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February 24, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 08
 
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Washington Won't Discriminate names new campaign manager
Washington Won't Discriminate names new campaign manager - SGN Exclusive
Lorrie McKay to bring extensive political experience to campaign to retain anti-discrimination law

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

Longtime Lesbian activist Lorrie McKay has been tapped to lead the effort to retain Washingtons new law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. According to Anne Levinson, Chair of Washington Wont Discriminate, McKay was selected as campaign manager of the organization after a brief, but considered process.

Im honored to have been selected, especially considering the field of qualified candidates who threw their hat in the ring, she said. However, I have no illusion of the task before me. & I absolutely think our community can meet the challenge. I think that the community as a whole, the Washington State community as a whole, can meet this challenge. This is about discrimination. People dont want to legalize discrimination against their fellow citizens. I absolutely think that our community  working in concert with the larger community; the larger coalition of progressive groups  can absolutely defeat this initiative. I look forward to the challenge.

Levinson said she was pleased with the outcome of the selection process. Lorrie is a perfect person to help lead this effort, she said. We not only want to decisively defeat any effort to rollback the civil rights of Washingtonians, we want to make sure we do so in a way that strengthens the LGBT and broader progressive community for the long run. That means we need to be both politically strategic and collaborative. She has a record of doing exactly that.

McKay said she became politically active at an early age. At Bellevue High School, she was active in an anti-apartheid organization. At Western Washington University, she fought efforts to cut funds for the center for sexual minority students and co-founded the WWU chapter of Students for Jessie Jackson during his bid for the presidency.

After college, she was recruited to coordinate a legislative campaign in Edmonds during the 1988 election cycle. McKay volunteered for Norm Rices first campaign for Seattle mayor. She also worked for a local campaign consultant, helping to elect women and progressive candidates from 1990 until 1992. She managed a bond campaign for the Seattle Public Libraries in 1994. She organized a lose network of labor unions, environmental groups and progressive orginizations in an effort to oust Jack Metcalf in the 2nd Congressional District in 1996. She also was a founding board member and volunteer for the No on 200 Campaign, which sought to preserve opportunities for racial minorities and women.

Her work on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community is equally as impressive. McKay had been the volunteer coordinator for the No on 35 Campaign, which was an effort to defend bereavement benefits for City of Seattle employees in registered domestic partnerships. She worked for the Harvey Muggy Democrats during the 1992 Presidential Election, before becoming the statewide field director for Hands Off Washington in 1993. Furthermore, she helped defeat two anti-Gay initiatives, I-608 and I-610.

She has held several positions at King County Executive Ron Sims office over the last nine years, including her most recent post as the assistant to Sims chief-of-staff. [Sims] wants to defeat discrimination at every turn. So, I think he was thrilled for me, said McKay. When I told him that I was offered the job, he looked me in the eye. He said, Take it. We need you to do a good job. We need to beat Tim Eyman and you can do it. He was very encouraging and he was very supportive.

Levinson said McKays political credentials was what Washington Wont Discriminates had been looking for in a campaign manager. Lorrie has been involved in campaigns in Washington State for more than two decades, both professionally and as a volunteer, she said. She brings broad expertise in political organizing together with a lifelong commitment to equal justice and healthy communities. With her experience and relationships, she can get started without missing a beat. We are excited to have her aboard.

Tina Podlodowski, executive director of Lifelong AIDS Alliance and former Seattle City Councilmember, applauded the decision to hire McKay. Over ten years ago Lorrie and I worked together at Hands Off Washington, where she was the statewide field director, she said. We were successful in keeping Oregon-style Lon Mabon-esque initiatives off the Washington ballot, and Lorrie was critical to that success. Lorrie knows what it takes to get this work done and will build a strong coalition.

Likewise, Herb Krohn, a longtime political activist on LGBT issues and former co-chair of the Seattle Municipal Elections Committee commended the decision. I am very pleased with the choice, he said. I am very happy they chose someone who has experience with Washington State, knows the history of the area and understands the political landscape. I think that is crucial. She is probably one of the few people who can hit the ground running with this type of campaign. State Rep. Ed Murray, the primary sponsor of the anti-discrimination legislation for the last 11 years, said Lorrie is well equipped to avoid any political land mines. She has political sense, he said. She knows how to work with the very diverse and sometimes contentious groups that make up the GLBT community. The antidiscrimination legislation had passed the state Senate by a vote of 25-23 last month. Democrats had not attached an emergency clause to the bill, which left the bill open to a repeal effort by its foes. Tim Eyman, who is best known for his $30 car tab initiative, introduced two ballot measures even before the bill had been signed. Initiatives require about 225,000 voter signatures to quality for the ballot, but a referendum would require haft of that.

What we need right now is for people to sign up to make themselves known to the campaign and to endorse the campaign. & We also need to talk to everyone we know and talk to them about Eymans effort, said McKay. If you are able to make a donation of any size, just start building a cache of money. We will need to wage a campaign on many levels to defeat the far right. & We need to register as many people as we can to vote and be visible at all sorts of events. Just will keep building the coalition and making ourselves stronger.

We have a fabulous rich history of being able to pull ourselves together to fight this stuff. We just need to build on our past and & be prepared to go the distance through November.

For more information about Washington Wont Discriminate, visit: www.washingtonwontdiscriminate.org

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