Anchorage ‘bathroom bill’ will appear on the April 2018 ballot

An Anchorage version of a "bathroom bill" requiring people to use bathrooms or locker rooms based on the gender on their birth certificates will officially appear on the April 2018 city ballot, marking the next stage of what's shaping up to be an intense political fight.

In a statement Thursday morning, Deputy City Clerk Amanda Moser said the Anchorage clerk's office certified the signatures of 6,200 qualified voters, more than enough to make the ballot. Supporters submitted the signatures last week.

On the city ballot, the initiative will appear under the title "Regulating Access to Facilities Such as Locker Rooms and Bathrooms on the Basis of Sex at Birth, Rather Than Gender Identity," according to Moser. Similar legislation is being debated elsewhere, including the Texas Legislature.

A 2-year-old Anchorage law bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations, which includes bathrooms or locker rooms in places open to the general public.

Jim Minnery, executive director of Alaska Family Action, and other supporters say businesses and churches, not the government, should be allowed to decide whether transgender people can use the bathroom or locker room that corresponds with their gender identity.

Opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, say the initiative is discriminatory and unnecessary. The city attorney has warned of the potential legal and constitutional ramifications if the measure passes.

Mayor Ethan Berkowitz released a statement Tuesday morning saying he opposed the measure.

"It is divisive and distracting at a time when we should be united and focused on the issues that impact Anchorage every day – making sure we have good jobs and a growing economy, that our neighborhoods are safe, and we continue to reduce the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in our community," Berkowitz said in the statement.

Devin Kelly

Devin Kelly was an ADN staff reporter.