Broad Coalition Launches Campaign to Defeat WA Anti-Trans Ballot Initiative
Law enforcement, clergy, businesses leaders, transgender Washingtonians and their families and others launched the No on I-1515 campaign at the Renton First United Methodist Church Thursday. Washington Won’t Discriminate, a broad coalition with more than 200 early endorsers, is urging voters to oppose I-1515, which would repeal the Washington State’s non-discrimination protections that, for 10 years, have helped ensure our transgender family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors are treated fairly and equally under the law.
I-1515 is similar to North Carolina’s controversial HB 2; for instance, both would ban city and county governments from passing local non-discrimination protections protecting transgender people from discrimination in public places – including in public restrooms.
“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,” said Seth Kirby, Chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate. “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.”
“I am a transgender woman, which means that I was raised as a boy, but inside I always understood fully and wholly that my deepest self is female,” said community advocate Marsha Botzer. “Privacy and safety are important to all of us, this is something I know is true. And I also know we certainly do not need to overturn ten years of perfectly good non-discrimination protections to keep people safe because those protections work. It is never okay to go in a restroom to harm or harass someone, anyone who does that should be prosecuted and held accountable. I-1515 would create a situation that violates privacy, and in addition it would put me at risk for harassment and even assault.”
Small businesses, large economic engines like Google and Vulcan, and local chambers of commerce, oppose I-1515 because it threatens our thriving economy, will make Washington a less desirable place to do business and open businesses up to costly lawsuits.
“Treating all customers and employees equally under the law has been good for business and good for Washington. My small business doesn’t need more uncertainty and the threat of lawsuits that would come with I-1515 and our state can’t afford to lose jobs or new opportunities to grow our economy,” said Kris Dinnison, a small business owner in Spokane.
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. Recently, 250 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.
“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,” said former Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick. “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.”
Washington Won’t Discriminate – the coalition to defeat I-1515 – is urging 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 Washington state.
“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,” said Rev. Bishop Kirby Unti of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “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.”