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Republican promises retaliation for pro-gay ruling

Republican promises retaliation for pro-gay ruling

An Alaska Republican lawmaker said that he plans to draft a constitutional amendment to counter last week's Alaska supreme court decision to grant public employee benefits to gay couples. State senator Fred Dyson said the legislation would exempt the state from having to extend the rights and benefits currently given to married couples to "any other union, partnership, or legal status."

He cited a 1998 state consitutional amendment approved by Alaska voters that defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Allison Mendel, the lawyer who represented the nine gay couples before the high court, said the issue has nothing to do with defining marriage. "All this is about is equal pay for equal work. It's not about all these philosophical and moral issues that they seem to imply," she said.

Gov. Frank Murkowski, a Republican, plans to bring a constitutional amendment bill to the legislature next session, and Dyson said he will coordinate his efforts with the governor. If lawmakers in both houses approve a bill, any change to the constitution would also have to be approved by voters.

The state supreme court unanimously ruled Friday that denying same-sex couples the same public employee benefits as married couples--life and health insurance, plus retirement and death benefits--violates the Alaska constitution's equal-protection clause. (AP)

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