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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 12, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 07
Victory! State Senate votes down 'Bathroom Bill'
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Victory! State Senate votes down 'Bathroom Bill'

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Washington state Senate voted down SB 6443, otherwise known as the 'Bathroom Bill,' by the narrowest of margins on February 10.

The vote in the Republican-controlled Senate was 25 against and 24 in favor, with three Republicans voting No and two Democrats joining the rest of the Republicans to vote Yes.

The bill would have repealed a recent ruling by the Washington State Human Rights Commission that Transgender individuals can use public restrooms that correspond to their gender identity. The measure would also have barred the Human Rights Commission from making any future rules about restrooms or locker rooms.

Republicans Steve Litzow, Andy Hill, and Joe Fain voted against the legislation, giving the No side its majority. All three come from King County districts and all three also broke ranks with their Republican colleagues to vote for marriage equality in 2012.

Conservative Democratic Senators Jim Hargrove and Tim Sheldon voted Yes. Both also voted against the 2012 Marriage Equality Act.

Republican lawmakers, their conservative Democratic allies, and right-wing pressure groups like the Family Policy Institute made restrictions on the civil rights of Trans people a key policy objective in this year's legislative session. The defeat of SB 6443 is a major setback to those plans.

'Tears of happiness'
Local LGBT activists reacted to the good news with jubilation.

'24 yays, 25 NAYS!!! YAYA YAYAYYAYAY,' Gender Justice League Executive Director Danni Askini Tweeted from the Capitol in Olympia.

Activist Brianna Schuman said she 'cried tears of happiness' as she watched the Senate proceedings on TVW.

'Transgender people are in a fight for our very existence to be recognized as our authentic selves,' she added. 'These bills are nothing short of an attempt to erase our existence....

'Hearing the legislators opposing the bill speak and defend my right to exist and live as my authentic self was beautiful. Thirty-five years of fighting to figure out who I am was long enough. Today 25 legislators in my state voted to strike down a bill to take away my rights, and in doing so they told me I matter. I exist. That is all I've ever wanted.'

'The struggle goes on'
'We are grateful to the Senators who voted to preserve civil rights that have been law in Washington for a decade,' GSBA President Louise Chernin said.

'This bill would have been harmful to the LGBT population in general, but most especially Transgender Washingtonians. SB 6443 would have marked Washington as an unfriendly place to do business, and so this is a win for a community committed to diversity and respect.'

Chernin helped organize the SAFE Alliance in opposition to anti-Trans proposals in Olympia.

The Pride Foundation's Kris Hermanns, who also was part of the SAFE Alliance, said she was 'grateful for the bi-partisan support of 25 Senators who recognized the harm that SB 6443 would have caused to Washingtonians, especially Transgender people.

'Their courageous leadership affirms that our state values dignity and safety for all by upholding existing anti-discrimination laws. And I am humbled by the transgender people and parents of transgender children who took great risks to share their powerful stories - they were critical in this win and will continue to be for what lies ahead.'

Ingersoll Center founder Marsha Botzer expressed 'full thanks to all those who helped good sense and good law win against the blatant pandering to fear that brought this awful bill against us!

'Thanks to Representative Laurie Jinkins [who blocked SB 6443's companion bill in the House]! To our community, the SAFE Alliance, Equal Rights Washington, to every person who took a stand with us, and to the three brave Republicans who voted with us!' Botzer continued.

'The struggle goes on, we know it will. But we are correct to choose humanity over fearful dogma. We will win.'

'See you in November'
'We are grateful that our oppositions' baseless, fear-based attacks against the Transgender community failed in a Senate that, today, valued justice and equity over partisanship,' Equal Rights Washington Executive Director Monisha Harrell said.

While SB 6443 has been disposed of, other anti-Trans legislation is still pending in Olympia, and Republicans are threatening to make Transgender rights an issue in the November election.

'It looks like the new 'let men in women's bathroom' rule DOES apply to schools,' Rep. Matt Manweller of Ellensburg Tweeted. 'Nice job, Dems. Repeal the rule now or we'll see you in November.'

Harrell said that ERW was prepared to fend off future attacks on the LGBT community.

'Sessions like this are exactly why Equal Rights Washington maintains a strong presence in Olympia,' she said.

'The LGBTQ community cannot afford to be complacent about preserving our rights and continuing to fight for those who have yet to achieve equity. We know this battle isn't over, and we remain prepared to stand our ground and protect our rights.'

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Victory! State Senate votes down 'Bathroom Bill'
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