I have watched with shock the Anchorage controversy over the "bathroom initiative" that's to be voted on as Proposition 1 on the municipal ballot.
Prop. 1 raises the ugly issue of discrimination, something that should be totally unacceptable.
Alaska's constitution is clear in its emphasis on political, civil and religious liberty and on the individual rights of all Alaskans. Its preamble states:
We the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land, in order to secure and transmit to succeeding generations our heritage of political, civil, and religious liberty within the United States, do ordain and establish this constitution for the State of Alaska.
This broad focus is brought to the individual level right in the first section of the constitution:
This constitution is dedicated to the principles … that all persons are equal and entitled to equal rights, opportunities and protection under the law.
What does all that mean in terms of who can use which public bathrooms?
Clearly if all persons have equal rights, equal opportunities and equal protection under the constitution, then you may not discriminate against any group or any type of individual.
Beyond that, the constitution also protects individuals' right to privacy:
The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall be not be infringed.
This, of course, applies to all – the proponents of Prop. 1 as well as their intended targets.
Supporters of Prop. 1 have said over and over that they "feel uncomfortable and unsafe" about certain people. That's the traditional excuse for discrimination of racial and other types. Their proposed change in municipal law is not based on a single incident or critical problem in Anchorage.
I find it preposterous that at a time when we are facing real problems — such as the opioid crisis, and domestic violence and sexual abuse — we are made to focus on this totally unnecessary potty bill.
I am grateful, however, that most of Anchorage's business, civic and religious leaders have publicly condemned the Prop. 1 initiative and have solidly called for a "no" vote. It gives me great confidence for our future,
So let's defeat this latest vestige of attempted discrimination and divisiveness. Let us then go on to unify our community and together resolve the real problems that face Anchorage.
If you, as an Alaskan, agree with Alaska's fundamental constitutional principles – please vote "no" on Proposition 1.
Vic Fischer served in Alaska's territorial Legislature and its state Senate, and was a delegate to the 1955 Alaska Constitutional Convention.