Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/09/1996 08:05 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SB 308 - PROHIBIT SAME SEX MARRIAGES                                        
                                                                               
 The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs             
 Committee was SB 308.                                                         
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES announced in the effort of time the committee members             
 had been provided with the minutes of the previous testimony heard            
 in the Senate.  Therefore, she would only take testimony from those           
 that had not already testified.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 1641                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON explained there was a change in SB 308.               
 She believed anybody should be able to testify.                               
                                                                               
 Number 1653                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied, "I understand."  She reiterated those that had           
 already testified in the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate            
 House, Education and Social Services Committee would be heard today           
 if there was time.  She wanted to hear only from those that had not           
 already testified.                                                            
                                                                               
 Number 1673                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she disagreed.  She had not heard the            
 testimony in the Senate.  Furthermore, this was the only committee            
 in the House of Representatives that would hear this bill.                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Robinson if she had read the                 
 minutes in the packet of information?                                         
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON replied, "that's beside the point."  The              
 bottom line was that the people had a right to come before this               
 committee and give their testimony.                                           
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied she would hear those that had not testified               
 already first, and if time permitted, she would hear the others.              
                                                                               
 Number 1717                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG explained he was hear to present the           
 nature of SB 308 to the House State Affairs Committee members.  He            
 said SB 308 was similar to HB 227 but was different in two                    
 respects.  It first added the explicit prohibition of same-sex                
 marriages in the state.  It secondly applied the document to                  
 marriages contracted in other states making them unenforceable in             
 the state.  The provisions were necessary to avoid potential                  
 litigation as it related to the full faith and credit clause of the           
 U. S. Constitution with respect to reciprocity.  He cited the                 
 activity of the legislature and the Supreme Court in the state of             
 Hawaii regarding this same issue (Baehr v. Lewin).  He explained            
 the case was still in the court waiting for a recommendation by a             
 committee established by the Hawaiian State Legislature.  It was              
 possible that the state of Hawaii would allow for the recognition             
 of same-sex marriages.  He referred the committee members to a                
 handout titled, "Family News - Update on Same Sex Marriage Bans"              
 indicating this was a national issue.  Furthermore, a case had been           
 filed in the Third Judicial District in Anchorage challenging the             
 lack of a same-sex marriage license based on the privacy clause and           
 the equal protection clause of the Alaska State Constitution.                 
 Therefore, it was important for the legislature to make a strong              
 and compelling argument for a policy prohibiting same-sex                     
 marriages.  He asked the committee members for their support of SB            
 308.                                                                          
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness via teleconference in                 
 Kodiak, Charles Tripp.                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 1941                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHARLES TRIPP expressed his support of SB 308.  He explained it was           
 in response to reciprocity and the prohibition of same sex                    
 marriages in Alaska.  The bill was not discriminatory against                 
 homosexuals, but a distinction between what was a family and what             
 was not.  He cited rape was so broadly defined in society that the            
 term had become meaningless.  Therefore, the broadening of the term           
 "marriage" needed to be avoided to truly distinguish between                  
 ordinary behavior and reprehensible behavior.  Furthermore, society           
 reserved benefits for families and marriages, and by providing                
 those benefits to all, it removed the special privileges.  The bill           
 further prohibited the adoption of a child by a homosexual couple.            
 He urged the committee members to support SB 308.                             
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Kodiak, Dan Minyard.                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 2089                                                                   
                                                                               
 DAN MINYARD expressed his support of SB 308.  He felt it was the              
 responsibility of the state to protect and honor the family                   
 institution.                                                                  
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Delta            
 Junction, Charles Abbott.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 2142                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHARLES ABBOTT said because of homosexuality there was AIDS and               
 because of AIDS there was an airborne virus transmitted through               
 turburculosis.  He wondered why the leaders would consider killing            
 the people for the sake of a few perverted homosexuals.  He called            
 homosexuality an abomination.  "Judgement is coming upon this                 
 nation as it is (indisc.) law."  Furthermore, homosexuals could not           
 reproduce, so "let's stop this unnatural perverted lying now."                
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Delta            
 Junction, Barbara Rawalt.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 2192                                                                   
                                                                               
 BARBARA RAWALT called SB 308 an excellent bill.  She said a                   
 traditional marriage was a safeguard for a stable society.  The               
 bill also maintained the standard of basic rights and laws.  She              
 reiterated her support of SB 308 and urged the committee members to           
 support it as well.                                                           
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Delta            
 Junction, Roy Bowdre.                                                         
                                                                               
 Number 2334                                                                   
                                                                               
 ROY BOWDRE asked the committee members to support SB 308.  This               
 bill would help prevent the force of the immorality of a few onto             
 the majority.                                                                 
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Anchorage, Deborah Vandruff.                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 2263                                                                   
                                                                               
 DEBORAH VANDRUFF said as a health care provider she was concerned             
 about the state of families today.  She asked the committee members           
 to consider the fact that families were changing with society, and            
 by passing a law against a gay family would not make it go away.              
 She wondered what happened to the Alaskan policy of "live and let             
 live."  The bill smelled of outside groups trying to impose their             
 will onto Alaska.  Furthermore, recognizing a loving couple would             
 not only provide stability to the communities but produce secure              
 and good citizens.  She was not sure what everyone was so afraid of           
 when two people wanted to make a commitment that loved each other.            
 Moreover, homosexuals could reproduce contrary to the previous                
 testifier.  She asked the committee members to not pass this                  
 "ridiculous bill."                                                            
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Anchorage, Sylvia Short.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 2338                                                                   
                                                                               
 SYLVIA SHORT, Member, Citizen of the State of Alaska, read the                
 following statement into the record.                                          
                                                                               
 "One of the tenets advocated by the Republican majority in Congress           
 is the lessening of government regulations.  This I applaud as a              
 recognition of the independence of the American spirit which is the           
 product of our freedom and equality.  Every governmental                      
 encroachment on our privacy diminishes our American spirit.                   
                                                                               
 "The government itself has no rights other than those granted to it           
 by the people.  The government, therefore, cannot dictate our                 
 private relationships as it has no such powers.  In Alaska the                
 people have spoken clearly that the right of privacy shall be a               
 right of Alaskan citizens.  The state therefore cannot infringe on            
 our privacy nor grant to some what it refused to others without               
 breaking our constitution.                                                    
                                                                               
 "Some raise arguments about a `slippery slop' in opposition to our            
 exercise of the right to control our own dying.  The slippery slope           
 could be extended to the right to marry or to recognize marriages,            
 so that maybe one could not marry a left-handed person or a                   
 Eurasian or a native person.  These are all part of the same pain,            
 if our laws will purport to inhibit marriage between certain                  
 persons, where does the government stop?"                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Anchorage, Allison Mendel.                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 2409                                                                   
 ALLISON MENDEL said she had lived in Anchorage for 14 years of                
 which two of her four children were born in Anchorage.  She was               
 also an attorney.  She was interested in the comments of                      
 Representative Rokeberg.  She had followed the bill closely and had           
 yet to understand the need for the bill.  She asked the committee             
 to enlighten her regarding the crisis that this piece of                      
 legislation was responding to.  Furthermore, she said there were              
 more people that wanted to testify on this bill but could not due             
 to the short notice of the hearings in the Senate.  Please consider           
 that as well.  This was a serious road to follow, she explained.              
 She reiterated she had yet to hear public articulation regarding              
 the seriousness of the problem.                                               
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-47, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 0000                                                                   
                                                                               
 MS. MENDEL further said the state of Alaska had never had a law on            
 the books to disregard the law of another state.  She asked the               
 committee members to read the memorandum dated March 28, 1996, from           
 Terri Lauterbach, Legislative Counsel, carefully because it was               
 produced late in the hearings in the Senate.  She reiterated this             
 was not an issue, it was not responding to any social problem that            
 needed to be addressed.  She said it was a perception of something            
 that might happen down the line.                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Anchorage, Lynn Stimler.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 0076                                                                   
                                                                               
 LYNN STIMLER asked the committee members to respond to the                    
 memorandum dated March 28, 1996, from Terri Lauterbach, Legislative           
 Counsel.  She asked Representative Willis to respond first as her             
 representative.  She asked Representative Willis directly what he             
 thought of the constitutional arguments contained in the legal                
 analysis of the ACLU and in the memorandum?                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asked Ms. Stimler to stand by because the committee was           
 still taking public testimony.  They would respond to her question            
 later.                                                                        
                                                                               
 MS. STIMLER said she would pass her three minutes allotted so that            
 all of the Representatives could respond to the arguments in the              
 ACLU paper and in the memorandum so that the public understood                
 their positions.                                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she would like to continue with the testimony, and           
 the committee members would consider her question when discussing             
 the bill after the testimony.                                                 
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness in Juneau, Jed Whittaker.             
                                                                               
 Number 0176                                                                   
                                                                               
 JED WHITTAKER said he was here today to say a prayer to heal the              
 hatred that was in the hearts of the committee members.  The hatred           
 that did not recognize that everyone was different, yet the same,             
 because we were human beings.  He was here to pray that the love in           
 their hearts would come forward to overcome the hatred that this              
 bill was about.  He said it was acceptable to disagree about                  
 appropriate social behavior, but 50 percent of heterosexual                   
 marriages ended in divorce.  He wondered where the stability was              
 that this bill was supporting.  He said, "you cannot legislative              
 love.  You could try to legislate hate, but you could not legislate           
 love."  He reiterated he hoped they could find the love in their              
 hearts and see that the bill was nothing but hatred.  It was not              
 appropriate for the state of Alaska to engage in acts of hatred.              
                                                                               
 Number 0247                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied that she did not hate anyone.  She did not like           
 the actions of some people, however.  She reiterated she did not              
 hate Mr. Whittaker or other people.  She did not even think of the            
 homosexuality relating to this bill.  She was willing to create               
 legislation to give same-sex relationships similar benefits that a            
 man and woman marriage produced.  However, the word "marriage" was            
 sacred to her.  She announced she would support SB 308.  "What you            
 have (Mr. Whittaker) is a loving relationship, if that happens to             
 be your choice, I believe that is something different."                       
                                                                               
 Number 0300                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. WHITTAKER stated Chair James assumed he was gay.                          
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied she did make that assumption.  She apologized             
 if she was incorrect.                                                         
                                                                               
 MR. WHITTAKER further said the assumption that Chair James just               
 made was the heart of this kind of legislation.  He called it                 
 bigotry because there was an assumption of hate based on sight                
 alone.                                                                        
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES responded she liked Mr. Whittaker just fine.  She did             
 not hate him.                                                                 
                                                                               
 MR. WHITTAKER replied, "you referred to me as a gay man."                     
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she also liked him that way also.  She had no                
 problem with "those kind of people, whoever they are."  She                   
 reiterated she had no dislike for gay people.  She said she felt              
 the same way as Mr. Whittaker did when she was accused of being               
 hateful.  It was the same frustration.  It had to be dealt with,              
 but it probably would not be solved today.  She announced she would           
 be happy to talk to Mr. Whittaker at another time on this very                
 issue to see how to accomplish these goals.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0354                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said he would prefer to finish the testimony             
 before debating the issue.                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES explained the testimony was finished unless there was             
 time left for the previous witnesses to testify again.  She                   
 apologized if she insulted Representative Green on this issue, but            
 she felt compelled to address the hatred statement.                           
                                                                               
 MR. WHITTAKER said hatred was what this issue was all about.                  
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied she understood his feelings.  She also had the            
 same feelings.                                                                
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES announced there was enough time left for two minutes              
 each from the remaining testifiers.                                           
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said, "so testimony isn't over then."                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied, "no."  There was time left to hear further               
 testimony.                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Anchorage, Susan Moeher.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 0414                                                                   
                                                                               
 SUSAN MOEHER said she was a registered nurse and was concerned that           
 the laws of the community did not reflect the families that she met           
 and worked.  The families had changed over the years, and the laws            
 were behind the times.  They did not support the families of the              
 1990's.  Furthermore, as a health care provider she found this bill           
 to be very cruel and exclusive to people.  She believed it was an             
 important bill for the homosexual community because it needed the             
 same sort of benefits and support as the heterosexual community,              
 such as, health care benefits.  She reiterated SB 308 was wrong.              
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Kenai,           
 Phil Reemtsma.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 0557                                                                   
                                                                               
 PHIL REEMTSMA said he supported SB 308.  It was not an issue of               
 hate.  He was a Minister at Calvary Baptist and he did not hate               
 anybody.  There was a responsibility to do what was right, however.           
 It was God that set the standard and it was God that instituted               
 marriage, therefore, there was a moral responsibility to do what              
 was right.  He thanked the Chair for allowing him to testify.                 
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Kenai,           
 Joanne Jencks.                                                                
                                                                               
 Number 0620                                                                   
                                                                               
 JOANNE JENCKS thanked the committee members for considering SB 308            
 today.  She said it was too bad that society had degenerated to the           
 point that this type of legislation needed to be considered.  The             
 previous testimony in the Senate indicated that the opposition was            
 concerned about the cost.  She cited in the 1960's the bible and              
 God were thrown out of the schools, and since then divorce had                
 skyrocketed, children were having babies, and venereal diseases had           
 gotten out of hand causing tax payers enormous amounts of money.              
 Furthermore, she stated a homosexual lifestyle was the cause of               
 AIDS also costing the tax payers an enormous amount of money with             
 no end in sight.  Therefore, if the traditional merits of marriage            
 were adhered to, it would not cause the state anything compared to            
 the alternatives.                                                             
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in Delta            
 Junction, Dan Davis.                                                          
                                                                               
 Number 0700                                                                   
                                                                               
 DAN DAVIS said he wanted to go on record again as a strong                    
 supporter of SB 308.  It was a behavior that was physiologically              
 destructive.  He further said it was an issue of sodomy and not               
 procreation.  He cited the average homosexual had over 500 partners           
 in a lifetime which did nothing more than spread sexually                     
 transmitted diseases.  The statistics further showed that                     
 homosexual behavior was destructive to the health of the individual           
 and decreased his life expectancy.  Therefore, to promote this                
 behavior was dangerous.  It did not make sense to legitimize the              
 behavior legally.  He said SB 308 was right.  He reiterated                   
 homosexuality was a behavior choice, it was not about a                       
 relationship.                                                                 
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness in Juneau, Mildred Boesser.           
                                                                               
 Number 0829                                                                   
                                                                               
 MILDRED BOESSER said she had testified before so she would keep her           
 comments brief.  She said she was very much in favor of supporting            
 families.  She had been married to the same person for 48 years               
 with four children and four grandchildren.  She was not against               
 marriage.  However, there were other types of families in this                
 society.  She said the times were changing and it was necessary to            
 recognize the other types of families and give them support.  She             
 knew two lesbian couples that had lived together for 40 years.                
 They could never be married, however.  Her own daughter was a                 
 lesbian and had lived with her partner for 14 years.  They owned a            
 house, worked, and paid taxes in this community, but could not                
 enjoy the benefits of a married couple.  This was an inequality               
 that was not right.  Moreover, she was a Christian and suggested it           
 was time to realize that God might have created people with a                 
 different sexual orientation.  She disagreed with the previous                
 speaker that homosexuality was a choice.  It was not a choice, it             
 was something that one was born with, so it was a gift of God.                
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness in Juneau, Daniel Collison.            
                                                                               
 Number 0955                                                                   
                                                                               
 DANIEL COLLISON, Board Members, Southeast Alaska Gay and Lesbian              
 Alliance, shared an Easter story with the committee members of a              
 child seeking questions to a traditional part of the dinner                   
 preparation.  He said gays and lesbians had never fit the mold of             
 a traditional marriage of one man and one woman.  The advocates               
 rested too easily on this traditional interpretation of marriage.             
 A narrow and prudish view belied the fluid manner in which humans             
 had and would continue to redefine marriage as an institution.  He            
 cited marriages were more often than not in the past arranged by              
 the parents.  He further wondered about interracial marriages when            
 the Southern states outlawed them in the 1960's.  Similarly, SB 308           
 denied recognition of same-sex marriages sanctioned by other                  
 states.  The courts had found such laws to be unconstitutional in             
 the past and would continue to do so in the future.  These cases              
 never hinged on the gray area of legal interpretation, it was black           
 and white in constitutional law.  The state had no compelling                 
 interest to bar a recognition of a union with another person of the           
 same-sex.                                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness in Juneau, Sara Boesser.               
                                                                               
 Number 1216                                                                   
                                                                               
 SARA BOESSER said she was glad to see that the committee members              
 had the memorandum dated March 28, 1996, from Terri Lauterbach,               
 Legislative Counsel, because it showed the constitutional problems            
 of the bill.  She said there was no cause for harm if the same                
 gender partners married because there was no way to stop the                  
 affirmation of the relationship currently.  Furthermore, she stated           
 her marriage to her same-sex partner did not interfere with the               
 strength of another family.  She cited it was fidelity, love,                 
 respect, commitment, honesty, trust and responsibility that                   
 strengthened a family.  Furthermore, history was against bills such           
 as SB 308.  She cited race, religion, disability and divorce were             
 issues surrounding marriages in the past.  Therefore, the tradition           
 of marriage had evolved over time.  Change was the nature of an               
 evolving society.  History was what created the civil rights                  
 protection in this world today.  Therefore, the bill would be an              
 extension of the next wave of legal rights to even more Americans.            
 She asked the committee members to vote against SB 308.                       
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness in Juneau, Marsha Buck.                
                                                                               
 Number 1384                                                                   
                                                                               
 MARSHA BUCK, Member, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and            
 Gays (PFLAG) - Juneau, said PFLAG was against SB 308.  The bill               
 sounded and felt like discrimination.  She cited her daughter was             
 in a relationship with another woman and was being discriminated              
 against for wanting to establish a strong and stable family.  The             
 bill did not contain any features that were helpful to Alaskans,              
 but instead interfered with the personal rights of Alaskans.  She             
 reiterated PFLAG was against SB 308 and asked that it be removed              
 from any further consideration.                                               
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Kodiak, Burnie Lindsey.                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 1522                                                                   
                                                                               
 BURNIE LINDSEY said he supported SB 308.  The country was                     
 established on Biblical principles and the Ten Commandments.  He              
 was against homosexuality.  Furthermore, one of the reasons for a             
 family was to procreate and homosexuality could not provide that              
 aspect of a marriage.                                                         
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Anchorage, Amy Young.                                                         
                                                                               
 Number 1618                                                                   
                                                                               
 AMY YOUNG said she was against SB 308.  The language was                      
 unconstitutional.  It was fear that drove the opposition.  She said           
 the 1990's represented "gay bashing" reinforcing the fear and                 
 hatred.  Furthermore, the laws affected the mood of the public.               
 Therefore, if SB 308 was passed it sent the message that it was               
 acceptable to discriminate against gays and lesbians.                         
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called on the next witness via teleconference in                  
 Dillingham, Karen Carlisle.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 1777                                                                   
                                                                               
 KAREN CARLISLE said she was against SB 308.  She was embarrassed              
 that legislators in her state were trying to pass a bill that was             
 so blatantly prejudiced.  It reminded her of school grade behavior            
 amongst children.  She cited she knew several lesbian couples that            
 were very responsible citizens.  Furthermore, the Methodists,                 
 Lutherans, Episcopalians, Unitarians, and the Unity Church                    
 performed commitment ceremonies, therefore, not all Christians were           
 opposed to same-sex marriages.  She asked the committee members to            
 oppose this prejudice and vote no on SB 308.                                  
                                                                               
 Number 1947                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON requested that SB 308 go to a subcommittee            
 to further look at the issues addressed in the memorandum dated               
 March 28, 1996, from Terri Lauterbach, Legislative Counsel.  It was           
 clear that Alaska denied same-sex marriages.  Therefore, this was             
 a non-issue.  It generated fear because people believed it was an             
 issue.  She reiterated there were potential U. S. Constitutional              
 and Alaska State Constitutional issues that affected Sec. 2 of SB             
 308 that needed to be looked at further.                                      
                                                                               
 Number 2039                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN wondered how gay people could reproduce.  He              
 was referring to a statement made earlier by a witness regarding              
 the ability of a gay couple to reproduce.  He said, "inquiring                
 minds want to know how."                                                      
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied she did not have the answer.                              
                                                                               
 Number 2078                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said there was a full faith and credit                
 issue involved, but according to the memorandum dated March, 1995,            
 from Terri Lauterbach, Legislative Counsel, she recommended making            
 changes to HB 227 to overcome those objections thus creating SB               
 308.  It was crystal clear that the decision of one state's supreme           
 court should not be able to dictate the social policies of this               
 country.  Therefore, this was a necessary action.  He reiterated              
 there was a case filed in the Third Judicial District in Alaska               
 regarding this issue, therefore, it was a current issue before the            
 legislature.  There was a compelling reason to make a public policy           
 statement.  This was not a non-issue.  Furthermore, the policies              
 relating to the Loving v. Virginia case set forth by Ms. Lauterbach         
 and Ms. Stimler were not germane.  A situation did exist that                 
 needed to be clarified in statute, therefore, he urged the                    
 committee members to support SB 308.                                          
                                                                               
 Number 2274                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said HB 368 was recently passed out of the House State            
 Affairs Committee that contained many provisions that bridged on              
 the issue of constitutionality.  She said, if it was                          
 unconstitutional, it would be determined by the courts.  That was             
 their responsibility.  However, over the past few years, the courts           
 had been making the laws.  The legislative body could not sit here            
 and try to second guess what the courts would do.  The legislature            
 was here to legislate the will of the people.                                 
                                                                               
 Number 2358                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked Representative Rokeberg if he knew of           
 any case where the courts interpreted that a same-sex marriage was            
 legal in the state of Alaska?                                                 
                                                                               
 Number 2381                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG replied, "no."  He was only familiar with             
 the Baehr v. Lewin case in Hawaii.  The only case he knew of in             
 Alaska was at the bar.                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 2408                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said the current law was changed to "person" by the               
 revisor of statutes, whereas previously it stated "man" and                   
 "woman."  Therefore, SB 308 would make this perfectly clear.                  
                                                                               
 Number 2439                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she was talking about a court                    
 interpretation.  The courts had not interpreted that anything other           
 than a man and a woman could be married.  She said Chair James was            
 correct that in 1974 the language changed in the statutes.  She               
 further wondered if anyone in the state of Alaska had issued a                
 license to recognize a same-sex marriage.                                     
                                                                               
 Number 2472                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG said this was a current area of dispute,              
 judicially.                                                                   
                                                                               
 TAPE 96-48, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 0000                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG further said in Minnesota there was a                 
 statute that clearly indicated that discrimination against sexual             
 orientation was not allowed.  However, it strictly prohibited same-           
 sex marriages.  Clearly, there were different courts and different            
 rulings on similar language with varying conclusions.                         
                                                                               
 Number 0077                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she supported SB 308 because society was on a                
 "slippery slope."  The bill was not a slippery slope bill, however.           
 Furthermore, she was not convinced that society was willing to go             
 down that slippery slope any further.  Society was paying a price             
 for the acceptance of divorce, for example.  There was a direct               
 correlation between the money spent on the welfare programs and the           
 loosening of society.  She said she was not judging if that was               
 right or wrong, however.  She was also afraid of the effects of               
 conditioning to the point that it did not bother a person anymore.            
 This was how society had progressed through he 20th Century.                  
 Moreover, she remembered when common law was not recognized in some           
 states.  She believed that a ceremony was not needed to recognize             
 a marriage, but according to laws of the land a permit was needed.            
 She said she did not have a problem with same-sex relationships and           
 recognizing their rights under the laws.  However, she did not                
 agree with using the term "marriage" to describe that relationship.           
 She was not willing to give up the concept of marriage between a              
 man and a woman just yet.  Furthermore, she hated discrimination              
 and would not discriminate against anybody.  She looked at SB 308             
 as a discrimination against herself, however, and her concept of              
 marriage.  Marriage was very, very important to her, therefore, she           
 would support SB 308.                                                         
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES announced she wanted to move the bill out of the                  
 committee today.                                                              
                                                                               
 Number 0388                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said in many ways she agreed with Chair               
 James.  She believed, however, that SB 308 contained constitutional           
 problems.  Furthermore, the pain that the bill brought forward was            
 wrong when this was a non-issue.  The law indicated that no one had           
 ever been issued a marriage license in the state of Alaska unless             
 it was a man and a woman couple.  The reasoning behind this issue             
 at a national level was because many did not like the lifestyle of            
 homosexuals.  She further cited AS 25.05.021 that stated a marriage           
 was prohibited if either party already had a husband or wife.                 
 Furthermore, AS 25.05.010-11 was titled "husband and wife."  It was           
 clear this was not an issue costing the state money.  There was a             
 case in court so let it rule and if there was a problem then the              
 legislature should address the issue.  She reiterated this was an             
 issue because of the fears of people that someone other than a man            
 or a woman would get married.  Moreover, she cited a legal opinion            
 that stated the statute authorized the issuance of a marriage                 
 license between "persons."  It also indicated that marriage was a             
 civil contract that could be entered into by males at the age of              
 21.  She did not realize that males had to be 21 and females had to           
 be 18 to get married.  She suggested looking at that further.  She            
 reiterated the statutes were clear regarding marriage.  She                   
 reiterated by addressing this issue the legislature was warranting            
 the fears of the people when in fact it was not a fear that the               
 people should be concerned about in Alaska.                                   
                                                                               
 Number 0598                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said the laws now do prohibit same-sex                   
 marriages.  However, he believed it should be made clear to the               
 people.  This was a painful subject because society was changing.             
 The courts were established to interpret laws and the legislature             
 was established to make laws.  Therefore, whether or not certain              
 portions of the bill would be found unconstitutional should be left           
 to the courts.  Moreover, according to the animal kingdom,                    
 including mankind, homosexuality was an unnatural act.  It was                
 becoming more prevalent, however, in society.  Society, however,              
 was founded under the laws of God.  He was concerned about the                
 Christians testifying that they were in favor of homosexual                   
 behavior.  He suggested they look at the book that was divinely               
 inspired.  It was clear that homosexual relationships were not the            
 will of God according to the Bible.  It was a travesty that a                 
 society would condone that type of behavior.  Therefore, a bill was           
 needed to not recognize the behavior in Alaska and in other states.           
 He said he would support SB 308.                                              
                                                                               
 Number 0841                                                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she believed in the statement of "judge not that             
 you be not judged."  She felt her responsibility to her God was her           
 own behavior.  That was why she did not discriminate against other            
 people.  She called it a reciprocal agreement.  She reiterated she            
 felt passionate about the traditional concept of marriage.  Her               
 district also felt the same way.                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called for a motion to pass the bill out of the                   
 committee.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 0886                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said that legal opinions were just opinions.              
 He said there were as many opinions as there were lawyers.  He was            
 responding to Ms. Stimler's question of the committee members                 
 regarding the legal analysis of the ACLU.                                     
                                                                               
 Number 0914                                                                   
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN moved that SB 308 move from the committee with            
 individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes.  Hearing no             
 objection, it was so moved from the House State Affairs Committee.            

Document Name Date/Time Subjects