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Alaska lawmakers apologize for laughter at question on civil unions

Monday, February 18, 2013
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JUNEAU, Alaska — Leaders of the Alaska House apologized Monday for the laughter that erupted from some caucus members when asked about same-sex partnerships.

During a news conference Friday to outline the caucus’ guiding principles, members were asked if they supported domestic partnerships or civil unions for same-sex couples. That drew scattered laughter.

Some websites and blogs cast this as majority members laughing off or laughing at the idea of civil unions.

In a statement Monday, House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt (R-Anchorage), and House Speaker Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski), called the reaction inappropriate.

Chenault said it is clear “from the totality of the response and circumstances the laughter was in reaction to which legislator had to field the difficult question, and did not go to the merits of the issue. Regardless, laughter was not appropriate and for that we sincerely apologize.”

Pruitt said it was a serious question and issue, just not something the caucus had taken a position on.

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The GOP-led caucus identified its guiding principles as affordable energy, building a strong economy, fiscal responsibility, education reform and workforce development and healthy communities.

Pruitt said Friday that the issue of same-sex partnerships did not come up during discussion of the principles. He said the GOP-led caucus focused on things that allow people to “have a great life,” including issues related to the economy and opportunities for Alaskans.

He said there was not a discussion on “what happens inside your home.”

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