‘Sad day for democracy': Mayor vetoes Alaska city’s newly passed LGBTQ protections – NBCNews.com

Just days after the city council of Fairbanks, Alaska, voted in favor of an LGBTQ anti-discrimination ordinance, the city’s mayor announced he plans to veto the measure.

“I do not take this action lightly,” Fairbanks Mayor Jim Matherly stated in a letter addressed to the city’s residents. “I became a sponsor of Ordinance 6093 because I believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, and the concept behind this Ordinance is sound. As with most concepts, the details become challenging when they affect so many people with different priorities and opinions.”

Mayor Jim Matherly, City of Fairbanks, Alaska.City of Fairbanks

Following months of debate, Fairbanks passed on Monday Ordinance 6093, which extends protections in employment, housing and public accommodations to those discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. If Matherly had not decided to use his veto power, the council’s 4-2 vote would have made Fairbanks the fourth city in Alaska with an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law on the books, following Anchorage, Juneau and Sitka.

Shortly after Monday’s council vote, Council Member Kathy Ottersten told NBC News Matherly had “said on many occasions that he wants this to be a unanimous vote.” In order to have been veto-proof, five members of the council would have had to vote for the ordinance.

Shoshana Rock Kun, one of the four council members who voted in favor of Ordinance 6093, said she was “surprised” by Matherly’s veto following hours of public comment in the weeks leading up to the city council vote. Kun told NBC News that “80 percent” of those who weighed in supported the measure.

“It is a sad day for democracy,” Kun said. “The mayor has essentially wasted taxpayer dollars and resources by not following the majority of constituents that spoke up regarding the need for equal protection.”

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