A ballot initiative to repeal Washington State’s 10-year-old non-discrimination law protecting our transgender friends, co-workers and family members is back again. Similar bills and initiatives are popping up in other states including Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. North Carolina’s HB2 cost the state’s economy more than $600 million in 2016, according to Forbes.
Last year, backers of I-1515 failed to turn in enough signatures to qualify for last year’s fall election ballot after facing a solid wall of opposition from big names like Amazon and Microsoft, faith leaders, law enforcement and victims’ safety groups. Now they are back again with another effort to roll back non-discrimination protections for transgender people.
“Washingtonians sent a clear message last year – we won’t discriminate,” said Seth Kirby, a transgender man and Chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate. “Voters didn’t buy the pitch that repealing our state’s non-discrimination protections for transgender people would somehow make us safer. Washingtonians value fairness and equality and we believe that everyone in our state should be able to earn a living, frequent a business, earn an education, and raise a family free from the fear of discrimination.”
Washington Won’t Discriminate is a broad coalition of more than 500 law enforcement, clergy, business leaders, violence prevent groups and others opposing efforts to roll back our state’s non-discrimination protections.
Since launching less than one year ago:
- More than 51,000 people became Washington Won’t Discriminate supporters, volunteers, and activists.
- More than 600 individuals donated to the No on I-1515 campaign at an average of $97/each.
- More than 200 big and small businesses and labor unions from around the state quickly rallied to oppose I-1515, including Amazon, WA State Labor Council, Microsoft, Group Health, Google, Facebook, Expedia, Vulcan, AT&T, Dow Chemical, Washington Education Association, and many more.
- Faith leaders, including Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Kirby Unti, and law enforcement officials, such as former Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick raised moral and safety objections to I-1515.
- Editorial boards, including the Seattle Times, Everett Herald, the Olympian and Tacoma News Tribune, urged opposition to I-1515
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 negative impacts on public safety.
“I’ve devoted my career to preventing sexual violence in our community and there is nothing more important to me than ensuring our community is safe. I expect voters to decline to sign any initiative which would do nothing to make us safer and instead would cause serious unintended consequences for the privacy and safety of all of us by encouraging more discrimination and harassment,” said Andrea Piper-Wentland, Director of Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs.
Washington Won’t Discriminate will continue to mobilize public support for protecting our state’s non-discrimination laws from attack.