The Republican-led House Majority Caucus laughed off the idea of enacting civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples as they rolled out their “Guiding Principles” last week, characterizing such protections as “what happens inside your home.”
Responding to a question from Mark Miller of the Juneau Empire, House Leader Lance Pruitt said the party didn’t even discuss or consider the measures:
MILLER: I’m looking at a recent Public Policy Polling of Alaska that found that only 30 percent of respondents believe there should be no legal recognition of gay couples’ relationships in Alaska. I was just curious, would the caucus support the idea of having domestic partnerships or civil unions open to same-sex couples.
PRUITT: …We didn’t have a discussion here about what happens inside your home. We’re talking about whether or not you can make money, whether or not there is a great economy, and whether or not you’re going to have the opportunity to live in Alaska with a great future. Now, your discussion on that, we didn’t talk about that.
The Alaska constitution defines marriage as a union between one mand and one woman, though in 2005, “the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that public employers in the state of Alaska could not offer employment benefits to married couples without providing similar benefits to same-sex domestic partners.” A state executive order also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in state employment.
In April voters in Anchorage, Alaska overwhelmingly rejected a citywide ballot measure “that would have added protections for people regardless of ‘sexual orientation or transgender identity’ to the city’s civil rights laws.”
issued an apology on Monday. According to House Speaker Mike Chenault (R), it is clear “from the totality of the response and circumstances the laughter was in reaction to which legislator had to field the difficult question, and did not go to the merits of the issue. Regardless, laughter was not appropriate and for that we sincerely apologize.”