Gay rights advocates are celebrating a win in the nation’s capital.
The U.S. Senate has passed a bill to ban workplace discrimination against gay and transgender people. Both Alaska senators voted for it. But, the bill is unlikely to become law.
In the end, it wasn’t even close: 64-32. Sen. Mark Begich says the relative lack of controversy is a mark of how far the country has come on gay rights in recent years, and he thinks Alaska is no exception.
“I think Alaskans don’t believe in discrimination of any kind, and you shouldn’t discriminate in the workplace,” he said.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of 10 Republicans who joined the Democrats in voting in favor of the non-discrimination bill, known by its acronym: ENDA.
Current federal law already bans employers from firing or refusing to hire based on race, sex or ethnicity, but in Alaska and 28 other states, no law expressly bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Murkowski said on the Senate floor the existing categories leave some people out.
“Those in the LGBT Community for whom discrimination on the bases of sex doesn’t apply, so what ENDA does, is it bridges that gap, and it is time that that gap is resolved,” she said.
It has an exception for churches and religious schools. Still, it’s unlikely to pass the House, or even come to the floor.
House Speaker John Boehner opposes it. He says it would lead to frivolous lawsuits.
- In the past month, the top three leaders at the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority have submitted letters of resignation. The shake up comes at a time when the organization, which manages funds for mental health and substance abuse programming across the state, is undergoing a special legislative audit over concerns about financial mismanagement.
- Alaska’s U.S. senators have issued a second round of statements following the rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. This time their criticisms are aimed at President Donald Trump.
- States across the lower 48 will get to see a full solar eclipse Monday, August 21, as the moon slides directly in front of the sun for roughly two minutes. People from all over the world are flocking to towns that will fall under the path of the moon’s shadow.
- A science, technology, engineering, and math program geared towards Alaska Native students has guided one Kodiak local through both middle school and high school. And now, he’s off to college.