed DOL shares that concern, especially in light of the fact that the department is currently receiving the bail conditions it has requested. The broader concern is that three classes of offenses will have been designated in statute for which specific bail conditions apply. The court may interpret that specification to mean the same conditions do not apply to other offenses by omission. She interpreted the listing of conditions as the legislature's attempt to deal with specific problems identified, but in every other respect, appropriate bail conditions are left to the court's discretion for offenses other than those in CSSB 268. Number 268 SENATOR GREEN questioned whether other statutory language addresses weapons in a more general way than just firearms or knives. MS. OTTO replied bail conditions are not normally specified in statute; conditions are usually tailored, by the court, to the individual. DOL often requests, in cases where there is a risk of violence, for bail conditions that restrict an individual's access to weapons. SB 312 LICENSEE BUYING LIQUOR FROM PACKAGE STORE SENATOR TAYLOR, sponsor of SB 312, informed committee members when the Alcohol Beverage Control Board bill was passed last year, it had the unintended effect of banning a practice common among retailers. Bars and restaurants would often purchase alcohol from businesses, such as COSTCO or from a retail package store, when wholesale delivery was not on a daily basis. That question was raised during hearings, but the committee was reassured the unintended effect would not occur, however that advice was in error. SB 312 cleans up the misinterpretation and amends last year's bill to allow a person holding a dispensary, restaurant, club, or package store license to purchase from a package store, as long as the package store obtained its product from a wholesaler. It retains the protection against gray market goods while restoring the ability of bars and restaurants to purchase from package stores and discount outlets. SENATOR ADAMS stated this bill corrects an oversight in SB 87, and moved and asked unanimous consent that SB 312 be moved out of committee. There being no objection, the motion carried. SENATOR TAYLOR noted there were no witnesses to testify on SB 312, and that Mr. Gilman had called in support of the measure. HB 392 NATIVE VILLAGE CORPORATIONS PAT WALKER, legislative aide to Representative Ivan, sponsor of the measure, explained the legislation. HB 392 amends the Alaska Corporations Code to allow ANCSA village corporations to amend their articles of incorporation to authorize a classified or staggered term board of directors by a majority vote by the shares represented at a meeting of shareholders. Under current law, for those villages which did not have classified boards in place by July 1, 1989, such an amendment requires a vote of two-thirds of all outstanding shares entitled to vote. This has been difficult for village corporations to achieve. In addition, HB 392 was amended to allow ANCSA village corporations that have been involuntarily dissolved by the state an opportunity to reinstate one year after the effective date of this act. A similar provision was provided by the 18th Alaska Legislature in 1994 under HB 71. According to the Division of Banking, Securities, and Corporations there remain five Native village corporations that did not take advantage of the 1994 reinstatement. There being no questions, SENATOR ADAMS moved and asked unanimous consent that HB 392am be moved from committee. There being no objection, the motion carried. SB 308 PROHIBIT SAME SEX MARRIAGES SENATOR LEMAN presented SB 308 for the Senate HES Committee. SB 308 has three main provisions. Section 1 clarifies that a marriage is between one man and one woman. According to the Department of Law, existing statute is enforced that way, however 22 years ago some of the words were changed in a revisor's bill; with the possibility the change could be substantive. The second provision, in Section 2, prevents Alaska from acknowledging same sex marriages acknowledged by other states. The third provision prevents a same sex relationship, not consummated by marriage, from being recognized by the state as being entitled to the benefits of marriage. The impetus for the legislation is a court case in the State of Hawaii. A number of states are concerned that public policy should be determined by the states and their legislatures, not by a handful of judges. SENATOR ADAMS asked for a legal analysis of SB 308. SENATOR LEMAN responded his analysis is that the bill is legal. SENATOR TAYLOR questioned the amendment added to Representative Kelly's bill. SENATOR LEMAN explained a bill passed the House that deals with benefits at the University of Alaska and State of Alaska. A second bill in the House contains parts of SB 308, specifically the definition of marriage. Number 386 SENATOR ELLIS asked if the State of Alaska has ever recognized a marriage between two people of the same gender. SENATOR LEMAN replied it has not. SENATOR ELLIS asked if that is existing law. SENATOR LEMAN answered it is, and DOL enforces it that way. JOANNE JENCKES testified from Kenai in support of SB 308 as it will help to preserve the family. DAN DAVIS testified from Delta in strong support of SB 308 as it addresses a serious social problem. He commended the Senate for taking action on this issue and believes the state must do everything in its power to promote the standard heterosexual husband-wife family. Elevating the dangerous practices of homosexuality with legally protected status is devoid of reason and morality. Statistics show the average life expectancy of a homosexual male and lesbian female is 43 and 45 years respectively. MICHAEL JOHNSTON, the state director of the National Campaign to Protect Marriage, testified from Anchorage in support of SB 308. SB 308 is a common sense approach to deal with two primary issues: ambiguity and the Alaska marriage statute. The issue of ambiguity revolves around gender neutral language. Marriage has never been neutral and statutory changes to gender neutral language were not intended by the legislature to legalize same sex marriages. The statutory issue deals with potential controversy in other jurisdictions. Several states have passed legislation similar to SB 308, and 22 states are currently considering similar legislation. SB 308 provides for a strong public policy against same sex marriages necessary to support an extension from the requirement for the state to give full faith and credit to public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state as described in the U.S. Constitution. Opponents argue SB 308 is unnecessary, warrants extensive litigation, and is discriminatory. The threat of costly litigation is a moot point because if Alaska does not take action now and establish a clear policy, it will be a matter of time before same sex marital contracts from other states will be contested in Alaska courts. KATE WATTUM testified from Fairbanks in opposition of SB 308 as it fuels the fires of intolerance and hatred and sends the message that discrimination is acceptable. It is a nonsense law that will mobilize, not stop, activists. SB 308 puts discriminatory views into law by not acknowledging equal rights for all citizens. Number 490 BOB KNIGHT, representing the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. stated an overwhelming number of studies show communities with the most intact families are healthier, and children in intact families experience higher academic achievement, are more secure psychologically and economically, commit fewer crimes, and are far less likely to fall into social pathologies such as unwed pregnancies, drug abuse, venereal disease and deviancies of all types. Marriage and the family are the key organizing principle behind all civilizations, and exist for procreative purposes. In a same sex relationship, one gender is radically excluded. The U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1885 that the law protecting marriage was so important that any state wanting to become part of the union must protect it. Same sex couples can have marriage ceremonies, but legally sanctioning those marriages would have serious consequences for others. Schools would have to teach that homosexual sex is the equivalent of marital love between husband and wife; businesses would be forced to subsidize homosexual relationships or face the full power of the law wielded against them; churches believe that homosexuality is a sin and would find themselves outside the law and it could affect tax-exempt status; and groups like the Boy Scouts of America, already under severe attack in the courts, would be under increasing pressure to have homosexual leaders. Opening the door to same sex marriages would prevent the denial of multiple partner unions. Number 562 KIMBERLY MACK testified from Barrow in opposition to SB 308. Gay marriages do not threaten anyone. The presumption that gay people are strange is not justified or fair. In long term homosexual relationships, partners need the same benefits and protections as married couples. Gay people contribute to society and deserve to be acknowledged and receive the same protections as everyone else. MARK TUMIO testified from Texas in opposition to SB 308. He appreciated the fact that SB 308 has not been veiled in vague terms and promoted through excuses of financial or economic concerns, like HB 226. Ten percent of our society is denied the basic right of equal protection under the law, granted to opposite sex couples. Opposite sex couples get this right regardless of whether they are in good marriages or whether they are good and moral people: it is a right associated solely with their sexuality. Many churches, throughout history, have sanctioned same sex or multiple partner marriages. Gays and lesbians are not trying to change the law: that is being done by the sponsor of SB 308. Gays and lesbians are only asking to be treated fairly: this is not a gay agenda, it is a human agenda. The Hawaii court case will not be settled for several years and invalidating marriages from other states will not pass constitutional muster. TAPE 96-27, SIDE B Number 572 STEVE FITCHER, Director of the National Legal Foundation, stated if Hawaii recognizes same sex marriages, homosexual couples from all over America will travel to Hawaii to marry and return to their native states and seek to have those marriages recognized, according to two Law Review articles. Both authors believe that a state's best defense, if opposed to recognizing same sex marriages, is a choice of law issue which should be shown with a strong public policy against such marriages. SB 308 is well drafted for that purpose. Two reasons to enforce SB 308 are morality and the impact to the state. The framers of the Constitution left the police power to the states which includes public safety and public morality. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled, in Powers v. Hardwick, that the majority sentiments about homosexuality can be grounds for legislation. Regarding the impact of recognition to the state, in the Hawaii case itself, the Hawaii Supreme Court recognized 14 broad areas of their state code which would be impacted, and that list was not exhaustive. He believes the bill is constitutional as there is no fundamental right either to homosexual sodomy or to homosexual marriage arriving from the privacy right or anywhere else. The key difference between Hawaii and Alaska is that in Hawaii the Supreme Court remanded the case instructing the trial court to use a strict scrutiny standard. In Alaska a rational basis test is used. Number 529 SENATOR TAYLOR noted he had a full copy of the lawsuit and appeal filed against the University of Alaska; the points made to the court in that case are available to the committee. MILDRED BOESSER, representing the City and Borough of Juneau Human Rights Commission on SB 308 and HB 226, stated the commission voted unanimously at its March 1996 meeting to go on record as opposing SB 308 as a violation of human rights. She read a statement from the committee in opposition to HB 226 (available in committee packets). She noted she is a lifelong committed Christian and disagreed with the statement that all major churches define homosexuality as a sin. The Episcopal church does not do so. She believes it is more important to enlarge the concept of marriage rather than redefine or undermine traditional marriage. SENATOR TAYLOR asked Ms. Boesser about the heresy trial in the Episcopal church. MS. BOESSER replied a small group of bishops, mostly retired, have brought a heresy trial against a fellow bishop who ordained a gay man living in a committed homosexual relationship. The case is not about the fact that a gay man was ordained, it is about the fact that this bishop is living in an open relationship. She believed that policy to be hypocritical. SENATOR TAYLOR commented that is similar to the President's position on the military. MARSHA BUCK, representing Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Juneau, testified in opposition to SB 308 and HB 226 because both bills are based on erroneous information and are discriminatory and unconstitutional. Gay and lesbian people have a God-given sexual orientation. Lying about one's opponent is effective political weaponry, however gays and lesbians are not anyone's opponents, they are constituents. She emphasized PFLAG-Juneau is opposed specifically to SB 308 because if passed, it is only a matter of time before an expensive court case will ensue, and the law will be found to be unconstitutional based on the state reciprocity provision in the U.S. Constitution. Number 410 CAROL ANDERSON testified in opposition to SB 308 as it is an attempt to deny the basic human right of marriage to lesbians and gays. Gays and lesbians have been around since the beginning of time making their quiet contributions to society. Many gays and lesbians are afraid to publically object to bills such as these because there are no city, state, or federal laws to protect them from discrimination. They could be fired from jobs, evicted from homes, and lose custody of children. SB 308 will codify the discriminatory practice of allowing people to marry a person only of the opposite sex. Gay people want the status of legal families, to provide for their children, to be allowed hospital visitation, and to be entitled as surviving spouses to social security benefits, and to avoid inheritance problems. SENATOR TAYLOR clarified that no one in Alaska pays inheritance taxes to the State of Alaska unless they pay federal inheritance taxes. For a couple, the net estate must be worth $1.2 million; for an individual the net estate must be $600,000. He wondered if Ms. Anderson was referring to the transfer of property without the requirement of probate. A husband and wife owning property jointly in an estate called "tenants by the entirety with right of survivorship" provides that when one spouse dies, the property automatically transfers to the other spouse on the filing of the death certificate with the recorder's office. Same sex partners would not have that opportunity under Alaska real estate law, because the property is not owned by a married couple with right of survivorship. PHIL REEMTSMA, a member of Cavalry Baptist Church in Kenai, testified in support of SB 308. The issue of same sex marriages is not one of discrimination, it is an issue about the erosion of society. Scripturally speaking, the Bible declares homosexuality to be a sin. Homosexuals are not born as homosexuals, otherwise many homosexuals would not change to heterosexual lifestyles. Opponents of same sex marriages are not hate mongers. SUSAN MOELLER, a nurse from Anchorage, stated she often works with families in their homes in stressful situations and often sees people in same sex relationships caring for their partner's relatives. She supports all families, regardless of sexual orientation, and believes recognizing same sex marriages will strengthen relationships and not be harmful to anyone. MARY BISHOP, President of Fairbanks PFLAG, testified on her own behalf. PFLAG is a gay/straight reliance with the mission of continuing relationships between gay children and their families. In a school in Utah all extracurricular organizations were terminated rather than allow an organization named the Gay/Straight Alliance to meet. In a neighboring school, an organization named Students Against Faggots Everywhere (SAFE) was meeting at the school and was not questioned. She asked which high school committee members would want their children to attend. She supported Ms. Boesser's testimony. Number 263 SUSAN HARGESS, Chair of the Southeast Alaska Gay and Lesbian Alliance, testified in opposition to SB 308. This legislation is discriminatory and will not help preserve families, since relationships will be strengthened by more people living in committed relationships. She considers herself an honest hardworking person, deserving of the same benefits as other people, including the right to choose who to marry. SARA BOESSER, speaking for the Committee for Equality, opposed SB 308. It discriminates on the basis of gender in that it forces a person to only select for marriage a person of the opposite gender. As far as breaking other states' contracts, this bill is the most blatantly anti-gay/lesbian bill to date in the legislature. Press reports nationwide show that hate crimes increase when lesbian and gay citizens are subjected to hearing anti-gay bills that are being debated by legislatures. Not long ago, legislative bodies prevented slaves from marrying one another, fortunately time and reason have caused those laws to end and that practice changed. More recently, mixed race marriages were also made illegal by legislative bodies. Finally some states crossed that norm and declared those marriages legal. Around the country, bills like SB 308 sprung up, however the Constitution's full faith and credit clause, which requires states to uphold one another's judicial proceedings, overturned those unconstitutional laws, because legal comity is required across state lines for state contracts. She questioned why heterosexual couples are not required to promise to procreate when applying for marriage licenses if that is the premise for marriage. Would elderly people, or sterile people be denied licenses? A major battle cry against the women's vote was that it would destroy the family. The Hawaiian court case will not be reheard in lower court until midsummer, with a decision at the end of 1996. Since either side promises a Supreme Court appeal, Hawaii's court will not have Supreme Court resolution until 1997 or 1998. This same bill has been proposed, almost verbatim, to over 20 states. In the majority of those states the bill has been rejected. This issue needs legal research and there is ample time to follow the Hawaii case. Religious groups do not have to approve or religiously bless same gender marriages, but to pressure the state to break gender nondiscrimination and contract law across state lines is unconscionable. The decision about who can receive a state marriage license with all the benefits it provides should be left to the courts. KRISTIANE HOOPER testified in opposition to SB 308 and HB 226 based on the fact it violates her civil rights and discriminates by determining who can marry based on gender. DANIEL COLLISON, board member of the Southeast Alaska Gay and Lesbian Alliance, read testimony to committee members from a paper on themes from, "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" by Frederick Jackson Turner. He submitted written testimony to be included in committee members' packets. TAPE 96-28, SIDE A Number 000 MARY GRAHAM, testified in opposition to SB 308, and thinks it is best to leave the law as is and let the issue be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. State resources need to be used for more pressing issues. Regarding religion, the Universalist Church does not believe gay and lesbian people are living in sin, and supports the union of such relationships. MARK MOLINHAUER testified in support of SB 308 and HB 226 and urged committee members to not let the threat of a lawsuit influence their votes. This issue is a matter of state's rights and sovereignty, and is not about hate but about the institution of marriage. He discussed historical examples of the disintegration of societies based on moral values. He argued that the concept of enlarging the institution of marriage could lead to marriages between pedophiles and minors. CONNIE FAIPEAS testified in opposition to SB 308 from Fairbanks. The state is obligated to provide an impartial licensing system for many things, marriage being one. Religious interpretation is not the job of the state; it is the job of individual churches and their members. The state subsidizes marriage in the form of tax and inheritance laws, and denying those benefits to some is blatant discrimination. She asked Senator Taylor if he was implying that because inheritance laws only affect estates over $600,000, those laws are non-discriminatory because they only affect a small number of people. SENATOR TAYLOR clarified he was trying to explain the difference between the inheritance laws and the opportunity to avoid probate in the conveyance of real property. He agreed that law is discriminatory in that there is a distinction and a difference within the federal tax code between single individuals and married couples, but that discrimination has been sanctioned by both the Constitution and federal government, because it has been challenged and upheld in court several times. JANINE WILLIAMSON, testifying via teleconference from Fairbanks, believed both SB 308 and HB 226 to be hypocritical as they deny people in committed relationships benefits solely because their partners are the same gender. Married couples can partake in all kinds of immoral behavior and still receive benefits. Both bills deny her not only the ability to marry, but benefits also. LYNN STIMLER, representing the Alaska Civil Liberties Union, expressed concern that SB 308 will not meet constitutional muster. She made the following points. Marriage has traditionally been defined as a union between people of different sexes. As recently as 1967, state governments were able to deny interracial couples the right to marry. Marriage requirements differ from state to state, in terms of parental consent for certain ages, and blood tests, therefore denying full faith and credit for marriages recognized in one state and not another will create a climate of uncertainty. Any marriage recognized in any state could be denied the recognition of other states unless it was performed in the exact same way which leads directly to the full faith and credit analysis. The U.S. Constitution and Alaska Constitution provide that judgments of one state be recognized as valid in another state. This clause has only been addressed by the Supreme Court; it has never ruled on whether marriages must be accorded full faith and credit. She discussed the legal analysis of both sides of the argument and warned that if SB 308 passes, Alaska faces a very expensive court challenge. She also believed the right to interstate travel might also be implicated. The ACLU recommends Alaska not pass SB 308 at this time, and wait for other states to bear the cost of this challenge. Number 229 RUSSELL BOWDRE, a farmer from Delta Junction, testified in opposition to SB 308. He discussed his belief that homosexuality is not biologically based, because he has never seen same gender sexual relationships among animals, and believes that does not occur because the species could not procreate. MARY ELIZABETH RIDER testified on HB 226 from Anchorage. In the last few years she has worked to decrease the state's cost of health care through the medicaid program by encouraging people to take personal responsibility for themselves and family members. HB 226 places one more barrier in front of people who are trying to take responsibility for people for whom they are morally, if not legally, responsible. She discussed a personal situation in which she cared for a foster child but was not legally able to provide the child with health insurance coverage. The child became very ill and died; she was forced to pay $24,000 in medical bills out of pocket. She likened the situation to gay couples who are unable to provide coverage for partners, forcing many to use medicaid, which can be degrading, and expensive to the state. DEBBIE MARTINEZ, testifying from Fairbanks, urged committee members to throw out SB 308 and HB 226 as they are motivated by fear and bigotry. A state marriage is a legal document and should not be denied to any two adults who choose to enter into it. Hospitals can deny visitation to same sex partners, families can contest wills, and although gays and lesbians must pay taxes, they do not reap benefits. Number 354 SENATOR TAYLOR commented families cannot contest wills if the deceased disinherited family members, and encouraged Ms. Martinez to seek legal advice. If a person disinherits family members, he/she can leave his/her estate to a chicken if desired. CINDY BOESSER, a Juneau resident, stated she has many friends and family members who are gay and lesbian. She believes it is wrong that those friends cannot have the same benefits she does as a spouse. Gay couples are perfectly capable of raising children and are not horrible people. SENATOR ELLIS asked about the basis for some of the criticism of the bill in regard to constitutional problems, specifically the immunities clause, full faith and credit clause, and the privacy clause of the Alaska Constitution. He believed it is the Judiciary Committee's responsibility to make recommendations to the full legislature on those questions. SENATOR TAYLOR noted he was relying on the materials provided at this point, and had not done any separate research on those questions. He referred to a legal opinion in committee packets from Assistant Attorney General John Gaguine who believes the bill is constitutional. SENATOR MILLER added the Department of Law wrote an additional analysis on its fiscal note which states SB 308 reinforces existing law. Number 407 SENATOR TAYLOR believed the fundamental question to be whether a society has a right to discriminate between various groups. The Supreme Court has routinely allowed discrimination based on various subjects and purposes, if those purposes are well founded. There is a lengthy listing of existing Alaska statutes that discriminate in that fashion, listed in the brief filed against the University of Alaska. He believed to discriminate in that fashion to be constitutional. SENATOR ELLIS questioned which part of the U.S. Constitution speaks to comity of contracts. SENATOR TAYLOR replied that is the full faith and credit provision; each state should give due deference and respect to each other state. He added the Uniform Probate Code and Uniform Child Protection Act were passed because different states have different laws. SENATOR ELLIS noted uniform laws are passed to make it easy for people, not because it is required. SENATOR TAYLOR agreed the purpose is to make people's lives better. SENATOR ELLIS repeated his question about whether Senator Taylor believes SB 308 is constitutional under the state and federal constitutions. SENATOR TAYLOR answered that is the Attorney General's opinion, and he believed that opinion to be well founded in the cases cited and in the discussion in the memorandum. SENATOR MILLER moved SB 308 out of committee with individual recommendations. SENATOR ELLIS objected. The motion carried with Senators Green, Miller and Taylor voting "yea," and Senators Adams and Ellis voting "nay." HB 226 BENEFIT DISCRIM BASED ON SPOUSE OR KIDS SENATOR GREEN moved to adopt the Senate Judiciary committee substitute (Cramer, version D) of HB 226. SENATOR ELLIS objected. SENATOR TAYLOR explained the committee substitute was prepared to address questions that had arisen in the House. REPRESENTATIVE PETE KELLY, sponsor of the measure, reviewed changes made to the proposed committee substitute. Previous language provided for different health benefits to employees who have a spouse or dependent children, than to other employees. The word "different" was changed to "greater." The second change defines in the Alaskan Human Rights Code "dependent children." There being no further discussion on the motion to adopt the committee substitute, the motion carried with Senators Adams and Ellis voting "nay," and Senators Miller, Green and Taylor voting "yea." Number 475 MILDRED BOESSER testified in opposition to SCSHB 226 because there are no legal or financial reasons to pass the bill, and it is unnecessary to discriminate on the basis of marital status. The bill should be amended to include domestic partners, as it was in the House. It would then follow Judge Green's court decision. SENATOR TAYLOR questioned the House action on the amendment referred to by Ms. Boesser. MS. BOESSER replied the amendment was added, then removed, in the House and allowed benefits to domestic partners as well as married couples. Many universities and businesses have adopted such a policy and find it to be good for business. SENATOR ELLIS moved to amend SCSHB 226. SENATOR GREEN objected. SENATOR ELLIS described the amendment as the domestic partners' provision. The amendment clearly defines what a domestic partnership is, and requires that financial interdependency must exist for these kinds of relationships to be recognized. It addresses economic concerns stated by the sponsor, protects the state's human rights statute and continues the prohibition on discrimination against Alaskans based on marital status. In addition, it promotes long term stable relationships that are of social and financial benefit to the state. There being no further discussion on the motion to adopt the amendment, the motion failed with Senators Taylor, Green, and Miller voting "nay," and Senators Ellis and Adams voting "yea." SENATOR ELLIS expressed concern about the lack of consideration given to the amendment by the committee. SENATOR TAYLOR acknowledged Senator Green's previous attempt to move SCSCSHB 226 out of committee with individual recommendations, and objection. The motion carried with Senators Taylor, Green, and Miller voting "yea," and Senators Ellis and Adams voting "nay." Senator Taylor adjourned the meeting at 3:50 p.m.