Articles tagged with: Alaska Family Council
Bent Alaska reader Christina Logan asked us to share this alert. If you have complaints about being unable to vote, contact the Municipal Clerk’s office (info given below). If you are support an independent investigation into the election irregularities, write to the people included in Christina’s alert.
It’s official: the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative will appear on ballot for the April 3, 2012 Anchorage municipal election. One Anchorage, the group spearheading the initiative, received an email yesterday addressed to One Anchorage campaign chairs Arliss Sturgulewski and Gov. Tony Knowles.
James Crump came to Alaska to find himself, and stayed in Alaska to share himself with us. His death on June 25 at Anchorage’s Pride parade was a blow not only to his family & friends, but also to our whole community. But just what is our community — and where do we go from here?
Hate crimes: They can happey anytime, anywhere.Today the Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing testimony on Senate Bill 11, the the Alaska Hate Crimes Act. In spite of the fact that the bill addresses hate crimes based on a number of personal characteristics, the factually incorrect “action alert” sent by Jim Minnery of Alaska Family Council to his supporters yesterday focused exclusively on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Editor’s note: Today the Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on Senate Bill 11, the the Alaska Hate Crimes Bill, “An Act relating to the commission of a crime when the defendant directed the conduct constituting the crime at the victim based on the victim’s race, sex, color, creed, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, ancestry, or national origin” [click for full text]. We posted previously about SB11 on February 15. Testimony will be heard at 1:30 PM today in Juneau, BELTZ 105 (TSBldg) and by teleconference through your local legislative information office. Please testify or write to members of the Judiciary committee.
Today’s hearing has been the topic of an action alert by the national anti-LGBT Family Policy Council (“action” arm of the Family Research Council). The local Alaska Action Council, “action” arm of the equally anti-LGBT Alaska Family Council, has also sent out an action alert, authored by AFC president Jim Minnery. John Aronno of the Alaska Commons takes it apart. Thanks, John!
Jim Minnery v. reality… again
I know, it doesn’t take much. In the past year, the head of the Alaska Family Council (which works against both Alaskans and families) has taken on topics ranging from Planned Parenthood to public education to the Girl Scouts of America. But nothing seems to get his soul patch flaring like “the gay.”
His latest manufactured controversy, sent out today through his “Alaska Family Action Alert” email blast, surrounds Alaska Senate Bill 11; a piece of legislation aimed at adding sexual orientation and gender identity to our state’s existing hate crimes policy, sponsored by Democratic Senators Bettye Davis, Hollis French, and Johnny Ellis. Tomorrow afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee will take on the topic, so naturally Minnery is encouraging his network to flood the committee members’ inboxes and answering machines, and, as per usual, is supplying them with talking points that must have been grown in a special, air tight lab, where there was no possible exposure to that pesky pollutant we call reality.
Let’s take a look at what our state Senators have no doubt been hearing, ad nauseum, these past few days:
Claim 1: SB11 Is Unnecessary. All violent crimes are hate crimes and it’s already against the law to commit a violent attack against another person or his/her property. However, “hate crimes” take the law one step further, adding a separate penalty for the thoughts that allegedly motivated the action.
All violent crimes are hateful. But that is entirely different from each individual offense qualifying as a “hate crime,” defined – at the federal level – in the Hate Crimes Statistics Act as “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, including where appropriate the crimes of murder, non-negligent manslaughter; forcible rape; aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation; arson; and destruction, damage or vandalism of property.”
The plain truth is that most violent crimes are ambivalent, in respect to the victims. The “step further” that Minnery is so offended by only applied, in 2009, to just under .005% of all violent crimes in the United States, being that they were carried out in reaction to specific characteristics of the individual they were inflicted upon. Within that sliver of a percentage point, 18.5% resulted from sexual orientation bias. Meaning that people targeted people for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or even straight.
Does Jim Minnery and the Alaska Family Council believe that this is an acceptable number? That we shouldn’t single out individuals that enact violent crimes against people specifically because of their gender identity or sexual orientation? This is not a free speech issue, as he is attempting to frame it. This is an “acting violently” issue.
Or maybe he’s just feeling all soap-boxy because he already has his protection. The 19.7 percent of hate crimes in 2009 which resulted from religious bias – 1.5% higher than sexual orientation and gender identity offenses – are already protected.
(Someone wants to have their sky cake and eat it too.)
Claim 2: SB11 Would make people unequal under the law. A person who assaults a homosexual will be given a harsher penalty than if that same assault was perpetrated on, for example, an elderly person. This creates a two-tiered justice system with second-class victims. All human life should be valued the same regardless of a person’s race, religion, national origin, etc.
This goes back to the paper thin “special rights” argument that permeated the Assembly Chambers in the Loussac Library during the Summer of Hate surrounding AO-64. Minnery is essentially lobbying for a “fair tax” judicial approach; one uniform prescription for all violent crimes. But, just as stealing a can of soda from a grocery store is different from stealing a delivery truck carrying palettes of soda cans, so is the case with a random violent act versus one motivated by personal prejudice.
As explained by former Supreme Court Justice William Renquist, in the unanimous 1993 decision regarding Wisconsin v. Mitchell, penalty-enhancement hate crime laws exist because hate crimes are ”thought to inflict greater individual and societal harm…. bias-motivated crimes are more likely to provoke retaliatory crimes, inflict distinct emotional harms on their victims, and incite community unrest.”
What the Alaska Family Council works tirelessly to fail to understand is that random acts of violence are just that: random. And, because of that, they are largely isolated. How does one exact revenge randomly? Mostly, they don’t. There is no explicit direction for the anger to go. Whereas, with hate crimes, we tend to see a really, really bad snowball effect; “the Other.” The manufactured message that wires us with a need to protect ourselves from that other person with those other beliefs with that other skin tone or that other accent, and all these attributes that differ in nature from what we recognize as familiar are inherently nefarious in nature. We should not find common ground, but instead lock the door.
Unfortunately, “the Other” is how the Alaska Family Council frames virtually every debate it puts forth, and it works against a civil society rather than towards one.
Claim 3: SB11 Paves the way for religious persecution. Virtually everywhere “hate crimes” laws have passed, arrests for speech have followed. In Sweden, Canada and Great Britain “hate crimes” laws have been used to prosecute Christians speaking their disapproval of homosexual behavior, posing a serious threat to religious liberty and free speech.
So, what’s behind the bumper sticker allegation that “hate crimes” legislation universally leads to an assault on free speech? Minnery warns that the current legislation on the table will “muzzle” Christians, and cites Sweden, Canada, and Great Britain as evidence of that; invoking the ubiquitous far-right “We’re America, not Europe!” mantra.
Key differences, however, separate the condition of free speech in those countries from the US, actually agreeing with their point, but not in a way that they would necessarily endorse.
Britain is in flux; it’s constitution is based on the precedent of law; there is no backbone document akin to our founding documents. Thus, there are neither initial restrictions or protections regarding free speech and expression. The UK is fairly obviously used, by Minnery, not in substance, but in rhetoric; following the same exhaustive dialog we heard in the health care debate which framed European countries (which Canada found itself interwoven into, because of their relationship to the crown, I guess?) very much as “the Other”.
On one hand, there is America. On the other, there is everyone else. And they have the Muslims.
Canada, in contrast, has “Hate Propaganda” laws, which prohibit the expression of hatred for certain protected groups. That is a far cry from what Minnery is arguing against; the action of anger against certain protected groups, including religious groups.
In fairness, Minnery, and his ilk, have chronic problems with linking words with their consequences.
Sweden, in 2002, approved a constitutional amendment that sought to protect groups from “unfavorable speech,” winning them my personal award-of-the-century for “Ambiguous to a Fault.” In the United States, we’ve kept up a passionate argument for 235 years over what “general welfare of the public” means. And Sweden somehow thought that “unfavorable speech” would suffice, criminalizing not only actual threats of violence, but also “expressed disdain.”
Honestly, “unfavorable speech with expressed disdain” sounds like how NPR would describe the crap that comes out of Dr. Laura’s face. Not exactly a rock solid foundation for the basis of law.
The truth is that Sweden doesn’t have freedom of speech like we are afforded (at least as it pertains to this issue). Their idea of free expression is not even in the same ballpark.
Specifically, in the case of Sweden, Minnery warns readers about Pastor Ake Green, who was arrested for delivering a clearly anti-gay sermon in 2003. And if you live in Alaska and occasionally go outdoors or turn on a television, you’ve heard it before: Genesis, Deuteronomy, cancer on society, abnormal, perverse, will lead to disaster and the spread of aids, blah blah blah. It’s been carbon copied and put on display across America one hundred times over, including in Jim Minnery’s emails, Jerry Prevo’s weekly tangents, and Dan Fagan’s radio show (now only available in scarred memories). Last I checked, we haven’t made any arrests. Nor should we. The Westboro Baptist Church (I linked their Wiki page, because I’m not throwing any traffic their way if I can help it) gets to bounce around the map like deranged gummy bears with inarticulate chips on their shoulders. By the same token, our own reality deficient, eccentric characters should be afforded the same rights.
That doesn’t mean we should accept the message as credible; it’s laughable. But they should get to scream down the same vacant hallway that houses Sarah Palin’s presidential aspirations.
Back in the real world where Jim Minnery’s emails can’t hurt you, Green was acquitted by the Swedish Supreme Court, which cited Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, stressing the international right to freedom of expression (anyone want to guess what nation Europe got that idea from?).
More smoke and mirrors to justify an irrational adversity to equal protection under the law from the Alaska Family Council, which again I will point out has nothing to do with working towards the betterment of Alaska or her families.
The good news is that Jim Minnery and the openly closed-minded organization that pays him a lot of money to concoct controversies “in His name!” is not ultimately responsible for making sure SB11 passes. He is only in charge of orchestrating an online and telephonic misrepresentation of Alaska.
About an hour ago, I was talking to a friend of mine – himself a full catalog of standing up against adversity – who reminded me that, at the end of the day, we are all confronted with a simple, albeit blunt, choice: Be a friend or be a dick. Either we make tough choices to stand up and fight for community, or we allow ourselves and those we care about to get screwed, bullied, and ignored; left to fend for themselves. Or we can stand up and say a lot more than “It gets better.”
We can demand that it does.
Friday, at 1:30pm, the Senate Judiciary Committee will address SB11. They’re going to hear from the Alaska Family Council. I implore you to do your part in ensuring that they also hear from the Rational Alaska Community, and I ask you to speak up in defense of our community; our Alaska.
Clicky clicky. And kindly pass the word.
Dave Bronson, a prominent member of the anti-LGBTQ organization Alaska Family Council, is challenging incumbent Elvi Gray-Jackson for her seat on the Anchorage Assembly.
The election is finally over. Or… not quite. With 432 out of 438 precincts reporting, the front-runner in the hotly contested U.S. Senate race is “Write-in Votes” with 41.0% of the vote — nearly 7 points ahead of Tea Party-leaning Republican candidate Joe Miller (34.2%). Democratic candidate Scott McAdams, who consistently polled with the best “favorables” — i.e., people liked him better than either Murkowski or Miller — nonetheless drew only 23.74% of the vote counted so far.
Voters received a flyer today from the anti-gay Alaska Family Action with a last minute attack against state Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe, because she agreed with the majority on several abortion and gay rights decisions that went against the agenda of the far right. Claire Rosston, an Anchorage attorney, wrote to Bent Alaska about the attack on Justice Fabe:
I am writing to bring to your attention an issue of concern to your readers. Outside special interests have launched an unfair last-minute attack on Justice Dana Fabe in an effort to try to control Alaska’s judiciary. Today, voters across Alaska received a mailer campaigning against the retention of Justice Fabe. One of the many misleading statements made in the mailer is that Justice Fabe ordered “taxpayer subsidies for same-sex partners.” In fact, Justice Fabe joined the unanimous decision of ACLU v. State, which ruled that government employees are entitled to equal compensation and benefits regardless of their sexual preference. As a result of this decision, workers who are employed by the state or a municipality and who are in committed relationships with a same sex domestic partner are eligible to receive the same employment benefits for their domestic partners that a married employee receives for a spouse.
Justice Fabe currently chairs the Alaska Supreme Court’s Fairness, Diversity and Equality Committee, which seeks to ensure that the promise of “justice for all” is a reality for all Alaskans.
The attack on Justice Fabe is led by Alaska Family Action, Inc., whose top contributor is Citizen Link, a Colorado-based “family advocacy” organization. Another organization that has been identified as a top contributor is the American Family Association, a Mississippi-based “pro-family” organization. Alaska Family Action launched its attack just two weeks before the election–no doubt designed to ensure that Justice Fabe has little time to respond or correct the record.
Citizen Link is the activist arm of Focus on the Family. Likewise, Alaska Family Action is the activist arm of the Alaska Family Council, both run by Jim Minnery whose cousin Tom Minnery is senior vice president of Focus on the Family, a top outside contributor to the Alaska anti-gay lobby.
An editorial spat has broken out in the pages of the Anchorage and Fairbanks newspapers about Justice Fabe and the importance of a non-partisan judiciary. Alex Bryner, a former state supreme court justice, summed up the issue:
They do not attack her for doing her job poorly; they attack her for disobeying their particular agenda… Alaska’s voters must resist this threat by casting informed votes based on the merits of Justice Fabe’s history of judicial performance, not on her willingness to obey pressures exerted by vested interests funded outside Alaska.
To learn more about Justice Fabe, visit www.yesonfabe.com.
ACTION: Anchorage Mayor appoints homophobe to school commission during LGBT Pride Month – Contact the Assembly
UPDATE: The Assembly heard our concerns and voted on June 22 to postpone Bronson’s appointment indefinitely! Happy Pride Week to all.
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What was he thinking?! Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan appointed rabidly anti-gay Dave Bronson, founder and president of the Alaska Family Council and long time member of Anchorage Baptist Temple, to sit on the School Budget Advisory Commission – and he tried to sneak Bronson through the Assembly confirmation vote at last night’s meeting, while progressive Assembly member and PrideFest 2010 grand marshal Elvi Gray-Jackson is out of town.
Bronson is the guy who threatened then-Assembly Chair Debbie Ossiander last summer, saying the AFC would blame her personally for the failure to stop the gays if Ordinance 64 passed. He even highlights his anti-gay activities in his resume, reaching back to his role in the 1994 repeal of the previous equal rights ordinance to show why he thinks he should be on the School Budget Commission.
As for his finance background – none. His education degree – zip. His kids’ experience with the Anchorage school district – nope, they were home schooled. What are his qualifications? According to the resume he submitted for the school position, he leads a bible ministry, is a retired pilot, and has spent the past two decades being a professional homophobe.
Last night, the Assembly voted 6-4 to postpone the confirmation vote until their next meeting, on Tuesday June 22, when all members will be present. Yes, that’s right, they might confirm this hater four days before Alaska’s PrideFest!
Also contact Mayor Sullivan and ask that he withdraw the appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org and (907) 343-7100.
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Addendum, 6 Feb 2011: The resume submitted Bronson submitted for the position is no longer available on the Municipality of Anchorage website. However, a post at The Mudflats from 8 Jun 2010 lists the “qualifications” he presented in his resume:
- Member of the Anchorage Baptist Temple since 1992
- Founding board member and current Chairman of the Board of the Alaska Family Council
- Volunteer Coordinator for the Repeal of the Homosexual Ordinance, Municipality of Anchorage 1994
- Officer District 30, Republican Party of Alaska
- Leader AWANA Children’s Bible Ministry
- With Alaska Family Council helped lead the effort against MOA O-64 [the 2009 Anchorage equal rights ordinance]
- With Alaska Family Action, helped lead Alaskans for Parental Rights parental notification petition drive
Bent Alaska and the UA student, staff and faculty group asking the Board of Regents to add sexual orientation to the UA non-discrimination policy both got an unusual Facebook friend request the day after Thanksgiving: from Dave Bronson, of the anti-gay Alaska Family Council.
Why did Bronson ask to friend us three days before the regents meeting at UAA, when it was already public knowledge that the students would make their request again? Did he hope we wouldn’t notice that he’s an employee of the Family Council? Was he that desperate to know what else we might have planned?
Earlier in the week, the Alaska Family Council – a political lobby group unrelated to the university – sent an email blast titled “Don’t Let UA Regents Be Bullied By Homosexual Activists,” denouncing the students who are asking for the policy change (and who mostly happen to be heterosexual):
We have learned that activists in the homosexual movement are attempting to convince the University of Alaska Board of Regents to change the university non-discrimination policy so as to give special recognition to homosexuals. If successful, individuals engaging in homosexual behavior will be afforded the same recognition as members of racial and ethnic minorities.
Of course we want the same recognition as other minority groups. And if we’re asking for the same rights, then they aren’t special rights, they’re equal rights.
The Family Council told their members to email each of the 11 regents and pressure them to reject the students’ request.
Jessi Angelette, a UAF student leading the effort, did testify at the meeting, saying in part:
I am here today before you once again to urge you to amend the current non-discrimination policy and to add it to the next meeting’s agenda…
The Alaska Family Council has sent out an email stating that you the Regents are being bullied by homosexual extremists. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. We are a representation of the students you have sworn an oath to educate and protect. There are thousands of students who call the campuses home while trying to attain their education. Isn’t it their right to feel protected from being harassed and discriminated against based on their orientation or their perceived orientation where they call home?
After doing research of other college and university non-discrimination policies, we have found that many have sexual orientation included in their polices and some of the schools are in states that do not have laws protecting LBGT citizens, such as Alabama. We have also looked at Tier 4 in the school rankings where UAF is ranked and have found only 1/6 of the schools do not have sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy. These schools have shown that even though their cities and states may not have laws to protect the LBGT citizens, they have taken it upon themselves to insure the safety of their students.
UAA students John and Heather Aronno also support the policy change. In The Bully on Campus at UAA, they quote the Family Council argument that this policy would limit their freedom to insult us, then respond to Jim Minnery, who signed the email:
…Have you been to UAA Jim? The right-to-life club hands out fliers with a revolver aimed at a fetus. We’re not in any danger zone that threatens the suppression of free speech, nor is anyone impeding the free exercise of religion… Unless it’s hate speech. You’re the one asking people who are otherwise in no way affiliated with UAA to flood board member inboxes and voicemail, and if that doesn’t work, barge into a board meeting and scream bloody murder. Again.
The students also note that the Council email links to a faux-college video called “Indoctrinate U: Our Education, Their Politics” and the page only lists past screenings, not the upcoming ones (to avoid protests?) Don’t be surprised if it shows in Anchorage next year.
So, which group do you think the UA Regents should give priority: UA students and staff, or an unrelated political lobby trying to force their religious bigotry on our public university?
Please take a moment and contact the UA Regents in favor of the student request. If you are a current or former UA student, staff or faculty member, please mention your connection to the university.
And if you moderate a GLBT Alaska Facebook page, please check profiles before you accept friend requests. You never know who will want to be your “friend.”