LGBT rights in Alaska
|LGBT rights in Alaska|
|Same-sex sexual activity legal?||Legal since 1980|
|Gender identity/expression||Altering sex on birth certificate requires SRS|
|Discrimination protections||Sexual orientation protections in state employment|
|State employees only|
|Alaska Ballot Measure 2 limits marriage to man/woman|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the U.S. state of Alaska face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Same-sex couples and families headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for all the protections available to opposite-sex married couples.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
Alaska repealed its law that criminalized same-sex sexual activity in 1980.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
Alaska does not permit the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state forbids, both by statute and in its constitution, the recognition of same-sex marriages and other form of same-sex partnership solemnized in other jurisdictions. In 1996, the Alaska state legislature passed a ban on same-sex marriage. On May 6, 1996, Governor Tony Knowles did not sign the bill into law, but did not veto it, which allowed the bill to go into effect. In 1998, the Alaska state legislator passed a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The constitutional amendment defining marriage was approved in a voter referendum on November 3, 1998.
State employee benefits
On October 28, 2005, the Supreme Court of Alaska ruled, in Alaska Civil Liberties Union v. State, that state and local government programs violated the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection provision by extending benefits to public employees’ spouses but denying benefits to employees’ domestic partners. The court held the programs unconstitutional because they denied benefits to people who are precluded, under Alaska’s marriage laws, from becoming eligible to receive them.
On November 17, 2006, the Alaska House voted 24-10 in favor of legislation ordering a non-binding referendum for a constitutional amendment to deny benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees. On November 20, the Alaska Senate passed the bill in a 12-3 vote. On December 20, Governor Sarah Palin signed it. On April 3, 2007, Alaska voters, with 52.8% in favor and 48.8% opposed, directed the legislature to put a constitutional amendment denying benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees to the voters. A bill to place such an amendment on the ballot in November 2008 stalled in the state legislature.
Since January 1, 2007, Alaska has provided some limited benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees.
Hamby v. Parnell
On May 12, 2014, five same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Anchorage challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban. The suit named Governor Sean Parnell as the primary defendant. The state's brief, filed on June 19, said that the questions the plaintiffs raised were political, not legal. It said that under the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution "Alaska has the right as a sovereign state to define and regulate marriage" and "Alaska voters had a fundamental right to decide the important public policy issue of whether to alter the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman." District Court Judge Timothy Burgess scheduled oral argument for October 10.
Adoption and parenting
Alaska permits adoption by an unmarried adult without regard to sexual orientation. Lower state courts have allowed some second parent adoptions by gay and lesbian couples, though state court has ruled in a case where such an adoption is disputed.
An executive order prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in state employment since 2002. There is no provision for gender identity in any law.
A July 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that 45% of Alaska voters supported same-sex marriage, while 48% were opposed to the idea. 6% were not sure.
A January/February 2014 Public Policy Polling survey found that 47% of Alaska voters supported same-sex marriage, while 46% were opposed to the idea. 7% were not sure.
A July/August 2014 Public Policy Polling survey found that 49% of Alaska voters supported same-sex marriage, while 45% did not and 6% were not sure.
Hate crime laws
State law does not address hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation.
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