OPINION: Don’t be misled — I fought for the LGBTQ community

As the attorney general for the state of Alaska, I don’t dictate policy decisions to state entities. My duty to the various state departments, agencies, boards and commissions is simply to provide legal advice on the law. I don’t get to provide advice based on what the law could or should be; my duty is to provide advice based on what the law is. It is up to those departments, agencies, boards and commissions to decide how to act based on the advice the Department of Law provides.

As the state attorney general, I also don’t get to decide what the law is. That is up to the Alaska Legislature, Congress and the state and federal courts that interpret that law when questions arise. Although many local and municipal ordinances do provide protections based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity (for example, Anchorage, Sitka and Juneau), state law currently does not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected classes (i.e. race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability). In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Bostock v. Clayton County, extended nationwide protections to the LGBTQ community in Title VII employment matters. So in Alaska, an employee in the LGBTQ community has protection at work from discrimination because of this federal ruling.

It is the state Legislature that has the authority to pass legislation providing protections outside the work context. It has not done so. Thus, contrary to what a recent Anchorage Daily News article suggested, I do not have the authority to strip away protections that do not currently exist under Alaska law. That article, “Alaska drops policy banning discrimination against LGBTQ individuals,” seemed to imply that the legal advice provided to the Alaska State Commission on Human Rights (ASCHR) was politically motivated; however, nothing could be further from the truth. The article pointed to alleged actions I have taken in my personal life as proof that my actions as the attorney general are politically motivated, but it conveniently ignored the fact that I spent a couple of years before I joined the Department of Law working with LGBTQ leadership in Alaska to draft legislation that would provide statewide protections against discrimination of the LGBTQ community. The effort, led by delegates from the largest churches in Alaska and LGBTQ leaders, was based on the desire to treat everyone with dignity and respect no matter their background or beliefs. The multiyear project sought to balance the religious liberties of individuals, the rights of churches for self-determination and the liberties of the LGBTQ community. I characterized our efforts in 2017 with these words:

“We believe that all individuals are created equal and should be treated with love, dignity and respect. We believe that each individual has a God-given and constitutional right to believe and act in accordance to those beliefs without intimidation, coercion, or retaliation so long as such actions do not harm the health or safety of others. The only way to truly preserve an individual’s right to believe and act according to those beliefs is to actively protect those same rights for individuals who believe and act differently.”

Alaskans for Fairness presented this request to the Alaska Legislature: “We call on the Alaska Legislature to serve all Alaskans by passing legislation in 2017 that protects the rights of our LGBTQ community while also protecting the religious freedoms of individuals, families and faith groups. We call on all Alaskans to rise above the national tendency to draw lines and work together for Fairness for All,” I wrote then.

The effort, if it had been successful, would have resulted in legislation that provided the very same protections for the LGBTQ community that the article claims I was responsible for removing for political reasons. Now that is an inconvenient truth.

As Alaska’s attorney general, I am fully cognizant of my duty of fidelity to the law. The Department of Law takes that duty very seriously. Advice the Department of Law provides to state entities under my leadership will always begin and end with, “what is the law.”


Treg Taylor was appointed as Alaska’s attorney general on Jan. 29, 2021. Before becoming attorney general, he was the deputy attorney general for the Alaska Department of Law overseeing the Civil Division. Prior to 2018, he was senior counsel for ASRC Energy Services, LLC, a subsidiary of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. He lives with his wife, Jodi, in Anchorage and has six children.

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