In 1998, Alaska became the first state to put a ban on same-sex marriage into its constitution. Now, the minority leader in the State Senate wants to get rid of that ban.
Anchorage Democrat Hollis French is introducing a measure to strike the amendment. Federal courts have recently invalidated similar amendments in Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia. French says Alaska should be pro-active on the issue in light of those decisions.
“We can wait if we all want to wait for the day — and I think the day is coming soon — when the U.S. Supreme Court rules that state prohibitions on same-sex marriage are inconsistent with freedom, with justice, with liberty, and with equality,” said French, who is also running for lieutenant governor. “Better yet, I believe it should be erased by our own actions – by passing this resolution and submitting it to the voters.”
French’s measure faces an uphill battle. Any changes to the state constitution require approval of two-thirds of the Legislature, and then a majority vote of Alaska citizens. On top of that, key members of Senate’s Republican leadership have said they don’t feel there’s enough support for it.
Same-sex marriage isn’t the only gay rights issue up for consideration by the Legislature. The Senate’s Health and Social Services Committee heard a bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for the first time on Monday.