AP NEWS

Mayor’s veto of anti-discrimination protections stands

March 13, 2019

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Officials of Alaska’s second-largest city have agreed to a cooling-off period before discussing next steps for a vetoed local law that would have given sweeping equal rights protections to people in the LGBTQ community.

The Fairbanks City Council did not muster enough votes Monday to overturn Mayor Jim Matherly’s veto of the ordinance that would have extended anti-discrimination protections for employment, housing and public accommodations, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

The measure also would have provided a way for people to challenge in court the practices they believe are discriminatory.

Overriding the veto required five votes from the six-person council. The council had passed the original ordinance on a 4-2 vote.

In vetoing the measure earlier this month, Matherly said he wanted to put the issue to voters.

The council decided Monday to pause discussion on the matter following some heated exchanges between members. The council faces a July deadline for putting anything on an October ballot.

“This is very difficult for people. I don’t want to do anything public for a couple of months,” said Kathryn Ottersten, the councilwoman who had sponsored the original ordinance. “I want people to have a moment to heal with loved ones.”

Some council members and meeting attendees in support of the law argued that putting the matter to a public vote would not be the right course of action.

“I don’t think minorities that are being discriminated against would have a fair shake at a public vote,” Councilwoman Valerie Therrien said.

Had the mayor not vetoed the ordinance, residents would have likely sought a referendum to overturn it, Councilman Jerry Cleworth said. The measure had some good components, he said, but there were things he could not support.

“I recommend we all do some soul searching and determine what it would take to sign off on it,” Cleworth said.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com