Washington Won’t Discriminate: Broad Coalition Launches to Defeat Anti-Transgender Ballot Initiative

By Adam Polaski • April 29, 2016 • 1:50 pm

This week in Washington state, a broad coalition of law enforcement officers, clergy members, businesses leaders, transgender Washingtonians and their families came together to form Washington Won’t Discriminate, which will work over the next few months to urge voters to oppose I-1515. The I-1515 ballot initiative seeks to repeal Washington’s non-discrimination protections that, for 10 years, have helped to ensure that transgender Washingtonians are protected from discrimination at work, at home, and in public spaces.

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I-1515 is similar to North Carolina’s controversial HB 2; Like HB2, I-1515 would ban city and county governments from passing local non-discrimination protections protecting transgender people from discrimination in public places — including in public restrooms.

Freedom for All Americans is proud to stand with more than a dozen state and national organizations as a founding member of Washington Won’t Discriminate. Freedom for All Americans provided communications, messaging, and digital support to the launch of the Washington Won’t Discriminate campaign. Check out the coalition’s brand new website here.

Seth Kirby, Chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate, said yesterday:

“I’m a transgender man, which means I was raised as a girl, but, inside, I’ve always known myself to be male. Eventually, I transitioned from female to male. Now I live every day as the man I’ve always known myself to be and I’m happily married to a wonderful woman. It can be hard to understand what it means to be transgender, especially if you have never met a transgender person before. What most people don’t realize is that I-1515 could force me to use public facilities designated for women, putting my own safety at risk and potentially causing discomfort and confusion for others. It would also have serious consequences for state and local governments, businesses, and taxpayers.”

The coalition officially launched on Thursday, April 28 at the Renton First United Methodist Church. Dozens of Washingtonians attended the launch event to stand against repeal of these vital protections.

Many small and large businesses are standing up against I-1515, including local chambers of commerce and economic engines like Google, Vulcan, and Microsoft. The ballot initiative threatens the state’s economy by makingWashington a less desirable place to do business and open businesses up to costly lawsuits.

I-1515 is also opposed by dozens of elected officials, including Republicans and school board members because it would require schools to violate federal laws related to transgender students—inviting costly new lawsuits against schools and state and local governments and potentially costing the state billions in federal funding for our schools and other services, putting even greater burdens on hard-working taxpayers.

The backers of I-1515 claim repealing Washington’s non-discrimination protections for transgender people is about privacy and safety, but the facts don’t support those claims. Just this month more than 300 sexual assault and domestic violence groups from around the country released a statement strongly opposing repeal of non-discrimination protections for transgender people.

Like Washington, more than 200 cities and counties and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day—without any negative impact on public safety.

Former Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick spoke at the launch event yesterday. He said:

“The truth is I-1515 will do nothing to make us safer. We’ve protected gay and transgender people from discrimination in Washington for 10 years, with no increase in public safety incidents as a result. It’s important to remember that indecent exposure, voyeurism, and sexual assault, are already illegal and police use those laws to keep people safe and hold offenders accountable. We can protect public safety while also protecting law abiding transgender people from discrimination in public places—including in bathrooms.”

Another speaker at the launch event yesterday was Devin, a transgender youth supported by her parents.

Rev. Bishop Kirby Unti of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, also added to the event yesterday. He said in a statement, “As a Christian, I believe in loving our neighbors as ourselves and treating others the way we want to be treated, including those who may seem different from us. And that’s what my wife and I taught our four daughters. I’m deeply troubled by I-15I5, which would roll back important non-discrimination protections for our transgender neighbors in Washington. We’re all God’s children—including people who are transgender—and we should all be treated equally under the law.”

Washington Won’t Discriminate urges Washington voters to oppose efforts to bring discrimination to Washington State and to help ensure all Washingtonians continue to have a fair opportunity to earn a living, frequent a business, and provide for their families free from the fear of discrimination in our state.

Join the campaign on Facebook here, and follow along on Twitter here.

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