Letter: Protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination

The Assembly is now considering a measure that would extend protections against discrimination in housing and employment to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in Juneau. As an attorney who for years has represented Alaskans suffering from discrimination and from unjust loss of employment, I can tell you how devastating it is to lose your house or your job unfairly or be treated as a second-class citizen.

It is time to enact this ordinance. America’s and Alaska’s better spirit has been to prevent discrimination against any members of our community. We have done so already as to race, religion, sex, age and national origin. By enacting this non-discrimination measure into law, we will create a higher standard to hold up to our young people that will become part of how most of us feel about others. We cannot force individuals to change their feelings. But by enacting non-discrimination as an enforceable legal standard, we will stand up for Juneau as a better community, and in the long run we will change attitudes.

The best measure of a community is how we treat people who are different. In the case of LGBT Juneauites, the lesson in front of us is not that they are different people but that they are ordinary Juneauites, friends and neighbors who work, live and love just as straight Juneauites do, and who make Juneau a better place by being part of our community. We all deserve to be treated with respect and good will. Enacting this measure will make Juneau a better and safer place for all.

Douglas K. Mertz,