Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly (R), who oversees Alaska’s second largest city, vetoed legislation Friday that would grant anti-discrimination protections to the LGBTQ community.
Matherly said he intends to put the legislation, which the city council approved by a 4-2 margin, on the ballot in October and leave its fate to city residents, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
“I do not take this action lightly… As with most concepts, the details become challenging when they affect so many people with different priorities and opinions. It is those details that I think require further examination,” Matherly said in a column to the News-Miner.
The law would have protected LGBTQ members from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations and would have provided an avenue for people to bring discriminatory complaints to court.
A small majority of people who testified before the city council vote said they oppose the legislation. The city council has the ability to override the mayor’s veto, though it would need to schedule a vote within 14 days and get five members to support such a measure.
Supporters of the law planned to hold a vigil Friday evening in Fairbanks.
“The arguments against the ordinance were based on fear and misunderstanding,” Hayden Nevill, who founded the Fairbanks-based group Gender Pioneers, wrote in a statement to the News-Miner. “It’s disheartening that Mr. Matherly has chosen to legitimize fear instead of legitimizing people.”
“The arguments against the ordinance were based on fear and misunderstanding. It’s disheartening that Mr. Matherly has chosen to legitimize fear instead of legitimizing people,” he added.