News from Patrick Flynn

WWDSD? (What will Dan Sullivan do?)

Unless your cave’s cable and internet connections failed, and the paper delivery driver got lost, you know the Assembly passed my latest version of the equal rights ordinance by a 7-4 vote.  I know, I’m late telling you this, but I had a business trip in the middle of the week.

Now the attention shifts to Mayor Sullivan and whether he will veto the ordinance or allow it to become law.  After Tuesday’s vote I asked that he grant me a few minutes to discuss the matter, which he seemed to agree to, but yesterday he called and said he’d prefer to take the weekend and think about the matter on his own.  If he does think carefully about this I believe, despite enormous pressure, he will approve the equal rights ordinance because it’s good for business.

I’ve been trying to explain this – the importance of this ordinance to business development would have been the focus of my conversation with the mayor – but haven’t done so as well as I’d like.  Bob Poe did a nice job and an even better example came in a letter to the mayor that he’ll receive today (I just hope he reads it).  Here ’tis:

Dear Mayor Sullivan:

I write to support Ordinance 2009-64(S-2) that the Anchorage Assembly enacted on August 11, 2009. The ordinance is good for Anchorage, good for business, and good for tourism.   Please do not veto this Ordinance.

I am a conservative independent.  I am not gay.  I voted for you.  I was raised as and remain an Anglican/Episcopalian-Roman Catholic.  In my opinion this ordinance is good for business and good for Anchorage.  People have made this into a moral or a religious issue.   I understand that people have deeply felt religious views that we should respect.  I have my own religious views.  However, in my opinion religious or moral views do not make sound policy.

Anchorage depends on tourism.  We need to promote Anchorage as being a people-friendly destination.  Gay people are people.  Objectively verifiable studies reflect that gay people tend to be well-educated with more disposable income.  I enclose a May 2008 summary published by UCLA’s The Williams Institute that concludes “the buying power of gay and lesbian consumers is expected to total $835.3 billion by three years from now.  This represents cumulative growth of 26.5% during the forecast period.”   Gay-friendly locations are people-friendly locations that attract tourism.  I enclose an article published in The Seattle Times a few weeks ago discussing how Iowa has benefitted from gay-friendly policies.   Conversely, communities that have adopted anti-gay measures (or that have repealed gay-friendly ordinances) have been concerned about the adverse impact such actions have had on tourism.  I enclose a 2002 article from a Miami paper addressing this issue.  The best support comes from the free market.  Businesses with an eye on the bottom line adopt policies reflecting market realities.  Successful businesses are now adopting gay-friendly marketing strategies.  I enclose an article from Fortune (abstracted on CNN Money) addressing this point. [1]

I am not a gay advocate.  I am, however, an Anchorage advocate.  Image is important.  Anchorage is the City of Flowers and the City of Lights.  Those are positive, life-affirming images that make people feel good about themselves and their community.  Anchorage is also a city that (hopefully one day) will be submitting another Winter Olympics bid.

Apart from the preceding concerns, the ordinance is also good for business in a more particular sense.  I am a lawyer.  A large part of my practice involves representing and counseling employers.  Diversity works.  It just does.  Diverse, people-friendly workforces are simply more productive, efficient, and successful. Similar ordinances have been enacted in several other communities.  The world has not come to an end.  To the contrary, those communities have generally witnessed economic growth.

Finally, in the interest of full disclosure, Patrick Flynn, the ordinance’s primary sponsor, is married to a shareholder in my firm. I know Patrick.  I disagree with Patrick on probably 95% of all political, social, and economic issues.  However, I admire and respect him.  I was frankly inspired by his courage in sponsoring this ordinance.  I would like someone on my side of the fence (that someone hopefully being you) to exhibit the same courage and foresight as Patrick did.

I urge you to please carefully consider the message you send to others about our community when you review the ordinance. Thank you for considering my views, Mayor Sullivan.

[1] I am not a gay advocate.  I do not have a sheaf of papers promoting gay rights issues.  All of the attached sources were pulled from the Internet in a few minutes yesterday morning using Google and simple search terms.

Not to be outdone, Cook Inlet Region Incorporated also sent a letter in the same spirit, noting that their corporate policies provide for:

“…equal employment to all persons regardless of ethnicity, religion, age, gender, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital and/or parental status.”

As others have said better than I, businesses look for corporate environments that value and respect all their employees.  Anchorage does this well and with approval of this new equal rights ordinance we can do it better.  With that, I’ll leave the mayor to his quiet contemplation and hope he comes to what I feel is the right answer.  Stay tuned!



Admin note: the city updated its web site this week.  While I think I like it better many addresses have changed.  Tha means a lot of MOA links in previous posts are no longer working.  Not sure when, or if, I’ll get them all fixed.

This contribution was made on Friday, 14. August 2009 at 14:40 and was published under the category Other. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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  1. Thank you Mr. Flynn, for being the first person to answer my plea to the Assembly to prevent a veto of this most important ordinance. I am sickened to the point right now, after hearing from you that it’s too late, that I can’t even really type anymore right now. I feel sick and so disheartened. Thank you for all of your hard work, your reasonableness, and your compassion.

    In tears,

    Aleut Granddaughter

    Comment: Aleut Granddaughter – 17. August 2009 @ 1:38 pm

  2. I’d like to add my voice of thanks. I really hope you and your fellow Assembly members will be able to override the mayor’s veto.

    Comment: Sam – 17. August 2009 @ 3:18 pm

  3. I, too, am saddened by the Mayor’s Veto.
    This was NOT the right thing to do. Everyone deserves equal rights to housing, employment, etc., etc.

    On a note of pure self-interest: Vetoing this Ordinance does not bode well for Anchorage or the State of Alaska. We are dependent on “Outsiders” for tourism and business who will, I am certain not react well to this action. This is not 1970. We need others and are connected with other states for business success.

    This is an excellent letter from the attorney and the CIRI equal protection language is what is now pro forma in ANY corporation in America.

    I urge the Assembly to OVERRIDE THE MAYOR’S VETO…unanimously.

    Thank everyone who is reading this and opening both your heart and your mind.

    Comment: Voice Crying in the Wilderness – 18. August 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  4. Thank you for all your hard work!

    Comment: Laura Carpenter – 18. August 2009 @ 2:03 pm

  5. Mr. Flynn,
    Thank you for your reasoned support for the ordinance. Too often these arguments are fueled by hysteria and fearful doomsayers. People have noting to fear from an ordinance that supports our own Bill of Rights, which simply states that All Men Are Created Equal. If the override were to pass, it would not affect the majority of Anchorage citizens one bit, our lives would go on as normal, but we would know that all segments of our society have equal access to the American Dream and are free from discrimination. ~AJ

    Comment: AJ Hayton – 21. August 2009 @ 11:03 am

  6. Apparently anything is on the table for the right price. Are we seriously considering giving a lifestyle special rights because it will increase the city’s tax revenue? I want a hand out for my lifestyle. What else is for sale? If that is the case I hear that pedophiles “tend to be well-educated with more disposable income.” Let’s make Anchorage a pedophile friendly city. I’ll bet we get a big boost in tourism for that demographic. They certainly are a group that has been discriminated against. After all we want to, “promote Anchorage as being a people-friendly destination,“ and pedophiles are people too. If we are lucky we can get more of them to move up from the lower 48 and increase our tax base. And you thought the federal government’s stimulus plan was ill advised.

    Since money seems to be the object of this argument for a sexual orientation ordinance consider this, what about the lost revenue from the values voters? Anchorage is a midsized city that can boast that it hasn’t been overrun with typical big city problems. I have been to cities that cater to immoral lifestyles. Bourbon Street in New Orleans earns its share of profits and the free flowing drugs of Amsterdam certainly attract a crowd with money to spend. These are very gay and transgender friendly cities. But, I have also seen the consequence of that money. Those places don’t rank high on the family vacation and retired traveler charts not to mention the crime rate there. The cost to small businesses to implement this social experiment has already been acknowledged by Mr. Flynn. A superficial change to the ordinance is not enough to overcome that huge pitfall. Also consider people who work in Anchorage and may be thinking about buying a home there. Upon hearing that the city government values homosexual business more than theirs, that commute from the valley starts looking better and better.

    Comment: voice of reason – 31. August 2009 @ 3:06 am

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