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April 28, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 17
 
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A Multi-faceted Political Agenda
A Multi-faceted Political Agenda
When Equal Rights Washington created its legislative agenda for 2006, getting the anti-discrimination bill passed in the legislature was at the top of the list. We won that victory, working in partnership with many other community organizations, allied legislators, and Governor Gregoire. But as you know, no sooner had we raised a toast to progress than Tim Eyman began collecting signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. Voters will need to approve the referendum in November to keep the anti-discrimination law in place.

Now, winning the referendum battle is at the top of ERW's political agenda. We know that there are Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Bisexual people in Washington state who are afraid to come out at work or who go apartment-hunting without their partners because they fear discrimination. The new law sets a tone of respect for all people, regardless of sexual orientation. It's an important milestone for the LGBT community, but it's far from revolutionary. The state already had an anti-discrimination law, which protected people of different races, sexes, physical abilities, nationalities, ages, marital status, and other categories from discrimination in housing, employment, lending, and insurance.

We're also not the first state to do this. In fact, we follow 16 other states, most recently Maine, which defended its law in a referendum battle last November. In none of these states have LGBT people acquired special rights or unique status because of similar laws. Instead, they've been treated fairly in the workplace and the housing market.

WASHINGTON WON'T DISCRIMINATE

Equal Rights Washington is working closely with the Washington Won't Discriminate campaign to win the referendum in November. In fact, we're lending our political director to the effort. John Vezina is turning his full attention to the campaign and serving as its campaign manager. He'll return to his usual broad range of duties at ERW in November, fresh from victory at the polls. With a solid win in November, we'll be in a stronger position for the 2007 legislative session.

ERW has been active in the campaign since its inception. We joined with other organizations and community leaders as founding members, and we're excited by all the support the campaign is gaining from allied organizations. We'll continue to work closely with the campaign, serving on its executive committee, distributing information, and engaging ERW Equality Teams in campaign work.

MARRIAGE AND ELECTIONS

Meanwhile, ERW continues to pursue the rest of its political agenda, as well. As Washington Won't Discriminate focuses on winning the referendum battle, ERW will also be working to secure marriage equality-laying the groundwork across the state in preparation for a decision, and then mobilizing our supporters to ensure that we can block any efforts to amend the state constitution or to compromise on civil unions instead of full marriage equality.

Much of ERW's work depends on the legislature, so we're working hard to elect fair-minded representatives and senators to serve in Olympia. We are fortunate to have some good allies there already, and with your help, we'll have a few more when the 2007 legislative session begins in January.

In Washington State, we elect Supreme Court Justices, so ERW is working with other progressive organizations to elect justices who demonstrate a firm commitment to equality and upholding constitutional protections.

IT TAKES A COMMUNITY

There is much work to be done this year, and in the years to come. To win these efforts, we need the community working with us. Our members bring us clout, energy, and the resources we need to get the job done. To join Equal Rights Washington, visit our website at www.equalrightswashington.org. To volunteer to join an Equality Team to help organize your home community, or to help us get the word out at events across the state, email volunteer@equalrightswashington.org or call us at 206-324-2570.

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