MEDIA CONTINUES TO PERPETUATE MYTH
Gov. Mike Dunleavy reiterated today that the State of Alaska has no policy to deny Permanent Fund dividends to Alaskans just because they are in a gay marriage.
“The PFD should go to all eligible Alaskans regardless of their marital status,” Dunleavy wrote in a statement, the second such statement to come from the administration in the past two weeks.
“Despite recent media reports to the contrary, neither the State of Alaska nor the Department of Revenue have a policy of denying PFDs based on same-sex marital status. The State’s policy is that the unconstitutional statute currently on the books is not enforced, and if an individual is eligible under all the lawful criteria, he or she will receive a PFD,” said the statement from the Governor’s Office.
Dunleavy can only speak for his own administration, which has been responsible for dispensing the PFD for just one cycle. He can’t speak for the prior administrations and how they have handled same-sex marriages since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014 struck down Alaska constitutional provision that recognizes marriage as between one man and one woman.
Earlier this year, a woman who is married to a member of the military and is living with her wife out of state, received a letter from the Permanent Fund Division that stated she had been out of state for too long to qualify for her PFD. Once the division learned she was married to a service person stationed in Florida, the division sent a letter of correction, saying she is in “payable” status. But the check was not sent to the woman because the Division could not get her to respond and say what to what address her check should be sent.
“After learning about the erroneous denial of one individual’s PFD, the Division remedied the matter in early November. That individual nevertheless subsequently filed a lawsuit in federal court. Any further questions about the lawsuit should be directed to the Department of Law,” the Governor’s Office said in a statement.
The Department of Revenue is encouraging anyone who believes they were denied a dividend based on his or her marital status to come forward so the mistake can be corrected.
Meanwhile, media reports continue to spread the narrative that the Dunleavy Administration is trying to prevent those dividends from going out. This week, a story in Slate.com perpetuated the myth that started with the lawsuit filed in November by the woman in question, with a headline stating “Alaska appears to be covering up illegal discrimination against same-sex couples.”
Even Alaska Public Media continues the narrative with its latest reporting, in which it allowed an unnamed state worker to claim that “As many as seven people were initially denied their 2019 Permanent Fund dividends because they’re married to same-sex members of the military or students living outside the state, according to an anonymous state worker quoted in newly filed court documents.”
Last week, the Department of Law published its own statement denying that the state was withholding dividends to people based on marital status.