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Kerttula: Same-sex unions are 'a civil rights question'

Leaves door open to introducing bill

Posted: February 20, 2013 - 1:03am

Asked whether her caucus would support a legal status for same-sex couples, such as civil unions, at a House minority caucus press conference Tuesday morning, House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, called the issue “a civil rights question” and said she believes that “people deserve to live with whomever they want.”

“There’s no two ways about this,” said Kerttula. “These are humans and deserve to have human relationships.”

Kerttula also responded to a question on whether the caucus would bring forth a bill to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples in Alaska.

“We haven’t discussed that,” Kerttula said. “I personally would be happy to do that. I strongly, strongly believe in this right.”

Members of the House majority caucus, holding a press conference Friday, were also asked whether they would support legal same-sex unions in Alaska, prompting laughter from several members.

Video of that reaction has been reposted on several websites, including the Huffington Post, ThinkProgress and Alaska Commons, with many suggesting it was inconsiderate toward the gay community.

House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt, R-Anchorage, responded to the question Friday by saying the caucus had not discussed it and did not consider it part of their “guiding principles.”

“What’s important about this caucus is that we’ve focused on the things that really allow people to have a great life,” Pruitt said at the time. “We didn’t have a discussion here about what happens inside your home. We had a discussion here about whether you can make money, there’s a great economy, and whether or not you’re going to have the opportunity to live in Alaska with a great future.”

Pruitt and House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, released a joint statement Monday apologizing for the laughter and saying it was “not appropriate.”

• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 586-1821 or at mark.d.miller@juneauempire.com.

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