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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 15, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 16
WA state's anti-Trans initiatives:
Judge rules against bigots on ballot language
Section One
ALL STORIES
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WA state's anti-Trans initiatives:
Judge rules against bigots on ballot language

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A superior court judge has ruled against sponsors of a series of anti-Trans initiatives in Washington, leaving the state attorney general's description of their ballot measures more or less intact.

Local LGBT activists said they were 'deeply pleased' with the judge's decision.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson is charged with writing the descriptions of ballot initiatives that appear in voter guides and statewide ballots. His description of the measures designed to prohibit Trans people from using gender-appropriate restrooms did not meet the approval of the initiatives' sponsors, so they sued to get more appealing language on the ballot.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Anne Hirsch ruled against them on April 13.

The ballot summary will now read as follows - depending on which of several initiatives ultimately qualify for the ballot:

'Initiative Measure No. 1504, 1505, 1506, 1507, and 1508 concern gender-segregated facilities and civil liability.

'This measure would repeal protections against gender-identity discrimination in certain public-accommodation facilities, require that public schools restrict use of specific facilities based on anatomy or chromosomal sex, and allow student lawsuits against schools.'

The explanation of the measures that will accompany them will now read:

'This measure would repeal Human Rights Commission rules interpreting the Law Against Discrimination as allowing people to use gender-segregated facilities based on gender-identity, restrict similar local laws, and state that, with exceptions, the law does not require allowing 'private facilities' based on gender identity. It requires that use of certain public-school facilities be restricted based on birth anatomy or chromosomes, and authorizes lawsuits against schools that grant students access to those facilities based on gender identity.'

Veteran anti-LGBT activist and head of the Family Policy Institute Joseph Backholm complained that the attorney general's ballot language was not 'neutral' as it was supposed to be.

Backhom specifically objected to the phrases 'would repeal' and 'authorizes lawsuits against schools' because they sounded negative, even if they were true. Backholm wanted to add language that mentioned 'enforcing a right to privacy.'

His organization, the Family Policy Institute, also objected to the terms 'segregated' and 'civil liability,' because both terms had negative connotations.

After Judge Hirsch's ruling, however, all the language Backholm objected to will remain in the official descriptions.

Activists 'deeply pleased' Activists working to defend Trans rights said they were delighted by the ruling, although they expect future court fights before the November elections.

'Thanks to our brilliant attorneys and our fine Community!' Ingersoll Center founder Marsha Botzer said. 'It is getting a bit harder to be an opponent of fair, just, and inclusive law. And we all are becoming wiser to the deceptive ways used by our opponents - the way they turn meanings upside down in an Orwellian flourish, attempting to change persecute into protect.'

'Never quit fighting this madness, for surely there is more to come,' Botzer warned.

'I am deeply pleased that Judge Hirsch assigned a fair and accurate ballot title to Initiatives 1504-1508 so that the voters of Washington will clearly understand that they are being asked to repeal 10-year-old antidiscrimination protections for transgender people and to create a 'bounty' of $2,500 should classmates find Transgender students in a school bathroom,' Gender Justice League Executive Director Danni Askini told SGN.

'Our opponents have made bald-faced lies, used offensive stereotypes, and made some of the most mean-spirited attacks against Transgender people I have seen. Judge Hirsch saw right through their cynical arguments and rejected every single one; she even adopted our suggested language on student lawsuits.

'While this isn't the end of the struggle over the ballot measure, we put a major dent in their plans to move forward. We will continue to fight them every step of the way to ensure that all Washingtonians are able to live their lives safely, true to themselves, and free from violence and discrimination.'

David Ward, Legal & Legislative Counsel for Legal Voice, added, 'Ballot title language should be clear, honest, and accurate so voters understand what they are voting on. We hope the court-approved language will help voters understand that this initiative repeals our state's discrimination protections, which have been in place for 10 years.'

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WA state's anti-Trans initiatives:
Judge rules against bigots on ballot language

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