My turn: Our constitution should not limit rights

Posted: Sunday, April 01, 2007

A friend reminded me today to vote absentee in the upcoming special election. I'll be out of town on April 3, and I hadn't quite made the connection that the election is that close.

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There has been this part of me that has been hoping that this special election will somehow go away, that it is part of a bad dream or some time warp. Now it appears that I won't wake up from the nightmare and the election will occur after all. We are left with this final gasp from the failed Murkowski administration; and with a Legislature and current Governor who are not courageous enough to call this election what it is - a farce - and overturn the bill calling for this advisory vote.

The special election is ostensibly about amending our model state constitution to bar the state, or cities in the state, from providing benefits to so-called same-sex partners of public employees. Actually, I think it is about wanting homosexuality to not exist at all.

Currently, there is not a legal path in this state for preventing people from being homosexual. Currently, there is not a legal path for preventing homosexual people from working for state or municipal governments.

Yet, reading the letters to the editor of late, it appears that many people consider homosexuality to be an abomination, condemned by the Bible. But we don't get to vote on that. We, you, don't get to bar homosexuality in this election. Instead, we, you, have the opportunity to cast a virtually meaningless vote on whether the homosexual people in our state - my and your friends, whether you know it or not - are entitled to the same rights all of the rest of us have.

You can't bar them from being who they are, you can't bar them from working as dedicated public servants, but by golly you can cast a vote to slap them in the face and attempt to deny them basic rights. And while we are at it, to mar the Alaska Constitution with a limitation on rights, rather than a guarantee of rights.

Article I, Section 3 of our constitution establishes civil rights for the people of Alaska. The same Article, Section 4 of our constitution establishes freedom of religion. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. Please do not try to use our constitution to impose your religion on me.

It's not well-advertised or being discussed much in the media, and you have to dig deep into the state's web site to find it - five clicks in; but here are the absentee voting stations in Juneau: Key Bank downtown, and the Elections Office in the Mendenhall Mall in the valley. I urge you to vote now and to vote "no." Don't forget to vote on this one. Vote "no" on this insult to our integrity as a people.

• Michelle Bonnet is a Juneau resident and state employee.

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