Alaska editorial: Alaska's constitution should be rewritten to be gender neutral

Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2007

This editorial appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

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OK, now here's a proposed amendment to the Alaska Constitution that really shouldn't engender much controversy.

It's about gender.

The Alaska Constitution has many references to "him," "he," "himself" and "his."

"Her," "she," "herself" and "hers" don't exist in the constitution.

It's time for some gender neutrality in the state's guiding document.

We can see the eyes rolling now. Surely there are more important issues for politicians to take up, you say. Yes, there are. But bringing gender neutrality to the constitution, while not an issue simmering in a cauldron of female discontent, is one of those housekeeping matters that must be undertaken.

That's what House Joint Resolution 7 does. The resolution, sponsored by a Republican and a Democrat, was scheduled for its first hearing Tuesday morning.

The resolution has been referred to three committees, usually a sign that it's not high on the leadership's list of things to do. That's unfortunate. The election of Sarah Palin as Alaska's first female governor means that correcting the gender slant needs to take on a little more urgency.

Consider that a literal reading of the constitution might suggest that Palin isn't qualified to be governor by virtue of being a woman.

Article III, Sec. 2 of the constitution outlines the qualifications a person must have in order to become governor:

"The governor shall be at least thirty years of age and a qualified voter of the State. He shall have been a resident of Alaska at least seven years immediately preceding his filing for office, and he shall have been a citizen of the United States for at least seven years."

Hmm. Doesn't seem to be too much allowance for a woman governor in there.

The constitution is full of outdated male references that would be rectified by legislative passage of House Joint Resolution 7 and a subsequent vote of approval by the public. Let's bring the constitution into the modern day.

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