Fairbanks City Council addresses equal rights, receives both positive and negative feedback

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Emotions filled the Fairbanks City Council chambers Monday night as an equal rights ordinance was up for debate.

Over 70 Fairbanks residents and stakeholders spoke on Ordinance 6093 addressing equal rights - giving both positive and negative testimony.

The proposed ruling currently states that discrimination based on race, color, age, religion, sex, familial status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity or national origin poses a threat to the health, safety and general welfare of citizens of the City of Fairbanks.

If passed the ordinance would change Fairbanks General Code to require employers to offer equal employment opportunities to all, for housing and realtors to offer services to all, and those wishing to use public accommodations would be able to do so freely.

Not everyone agrees with the proposed ordinance, including Pastor and Business Owner Kevin Smith.

"It's better to obey God than man because I obey the bible before I obey anything that you decide,” he said.

Those in favor of the ordinance gave their reasons for wanting an ordinance like this. David Frey is a middle school safety program coordinator. He works with kids almost every day.

"The reality is that our youth, even while they voice disdain for us adults, they have incredibly receptive antenna about our laws, regulations and norms. The actual laws that you pass tonight are transmitted as social norms to our youth,” he said.

Before making a decision on the ruling, some language was changed for clarification.

And after four hours of public testimony and council discussion, a 4 to 2 vote postponed Ordinance 6093 to the council's February 25th meeting for further discussion and public input.
Council members Shoshana Kun and Kathy Ottersten where the only council members against the postponement.