Legislature(2021 - 2022)GRUENBERG 120
03/14/2022 01:00 PM House JUDICIARY
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HB 17-DISCRIMINATION: GENDER ID.;SEXUAL ORIENT. [Contains discussion on SB 140.] 1:35:38 PM CHAIR CLAMAN announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE BILL NO. 17, "An Act adding to the powers and duties of the State Commission for Human Rights; and relating to and prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression." 1:36:06 PM CHAIR CLAMAN opened public testimony on HB 17. 1:36:35 PM NOAH WILLIAMS testified in support of HB 17. He stated that he had witnessed the harm of gender- and sex-based hatred as he had been called as the emergency contact for queer, trans, and gender non-conforming friends who had experienced crises of self-harm. He stated that one could not legislate such matters out of existence, but there could be reduction of financial harm by making discrimination against such groups illegal. He stated that the legislature could indicate support to the groups by passing HB 17. He stated that the passage of HB 17 would be a declaration that such hatred is unacceptable and that such views are not the majority opinion. He mentioned that SB 140 would crush the queer community and as such, should SB 140 pass, it would politically backfire. He stated his support for adding the recognition of gender identity as its own pillar. He stated that much case law relies on a relies on a reversal precedent that would couple sex and gender, and he offered that gender is a social construct. He also offered that sex and gender are on a spectrum. 1:38:35 PM QUEEN PARKER testified in opposition to HB 17. She stated her opinion that the passage of HB 17 would punish businesses and individuals that would not allow a biological man to sleep in an abused women's shelter. She spoke to which God had intended. 1:39:48 PM JESSICA ROZATO testified in support of HB 17. She spoke of her experience as a queer person. She stated that she had experienced support from her friends and family. She thanked the sponsor for creating an opportunity for protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, and Queer (LGBTQ) community. She characterized the human rights protections for the LGBTQ community as being new and under constant challenge. She offered that Alaska, as a state, values privacy more than potentially any other state, and that she urged the passage of HB 17. 1:41:16 PM KASEY CASSORT testified in support of HB 17. She stated that she had become aware of similar proposed legislation while she was a high school student and that she had studied the language in the bill to learn of its proposed protections. She noted that, during her examination of the bill, she had become aware of the extent of the need for protections against discrimination related to housing, employment, banking, and public services. She stated that it had been nearly a decade sine the previous bill had been introduced and suggested that it would be timely should HB 17 pass. She expressed frustration that members of the LGBTQ community had testified to the legislature regarding terrifying moments of experiencing discrimination and no legislation had been passed to prevent such discrimination. She offered experiences that she characterized as joyful as a member of the LGBTQ community and of having participated in many events. 1:43:23 PM KAREN BAKER testified in support of HB 17. She stated that Alaska is in dire need of statewide protections for the LGBTQ community. She stated that only a few communities have anti- discrimination laws protecting against discrimination related to gender identity or sexual orientation. She stated that it was permissible for an individual to be evicted from housing and fired from a job based on who that person is or based on who he/she loves. She shared her experience of working to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance in Fairbanks and that a vocal minority had offered abusive testimony and accused the LGBTQ community of horrendous acts. She stated that members of the LGBTQ community had put themselves at risk of loss of employment or housing by speaking in favor of the ordinance prior to its passage. She noted that the former mayor had vetoed the ordinance a few days following its passage. She stated that such protections should exist for all Alaskans and not be subject to the whims of whomever happens to be mayor or based on where in Alaska he/she lives. She stated that an anti- transgender bill had been introduced in the other body and that over 100 people contacted the legislature in opposition. She expressed her frustration that previously proposed similar legislation had not passed. 1:45:40 PM ELLEN WEISER testified in support of HB 17. She stated that she was a teacher for many years and herself was not a member of the LGBTQ community. She stated that she had observed the negative impacts that discrimination of such members of the community as well as those who discriminate. She expressed her fear of the fact that young people are growing up in communities in which such debates must occur. She stated that the children affected may become public officials in the future and stated that discrimination in any form is dangerous for all involved. She urged the passage of HB 17. 1:47:28 PM AMY BENDER testified in support of HB 17. She stated that HB 17 would address equality and personal liberty. She offered that all should be able to live without fear regardless of sexual orientation or identity. She cited that nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ Americans had reported having been the victim of discrimination. She noted that during her experience as a nurse practitioner she worked with clients who identify as LGBTQ on a daily basis, and she expressed her anger at the reports of discrimination that she had learned to exist. She stated that all citizens should be permitted to have a home and employment without the fear of discrimination. She urged the passage of HB 17. 1:48:40 PM CRYSTAL BARWICK testified in support of HB 17. She echoed previous testimony and expressed her belief that identity politics could be used to discriminate against others. She expressed her gratitude for the sponsors and other supporters of the bill. 1:49:50 PM BRENDA HASTIE testified in opposition to HB 17. She asked the committee to consider the Holy Bible and expressed her belief that passing the bill would result in destruction. She expressed her belief that biological women would be protected, should the bill not pass. 1:51:34 PM DAVID CLARK, Gender Justice & Policy Communications Manager, Native Movement, testified in support of HB 17. He urged strong action on the bill to provide justice to LGBTQ Alaskans in employment and housing. He noted that only four communities in Alaska had codified nondiscrimination policies to protect LGBTQ and two-spirit individuals. He stated that individuals deserve protections in law, and that the law should not protect perpetrators of discrimination based on personal and religious claims. He urged the passage of HB 17. 1:52:50 PM ARLEIGH HITCHCOCK testified in support of HB 17. She noted that there had occurred attacks against LGBTQ individuals across the country and within Alaska. She stated that the passage of HB 17 was necessary considering the proposed [SB] 140. She expressed that she had experienced discrimination as an openly trans person and she shared experiences of joy as a member of the LGBTQ community. She urged support for the passage of HB 17. 1:54:15 PM MICHAEL GARVEY, American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, testified in support of HB 17. He characterized the bill as critical legislation to protect members of the LGBTQ community from discrimination. He noted that some communities in Alaska had enacted local nondiscrimination ordinances and that those outside of those communities deserve the same protections. He stated that explicit statutory protections from tangible harms were necessary pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. He noted that HB 17 would establish these protections in the areas of housing, employment, banking, and public accommodations. He offered that a 2015 survey of trans people in Alaska revealed high percentages of respondents reporting instances of denials of employment or job loss, housing denials or evictions, denials of services from businesses open to the public, harassment, and assault. He offered that that this type of discrimination would be antithetical to the fair and free place that Alaska strives to become. He stated that the LGBTQ community wants access to housing, economic stability, and the ability to care for their families. 1:56:44 PM JULIE SMYTH testified in support of HB 17. She stated that her Inupiaq culture has no pronouns, and three genders. She noted that many types of relationships have existed throughout Inupiaq history, and the Inupiaq culture is not unique to this. She stated her belief in the value of the separation of church and state and offered that there exists no reason to not pass the bill other than that of religion. She shared her experience in the workplace of observing managers concealing the identity of trans workers to protect them from termination. She had observed individuals having lost their jobs due to being vocal about their involvement in the LGBTQ community. She stated that HB 17 would support indigenous communities throughout Alaska. 1:58:22 PM MICHELLE GAVEL testified in support of HB 17. She stated her support of friends and family member who are members of the LGBTQ community. She shared her observation of joy and harm resulting from legislation pertaining to discrimination. She asked fellow testifiers who offer comments regarding religion to be mindful of the edict to "love thy neighbor." She urged the passage of HB 17. 2:00:04 PM PHIL MOSER testified in support of HB 17. He stated that the need for the passage of HB 17 exists to protect neighbors and community members. He described the "lavender scare" as being akin to the "red scare" to single individuals out for their existence in the LGBTQ community. He requested that the committee consider the first action of the Nazi Party when it came into power was to ban books on gender-affirming health care to trans people. 2:02:28 PM MARY ELIZABETH KEHRHAHN-STARK testified in support of HB 17. She urged the committee's support of the bill that would provide statewide protection for non-discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. She characterized views of the LGBTQ community as antiquated simply due to differences in lifestyle. She stated that the U. S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County in 2020 had prompted the Alaska Human Rights Commission included sexual orientation and gender identity in the definition of sex. She stated that there exist broad demographics that include race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, religion, and other groups throughout the world. 2:04:31 PM LIN DAVIS testified in support of HB 17. She shared her experience in advocating for LGBTQ human rights for over 30 years and noted that she had testified to the legislature in support of previous, similar legislation for more than 10 years. She stated that those in opposition to this and similar bills have done so with hostility. She added that the passage of SB 140 would cause harm to Alaska. She shared an anecdote in which same-sex military families in Alaska had been denied permanent fund dividends. She urged the passage of HB 17. 2:06:58 PM ALYSSA QUINTYNE testified in support of HB 17. She suggested that the legislature had failed over the course of more than 63 years to protect its LGBTQ constituents. She stated that the core purpose of the proposed bill would be to ensure that constituents have access to resources, services, and opportunities that are necessary to survive. She shared her experience of members of the LGBTQ community having been fired, attacked, evicted, denied medical services, and denied education due to other individuals' discomfort with the identity of those being served. She stated that failure to pass HB 17 would be tantamount to protecting some individuals' perspectives. She expressed her ire at the legislature's failure to act to protect members of the LGBTQ community. 2:09:31 PM MIKE COONS testified in opposition to HB 17. He stated his support of SB 140. He referred to the Alaska State Constitution which provides that all persons have natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and that no person should be denied the enjoyment of any civil or political right because of race, color, creed, or status of national origin. He noted that sexual orientation and gender identity or expression had been added. He suggested that there exists the option to amend the constitution. 2:12:03 PM JAMIE YOU testified in support of HB 17. He shared his status as a transgender man. He shared his joy at his experience of social acceptance and support. He noted that there existed federal legislation pending that would expand constitutional protections to include those for gender identity and sexual orientation. He urged the passage of HB 17. 2:14:08 PM DR. MAUREEN LONGWORTH testified in support of HB 17. She stated that she had been a physician in Alaska for more than 30 years, and that her opinions were informed by medical training and education. She stated that she had studied the ambiguity of gender while in medical school. She stated that she had provided advice to parents of children with ambiguous gender on how to proceed. She had stated that there had been advancement in the arena of studies pertaining to gender, and that the American Medical Association (AMA) had extensive information available on its website pertaining to discrimination and feelings of inequality which contribute to the increased abuse, [poor] mental health, drug abuse, and suicide among LGBTQ community members and other members of the community when such discrimination is present. She stated that the AMA had stated its support for the equal rights and privileges and freedom of all individuals and that it opposed discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, ethnic origin, national origin, or age. 2:16:49 PM KATIE BOTZ testified in opposition to HB 17. She stated her strong opposition to the bill. She stated that previous testifiers had raised religion in their testimony and offered that one is either a man or a woman. She stated that passage of HB 17 would permit individuals to enter bathrooms or other areas and sexually assault other people. 2:18:33 PM DICK FARRIS testified in support of HB 17. He characterized the bill as a positive one and those who discriminate or have discriminatory thoughts to be negative. 2:19:09 PM AMY RUSSELL testified in support of HB 17. She stated that she was testifying in support of civil rights and protections for those with different sexuality against discrimination. She urged the committee to support the bill. 2:20:31 PM SUSAN MCGLOIN testified in support of HB 17. She stated that she was a registered nurse and had worked in many locations in Alaska for over 40 years. She stated that she had cared for individuals who had been brutally attacked due to sexual choices and that real harm exists. She stated that there exist many military bases and diverse communities and that extreme discrimination exits. She urged the passage of HB 17. 2:22:49 PM CHAIR CLAMAN, after ascertaining there was no one else who wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 17. CHAIR CLAMAN announced that HB 17 was held over.