Friday
January 20, 2006
SGN.org
Volume 34
Issue 03
 
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THIS IS OUR YEAR
THIS IS OUR YEAR
by Brie Gyncild - ERW Board Co-Chair

The Washington State Legislature opened its 2006 session last week, on January 9, and the media has been abuzz about the anti-discrimination bill ever since. We knew the bill would get attention, following the dramatic Senate vote last year and national coverage of the controversy. But the bill gained even more momentum than we expected.

On January 10, Senator Bill Finkbeiner of Kirkland, a Republican who voted against us last year, issued a written statement in support of the bill. Senator Finkbeiner's statement was a courageous move. The bill lost by a single vote on the Senate floor in 2005. When Senator Finkbeiner stepped down from his role as Senate Minority Leader, there was speculation that he'd support our bill this year. However, legislators rarely issue written commitments when they change their positions.

The statement spoke to the importance of the anti-discrimination bill and called on the legislature to pass it after 30 years of attempts. Included in his statement was the recognition of our humanity:

"Real people are affected by this issue: our friends, our co-workers, our family members, our neighbors. I don't agree with the politicization of people's personal lives and I think it is time to move on."

Amen.

We thank Senator Finkbeiner for his bold statement, and for his support of the bill. We hope other Republican Senators who felt constrained to a party-line vote in 2005 will join Senator Finkbeiner to pass this bill-not by one vote, but by many, in a truly bi-partisan effort. Basic rights such as the right to keep a job, rent a home, or secure a loan at a fair rate are not Democratic or Republican issues. All people deserve such rights; all parties should work together to defend them.

A coalition of major employers in Washington State, including Boeing, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Corbis, Nike, Real Networks, and Vulcan, sent a strong letter to the legislature in support of HB 2661. Newspapers around the state are writing editorials in support of HB 2661. Articles about the bill and its chances are appearing daily. This is the hot issue in Olympia this year, and with a final push, we can finally win.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Support from Senator Finkbeiner, businesses, and editorial boards provides hope and momentum, but it doesn't offer us a guarantee. We know that those who oppose equality are threatened by the support we've been receiving. Our opponents are actively working to turn some of last year's "yes" votes into "no" votes this year, and we've learned that many legislators are hearing from more opponents of the bill than supporters. Every Senator needs to hear from constituents about the importance of passing this bill. We still need everyone - whether you live in an urban or rural area, on Capitol Hill or in Kent - to call your Senator and urge her or him to vote yes on HB 2661and to be supportive in ensuring that it comes to a vote on the Senate floor.

Call the legislative hotline at 800-562-6000 to tell your Senator and your Representatives to support HB 2661.

Then, urge friends and family all over the state to call the same number to urge their Senators and Representatives to support HB 266.

COME TO OLYMPIA

We're going to make history this year, and you can be part of it. Join us Monday, January 23, in Olympia to demonstrate strong statewide support for the anti-discrimination bill. January 23 is Equality Day, time for a massive rally on the Capitol steps and small groups meeting with individual legislators. Every Senator needs to meet with constituents on Monday to see how much this means to us. And we need a strong showing on the Capitol steps to show the people of Washington State that we're standing for equality.

Advocacy workshops start at 9 a.m. in Olympia; the rally is at 11:45 on the Capitol steps. We're meeting with legislators in the afternoon. Come for the rally or join us for the full day.

To get help with transportation, register for advocacy workshops, or volunteer, visit www.equalrightswashington.org or call 206-324-2570.

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