Edging toward equality for all Alaskans

Two events aimed at both education and enjoyment

Members of the gay and lesbian community were heartened at the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in June regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8, but many are still wondering what it means for them. From 7 to 9 p.m., Friday Aug. 2, a celebration and fundraiser will be held at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center after Food Truck Friday. The following day, Aug. 3, at 1 p.m., those interested can join ACLU Alaska’s Interim Executive Director Joshua Decker to discuss the recent Supreme Court decisions and what the future holds for equal rights in Alaska and beyond.

The Friday night event will feature live entertainment, food and drinks, dance music with DJ Manu, a silent auction and information on LGBTQ equality. Performers will include Wendy Byrnes, the Juneau Pride Chorus, Collette Costa, Dan and Kathleen Wayne, Vanessa LaVoce-Kellie, Mike Rafone and more. A no-host bar for patrons of legal drinking age will be tended by The Rendezvous.

The question and answer session with ACLU Alaska will be held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in the parish hall. Decker will focus on what the recent decisions mean for Alaskans and will answer questions from attendees. He will also discuss what steps can or should be taken to achieve equality for the LGBTQ community. This event will offer free refreshments and all donations will benefit the ACLU of Alaska Foundation.

“Alaskans who were legally married in another state will now be eligible for federal benefits that are based on where the couple celebrated their marriage,” ACLU Alaska’s website reads, “However, many federal benefits (including some federal tax exemptions) are based on where you live, not where you got married.Other benefits aren’t clear. We don’t know exactly what benefits each married same-sex Alaskan couple will be eligible for yet. Future administrative orders, policies, laws, and lawsuits may change the answer, too.”

Attendees can learn about rights and benefits for federal employees, immigrants, military personnel and more. They can also learn about what rights or benefits are unlikely to be offered, including Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy and Family and Medical Leave. Some benefits are still in question, including some financial issues, death and survivorship benefits, some public programs and supplemental income, and veterans benefits.

The events are sponsored by the Southeast Alaska Gay and Lesbian Alliance (SEAGLA), PFLAG Alaska, The Rendezvous and Rockwell. For more on ACLU Alaska, visit AKCLU.org or call 907-258-0044.

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