KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska city council approved a draft ordinance to protect equal rights for residents covering a range of personal, cultural and social circumstances.
The first reading of an equal rights ordinance that passed last Thursday would prohibit discrimination based on factors including ethnicity, national origin, religion and marital status, The Ketchikan Daily News reported Tuesday.
The ordinance would also protect citizens from discrimination stemming from disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, pregnancy and parenthood.
Ketchikan Mayor Bob Sivertsen said the ordinance would be a “living document” that can be amended and updated as new information arises.
City Manager Karl Amylon and City Attorney Mitch Seaver will be asked to assess the proposal, Sivertsen said.
Council Member Janalee Gage listed various forms of discrimination faced by citizens that the ordinance aims to prevent, including actions by businesses toward consumers such as refusing service based on personal attributes or life situations.
As examples she cited banks changing a primary account holder from a woman to a man without consent or trainee social workers refusing to counsel gay clients.
Council Member Dick Coose was the lone dissenting vote, saying he wanted to implement changes in the proposal’s wording to “give equal rights and protection to both individuals and businesses.”
The proposed ordinance is scheduled for a second reading at a council meeting July 16.
Some Alaska cities and boroughs have laws against discrimination based on gender expression or sexual orientation, but the state does not.
The Ketchikan ordinance comes a month after up to 200 people attended a rally to support LGBTQ rights when a florist declined to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding.
Tommy Varela and a friend organized the June 5 rally after Varela’s mother was informed Heavenly Creations florist in Ketchikan would not provide flowers for his wedding ceremony when the company learned there were two grooms.