Gov. Parnell, Choose Respect for All Alaskans
Today is Governor Sean Parnell’s Choose Respect rally against domestic violence, sexual assault and child sexual abuse. It’s an important cause, and members of the LGBT community will be there, some marching with rainbow sashes. But does Parnell respect LGBT Alaskans?
The website for Parnell’s Choose Respect project includes information on the marches, local resources for victims of abuse, and something called the Safe Homes Strong Families proclamation. [The proclamation is in bold, my comments are in italics.]
“The 2010 Public Safety initiative continues our commitment to establish safe homes and build strong families for all Alaskans.”
ALL Alaskans? Since I can personally verify that LGBT people live in Alaska, that means Parnell is committed to promoting safe homes and strong families for LGBT Alaskans.
“This year, we are addressing key elements to end exploitation and harm inflicted upon minors, seniors, and vulnerable adults.”
Gay and especially transgender Alaskans are at high risk for a variety of harms committed against us and we qualify as vulnerable, especially LGBT minors and seniors.
“The initiative proposes tougher punishments for crimes against seniors, harsher punishment for criminals accused of child exploitation, increased investigation of child exploitation cases, and enhanced enforcement for registered sex offenders.”
Parnell is a big fan of harsher punishments for crimes against vulnerable people, so tougher punishments for crimes against LGBT Alaskans is right up his alley! The Alaska Hate Crimes bill (SB 11) is currently stalled in the legislature, but I’m sure it will jump forward and pass quickly when the Governor assures everyone that he supports tougher punishments.
“These efforts, combined with the progress and partnerships we made this last year, draw us closer to shifting the tide against abuse, exploitation, harm, and fear that has gripped our communities.”
LGBT Alaskans know about the harm and fear that grip our community. The fear that we can be fired simply for being gay, the harm caused by public officials when they appoint people who say our very existence should be illegal… Oh, wait. (see below)
“Last year, my administration began a dialogue and awareness effort with the Choose Respect initiative. The Choose Respect initiative included increased funding for shelters,”
Good. In addition to the women and children who flee abusive husbands and need these shelters, some are fleeing abusive partners of the same sex. This should also include increased funding for homeless youth shelters, because abused youth often end up on the streets and LGBT youth are abused and kicked out of their homes at alarming rates.
“… harsher punishment for offenders,”
Again with the ‘harsher punishment’ for crimes against vulnerable Alaskans. He’s really going to love the Alaska Hate Crimes law!
“… increased VPSOs in villages,”
Good to see more funding for the Villages.
“… and hired the state’s first Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator.”
I hope the person Parnell hired for this position has a more realistic understanding of criminal behavior than his recent choice for the panel that nominates state judges. That appointee believes all sex outside of marriage should be a crime. (Really. See below.)
“The Parnell administration will continue to take action to protect the defenseless and establish safe, strong homes. Together, we can make Alaska safer.”
Yes, Gov. Parnell, together we can protect the defenseless gay and transgender young Alaskans who are kicked out of their family homes by unloving parents and out of housing rentals by bigoted landlords simply because they are LGBT. Together we can help to establish safe, strong homes for gay and lesbian couples and their children, with the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples. Together we can choose respect and take action to make Alaska safer for ALL Alaskans. Yes!
Unfortunately, I don’t think he means that.
Last week, the state senate questioned Don Haase, recent president of the anti-gay Eagle Forum and Parnell’s choice for the panel that nominates state judges. Haase kept off his resume his leadership role in the extreme conservative group, but admitted that he thought sex outside of marriage should be illegal, saying, “I think that would be up to the voters… I can see legitimate reasons to push that as a crime.”
(The judicial panel only has three members of the public, and already has one far right member: Sarah Palin appointed Kathleen Tompkins-Miller, wife of tea party Senate candidate Joe Miller, to the council in 2009.)
Let’s put the pieces together on Don Haase – the person Sean Parnell wants to pick our state judges – and LGBT Alaskans: Leader of the Eagle Forum which pushes a strong anti-gay agenda, worked against the effort to allow same sex marriages in Alaska, worked to take away domestic partnership benefits for same sex partners of state employees, worked against hate crimes protections and non-discrimination laws, and clearly does not support even civil unions. So sex outside of marriage is a crime, and gay and lesbian couples must not be allowed to get married, therefore… consensual sex between two adults of the same gender should be illegal.
This is not the way to choose respect for all Alaskans.
Last year, Parnell flew to Colorado on state money to spend the day with Focus on the Family. He told them about his Choose Respect project and other ideas for Alaska. Why? He doesn’t need their approval to start a sexual assault and child abuse prevention program in Alaska. What would a corporation that sells harmful pray-away-the-gay workshops tell the governor of another state about his domestic violence project?
The hate watch site Good As You writes:
“Focus on the Family dedicates much time to keeping same-sex couples away from adoption, foster care, and a whole host of protections that strengthen LGBT families. And of course they work every day to deny a fair shake to gay kids and/or the kids of gay parents… [They] talk only about the kind of ‘strong family environment’ that’s defined by evangelism and heterosexuality.”
This is not the way to choose respect for all Alaskans.
Back on the Governor’s Choose Respect website, Parnell has strong words for Alaska:
“As a society – as Alaskans – we must change our practice of preserving silence. And, we must promote a culture of respect that will not tolerate this conduct.
The first step to prevention is raising awareness.
On March 31st, … I’ll lead a march from the steps of the capitol to raise awareness and call for a cultural shift. A shift towards honor and respect for all Alaskans.
… I am challenging all Alaskans to step up – to march forward into a new day, when Alaskans live with hope and opportunity, rather than fear and despair. Together, we can make a difference.”
He’ll call for a cultural shift towards honor and respect for all Alaskans… WOW. If only he meant that!
As for today’s Choose Respect marches:
“And you can join me at the point of the spear. We are having the second Choose Respect march here in Anchorage and across Alaska on March 31. Last year, 18 communities rallied; this year I set a goal of 40 communities participating. Think about what it means to be a survivor of domestic violence or rape or child abuse. Imagine what it will mean to see hundreds of people marching together to proclaim ‘Enough, already! We support you. You are not alone. You are not to blame.’”
Governor Parnell, please say that to Alaska’s gay and transgender youth who are abused by their families for being queer.
I can imagine what it means – can’t you? – to a young adult standing by himself in downtown Anchorage in late June, his first time at Alaska’s annual LGBT Pride Parade, he came out to his parents and now has to live at the homeless youth shelter, or maybe he hasn’t come out yet because he was beaten by his father for being a ‘sissy’ as a kid and he’s afraid of what his father will do. Or maybe it’s a young women at her first Pride Parade, she was raped by a cousin when he caught her kissing another girl, said if she told anyone then he would tell the girls’ families that they’re dykes. Yes, I can imagine what it would mean to them to see hundreds of people marching together to proclaim “Enough, already! We support you. You are not alone. You are not to blame.”
OK, Gov. Parnell. Put your money where your mouth is. Tell ALL Alaskans who have been abused, including LGBT Alaskans, that you support us and we are not alone. Show all Alaskans, including LGBT Alaskans and those who abuse us, that together we can break the silence and choose respect. Walk the talk: Be a role model for how to choose respect by choosing leaders who respect all Alaskans. Call for a cultural shift towards honor and respect for all Alaskans and encourage the legislature to pass Hate Crimes and non-discrimination bills that include sexual orientation and gender identity. Or start small and proclaim June 2011 as LGBT Pride Month in Alaska. Do it.
Stand at the point of the spear and choose respect for all Alaskans. And mean it.Tags: Sean Parnell