Sean Parnell

America’s Rape State

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R)

A note at the outset: This is Alaska, after all. Not that such a point should provide any comfort. Rather, quite the opposite. Still, though, as appalling as the situation might be, it’s just another day on the Last Frontier.

The Alaska National Guard is facing down some grave allegations: A recruiter trying to give alcohol to high school girls, botched responses to sexual assault complaints, embezzlement, a former porn company owner keeping his job despite military investigators finding that he failed to respond to sexual assault, and whistleblowers terrified to speak out.

The alleged misconduct, detailed in an assessment by the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations and in investigations by local news outlets, is threatening the re-election bid of incumbent Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R). The governor, who is commander in chief of the Guard, fired three top officials from the military unit this week. His office has said that he took action each time he was made aware of misconduct, and that he was ultimately misled by his top general.

But Parnell’s critics—including whistleblowers and victims—claim that his office failed to do enough to respond to allegations of abuse over several years. Local news outlets are now suing the governor’s office to get access to internal emails that may show how much Parnell knew about the allegations, and what he did in response.

(Liebelson)

A question for Governor Parnell:

While it is easy enough to imagine that the brass might wish to downplay the number of sex crimes in the Alaska National Guard, what is your threshold insofar as we might understand the minimum number of sexual assaults before you find the behavior problematic?

What’s the number, Governor? Five? Ten? Is it greater than one?

And what are the criteria? Is groping “no problem”, while coerced oral sex is only “kinda problematic”? How about forced vaginal intercourse? Is that not so bad, from a gubernatorial point of view, as forced anal sex? At what point, Governor Parnell, do you decide this is actually a problem you need to do something about?

No, really.

The Last Frontier is also America’s Rape State.

And no, Governor, you should not be proud of your contribution to that title.

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Liebelson, Dana. “Alaska National Guard Sex Abuse Scandal Threatens GOP Governor’s Re-election”. The Huffington Post. 22 October 2014.

Alaska, Losing

Detail of the Seal of the State of Alaska

Perhaps the biggest mystery of the recent judicial avalanche in favor of marriage equality is the absence of Article IV in what are clearly Article IV cases. Consider Hamby v. Parnell, a case striking Alaska’s marriage ban.

Perhaps it is the lack of an Article IV claim, as opposed to Judge Heyburn’s decision in Kentucky that intentionally bypassed the Full Faith and Credit Clause of Article IV. Still, though, Judge Timothy M. Burgess, appointed to the District of Alaska by President George W. Bush, finds his way through to strike the ban according to Due Process and Equal Protection under Amendment XIV. Still, though, in a case in which four couples are demanding their marriages from other states be recognized in Alaska, it would seem Full Faith and Credit should be a glaring issue.

To take an example, my father has been married twice, once each to different women. In his first marriage, the couple lived in three different states and a foreign country over the years. They never had to remarry in any of those jurisdictions; the Washington state marriage was sufficient, an act and record of one state recognized in another. In his second marriage, the couple has lived in two states and spent an extended period in Mexico. They did not have to remarry in any other jurisdiction; their Oregon marriage sufficed for other states and, indeed, other countries. This, ultimately, is what is at stake. Perhaps Article IV won’t come into it until a state refuses another state’s marital record in order to force the couple to repeat the ceremony and pay out for licensing in the new state.

The bottom line, however, is that another state’s marriage ban has collapsed under constitutional weight. This much, at least, is hardly mysterious.

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Burgess, Timothy S. “Order”. Hamby v. Parnell. United States District Court for the District of Alaska. 12 October 2014.