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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

Equal Rights/Equal Benefits: An Exploration of Domestic Partner Benefits and Employment Protections in Alaska\'s Private Sector

Status Current
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 11/01/2009
End Date 06/30/2010
Funding Source Undergraduate Research in the Community Grant
Funding Amount
Community Partner ACLU of Alaska
Related Course
Last Updated 01/12/2010 01:27PM
Keywords equal rights


  Diane Hirshberg

Student Researchers
  Katie Marquette


Issues regarding anti-harassment policies in the work place and, in particular, the identification of sexual orientation as a protected class under these policies are currently at the center of an ongoing conversation in the Municipality of Anchorage. On August 11, 2009, the Anchorage Municipal Assembly amended and approved AO No. 2009-64 (S-2), a city ordinance that included sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class in prohibiting "discrimination in the sale or rental or real property, financing practices, employment practices, public accommodations, educational institutions, and practices of the municipality" (Anchorage Municipality, 2009). This ordinance, however, was vetoed on August 17, 2009, by acting city Mayor Dan Sullivan. Mayor Sullivan defended his choice of vetoing the ordinance by stating that "there is clearly a lack of quantifiable evidence necessitating this ordinance" and that "those who communicated their position on the ordinance are in opposition" (Sullivan, 2009).

For my spring 2010 Research in the Community project, I plan to extend my work on the issue of sexual orientation protections in Alaska's private business sector. In particular, I will investigate which private organizations, both in Anchorage and throughout the state, protect the classes of sexual orientation and gender identity on anti-harassment policies and the overall benefits and costs of making such decisions. This issue has been widely talked about on both a state and national level and I believe that it is necessary to develop a better understanding of its implications on a business level, in order to develop a stronger basis of community awareness. By conducting in-depth qualitative interviews with a group of human resource representatives from Alaska's private sector, I will compile data that allows us to develop a better understanding of the need for protections of sexual orientation and gender identity in our work force. Through my previous research experience in this field and strong support from community partners, I will be able to successfully use the funds allotted by the Research in the Community Grant for this project.

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