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Prop 5: Both Alaska U.S. senators vote for Anchorage gay rights initiative

Amanda Coyne
Stephen Nowers illustration

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski told Alaska Dispatch that she voted Proposition 5, the Anchorage municipal ballot initiative that would add sexual identity to the municipal code as a class that is protected against discrimination.

"This is not the first time this issue has come up here in Anchorage," she said on Tuesday, a few hours before the polls close. "I think this is overdue and we make sure that within this community that there’s no discrimination and there’s tolerance for any discrimination at all."

Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, also from Anchorage, was an early, vocal supporter of the initiative. In February, he joined former Anchorage mayors Tony Knowles, Rick Mystrom, Jack Roderick, and Matt Claman in announcing his support. He also voted for the measure, his spokesperson said. 

Murkowski, a Republican, has voted before for gay rights. In 2010, she was only one of eight Republican senators to vote for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the federal policy of banning gay and lesbian service members from serving openly in the military.

Her vote on DADT came on the heels of her historic write-in victory in Alaska's U.S. Senate race, burnishing her reputation as a moderate Republican -- something of a dying breed in the U.S. body politic.

Begich has been a supporter of Democratic challenger for mayor Paul Honeman. Murkowski, however, declined to say who she voted for in the mayoral contest also under way in Anchorage's municipal election. She called Proposition 5 vote was a larger, statewide issue. She did add, however, that she voted proudly for school bonds and emergency preparedness bonds. 

Contact Amanda Coyne at amanda(at)alaskadispatch.com