Anchorage, Alaska, voters have turned back a ballot measure that would have restricted transgender people’s access to restrooms, locker rooms, and “intimate facilities.”
Voters rejected Proposition 1 by a final vote of 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent, according to a count posted by the Anchorage municipal clerk Friday. There were over 77,000 votes cast.
The margin held since the first vote count was released early late Tuesday. In the first election in which residents voted by mail, “about 53 percent of the 50,000 ballots counted Tuesday night were ‘no’ votes on Prop. 1, compared to 46 percent in favor,” the Anchorage Daily News reported at the time. “But at least an additional 16,000 ballots cast have been received by elections officials and not yet counted.” Ballots had to be postmarked by Tuesday.
Proposition 1 would have carved out an exception to an ordinance passed by the Anchorage Assembly in 2015 that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It would have prevented trans people from using the public restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities that correspond with their gender identity.
Alaska Family Action, the backer of Prop. 1, contended that allowing transgender people to use the facilities matching their gender identity endangered women, even though there are no documented instances of a trans person or someone posing as trans attacking someone in this environment — which would still be a crime, in any case. And forcing trans people to use the facilities for the gender they were assigned at birth poses a threat to them.
Officials with Fair Anchorage, which opposed the measure, were feeling hopeful late Tuesday. “The Anchorage transgender community has stepped up and led this campaign in such an amazing, powerful way,” campaign manager Kati Ward told the Daily News. “While we know we don't have all the results tonight, we’re cautiously optimistic.”
In a prepared statement, Human Rights Campaign national field director Marty Rouse added, “We are encouraged by the results of the first 50,000 votes, representing a quarter of all of Anchorage registered voters, and are optimistic that this discriminatory proposition will be defeated as the remainder of mail-in ballots continue to be counted. HRC was proud to work on the ground alongside our Fair Anchorage coalition partners, leading transgender voices in Anchorage, and other Equality Voters. We are also thankful for the significant faith and business leaders who have spoken out against this dangerous, anti-transgender ballot measure.”
Fair Anchorage outspent Prop. 1 proponents $800,000 to $123,000, according to the Daily News. Prop. 1 was also opposed by large businesses, such as BP and Wells Fargo. The vote is a turnaround from six years ago, when Anchorage residents voted against adding LGBT protections to city law, ThinkProgress notes. It’s also far different from the result in Houston in 2015, when voters repealed the LGBT-inclusive Houston Equal Rights Ordinance after a campaign in which opponents of the measure ran numerous ads portraying trans people as predators.
Several LGBT groups released celebratory statements Friday evening after the news of the final count. “The voters of Anchorage have clearly seen this proposition for what it was — a direct attack on the civil liberties of city residents," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "It seems every week makes it clearer that such discriminatory measures are opposed by all but the most fringe elements of our society."
“In a truly historic election, Anchorage voters refused to succumb to hate and bigotry by rejecting this discriminatory, anti-transgender ballot measure,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “Community leaders, businesses, faith leaders, and public officials all spoke out in support of equality. Together, we sent a powerful message that Anchorage is a welcoming and inclusive city for all — including transgender people. HRC was proud to work on the ground alongside Anchorage’s brave transgender community and the Fair Anchorage campaign to expose the opposition’s shameful fearmongering and defeat this discriminatory proposition.”
“Anchorage’s transgender community worked tirelessly with the city’s faith and business leaders and local and national organizers, to build a powerful coalition of love and support, and to combat the fearmongering tactics of anti-LGBTQ activists to defeat this dangerous anti-trans ballot measure,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. “Proposition 1 was exposed as a clear attack on transgender people and unequivocally rejected by voters who put their love of their neighbors and the safety of their entire community above hate.”
“This historic win for equality is a testament to the fair-minded majority of voters in Anchorage and the extraordinary voter turnout efforts by Fair Anchorage, Alaskans Together for Equality, and the many volunteers on the ground," said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of the Equality Federation. "All Americans, including transgender people and their families, should have the opportunity to be themselves without fear of discrimination.”
“While we should all celebrate today with Anchorage, we know our work in Alaska is not done," said Elias Rojas, board president for Alaskans Together for Equality. "Working side by side with partners like the Equality Federation, we will all look forward to the day when every LGBTQ Alaskan — and every LGBTQ visitor to Alaska -- enjoys the protections that citizens of Anchorage affirmed this week.”
Click through for photos of anti-Prop. 1 activists campaigning and then celebrating the initial vote count Tuesday night.
At left: Lillian Lennon with Fair Anchorage
The results are in and and Proposition 1 appears to be defeated.
Lillian Lennon talks to a reporter.
A victory party.
Celebrating a victory.
Lillian Lennon celebrates with a friend.
All photos by Russ Reno.