Proposition 1 is discriminatory and would hurt Alaska tourism

Alaska is a state unlike any other, and my family is incredibly fortunate to call Alaska home. Through our companies, K2 Aviation and Rust's Flying Service, we are able to connect guests from around the world with Alaska's amazing wilderness and natural wonders.

And while people come from around the world to climb Denali, fly-in to view bears, catch a big fish or simply take it all in, it is Alaska's hospitable spirit and friendly people that keep them coming back.

That is why as a business owner and a longtime member of the tourism industry, I can't stay silent in the face of Proposition 1, a dangerous initiative that would harm our economy by making Anchorage a place known for discrimination against transgender people.

So I'm standing with fellow business leaders in launching Anchorage Business Leaders Against Proposition 1 — a coalition committed to keeping Anchorage open for business to everyone. As a business that has been serving Anchorage since 1963, we are very committed to defeating Proposition 1. My company is proud to stand alongside iconic business voices — from the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce to Visit Anchorage — in taking a stand against Proposition 1.

Tourism and hospitality are the backbone of the Alaska economy, and for me, there's no doubt that Proposition 1 would negatively impact these vital industries and damage Anchorage's brand on the national stage. The threat to our economy is very real: After North Carolina passed discriminatory laws against transgender individuals, local businesses lost billions of dollars as organizations canceled conferences and events. North Carolina lost hundreds of jobs as companies canceled plans to open headquarters in that state. Simply put, discrimination is wrong and isn't good for business.

One key difference between North Carolina and Alaska, of course, is that Alaska is trying to climb out of a multiyear recession. This is the worst possible time to pass an anti-business initiative like Proposition 1 that will discourage visitors impacting businesses and the jobs we can offer.

But for me, this even more of a heartfelt and personal issue. My daughter Lillian is transgender – and if Proposition 1 passes, it sends a clear message that she is not welcome in the city our family calls home and this proposition will deny her protection against discrimination.

I love my family and I am proud to be an Alaskan. I believe that Proposition 1 harms both by marginalizing our transgender friends, not supporting the diversity that Alaskans value, and threatening the future growth of the Anchorage economy.

Businesses must stand together to defeat Proposition 1 and fight for the open and inclusive Anchorage we believe in. Join me in growing the Anchorage Business Leaders Against Proposition 1 coalition today. For the sake of our families, our businesses and the city we love, we all must work together to stop Proposition 1 in the municipal election this April.

Suzanne Rust is a co-owner of Rust's Flying Service, which operates the largest and oldest air taxi business at Lake Hood Seaplane Base and K2 Aviation in Talkeetna.

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