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The mayor of Alaska's second largest city has signaled his support for legislation that would deny gender-affirming bathroom access to trans people.
Ahead of the Fairbanks mayoral election on Oct.. 1, Republican incumbent Jim Matherly indicated that he would be in favor of local laws which would "require that restrooms, locker rooms, etc. in public buildings be designated for and used exclusively by persons of the same biological sex," similar to North Carolina's quazi-amended House Bill 2.
According to the local news site Midnight Sun, Matherly's position was included on a four-question "Values Voter Guide" released by the right-wing Alaska Family Council. The anti-LGBTQ+ organization, which lobbied to repeal a trans-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in Anchorage, also asked the sitting mayor whether he supported policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation in housing and employment. Matherly claimed he did not.
The mayor vetoed an LGBTQ+ inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in March after it passed the Anchorage City Council by a 4-2 vote. In a letter to Fairbanks residents, Matherly said he did "not take this action lightly."
"I became a sponsor of Ordinance 6093 because I believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, and the concept behind this Ordinance is sound," he wrote. "As with most concepts, the details become challenging when they affect so many people with different priorities and opinions."
Matherly had called for a nondiscrimination ordinance to be put up to a public vote, but local LGBTQ+ advocates rejected the proposal following the contentious fight in Anchorage. Although Anchorage ultimately became the first city in the U.S. to uphold its trans-inclusive ordinance when it was put up to a public vote, equality groups faced a vicious right-wing opposition campaign that smeared transgender people as pedophiles, perverts, and predators.
When the Fairbanks City Council voted on the now-defunct LGBTQ+ ordinance in February, a supporter of the proposal had their windshield smashed in.
Earlier this year, members of the LGBTQ+ community in Fairbanks pledged to respond to Matherly's veto by ousting him from office -- and they will soon have their chance to follow through on that promise. Three other candidates are challenging Matherly in the race: Kathryn Dodge, a former two-term member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly; Lakesha Jordan, a political newcomer; and Frank Turney, a local activist.
While Alaska Family Council claims none of the three challengers publicized their position on an anti-trans bathroom bill, the group noted that Dodge was endorsed by Planned Parenthood -- which was instrumental in the fight to protect the Anchorage ordinance.
Out has reached out to Matherly to expand on his views and will update this story should he respond.
RELATED | Anchorage, Alaska Voters Defeat Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill
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