Alaska senators support anti-discrimination bill

JUNEAU — Alaska's U.S. senators voted with the majority Thursday in approving legislation that would bar workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Democratic Sen. Mark Begich called it a matter of fairness. He said it's not right that in some states, people can still be fired for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said discrimination should never be tolerated. She said individuals should be judged on their merits "and not how they look or how they are perceived to be."

The bill would bar employers with at least 15 workers from using someone's sexual orientation or gender identity as the basis for employment decisions, including hiring or firing. Religious institutions and the military would be exempt.

The bill's chances in the House are considered iffy.

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