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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 6, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 19
WASHINGTON STATE INITIATIVES 2016 and I-1515
Section One
ALL STORIES
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WASHINGTON STATE INITIATIVES 2016 and I-1515

by Janice Van Cleve - Special to the SGN

Washington state is one of the loosest states when it comes to filing initiatives. We are so loose that people like Tim Eyman can make a business out of filing these things. In fact, this year no less than 150 initiatives were filed with the Secretary of State. Of those, 77 were from Tim Eyman. He has withdrawn 46 but that still leaves him with an incredible number of 31 initiatives in play.

Each initiative has to get at least 246,372 valid signatures to be put on the November ballot. The Secretary of State recommends 325,000 to allow for invalid signatures. Signature gathers are out in force.

Most of these folks are paid by the number of signatures they collect, so they are usually not advocates for or against any one of them. I encountered one at Trader Joe's yesterday who had 4 different initiatives.

He was very clever. He wore a sandwich board with his own summaries on it and had the actual signature sheets banded together. If you are inclined to any of these issues - Be Careful! Always unband the sheets and read what you are signing! Sneaky people might slip a bad initiative in the mix and get your signature without your knowing.

The worst initiative of the bunch is I-1515, the so-called 'Bathroom Initiative.' Six of these measures were introduced by Republicans in Olympia in the last session and they were roundly defeated. Even some sensible Republicans didn't want anything to do with them. North Carolina and Mississippi both passed their own versions of 'bathroom laws' and are already suffering a huge economic and moral backlash because of it.

The court approved ballot title is: 'Initiative Measure No. 1515 concerns gender-segregated facilities and civil liability. This measure would override state/local prohibitions against gender-identity discrimination in certain public-accommodation facilities, require that public schools restrict access to specific facilities based on sex at birth, and allow related lawsuits against schools.'

Usually reasonable sounding initiatives have devils in the details, but this one is blatantly discriminatory, overturns local jurisdictions, and is unconstitutional under Title IX of federal law even on its face. It would overturn 10 years of state law protecting sexual orientation and gender identity. It would overturn Seattle's measures that mandate gender neutral bathrooms. It would overturn business and corporate policies that accommodate gender diversity. It would even invalidate the gender neutral signs on the Washington State ferries.

Specifically I-1515 requires everyone - not just transgendered persons - to use facilities that match the gender on their birth certificates. Can you just imagine a mother sending her child off to school? 'Got your homework? Got your lunch money? Got your birth certificate?' Do you carry your birth certificate around with you? How many women - our daughters, mothers, sisters, or wives have used the men's room when the line in front of the women's room is too long? Of course, and we did it without documentation.

I-1515 goes even further. It allows anybody to challenge anybody else's gender in order to use a restroom. Store clerks can challenge customers. Police can challenge citizens. City councilmembers can challenge each other. Maybe Bigot Busters should stand outside the restrooms in the state capitol and challenge every senator and representative to see their birth certificates.

In schools, it allows kids to sue the school district if they suspect - even suspect! - that another kid is using the restroom on the basis of gender identity instead of birth certificate. Kids aren't stupid: 'I'll challenge you this week if you challenge me next week. We could clear $2,500 apiece plus damages for our psychological, emotional, and physical harm suffered.' (text from section 3.3.e)

Who dreams up initiatives like this? The sponsor of record is one Joseph Backholm of Mill Creek. He is executive director of the right-wing Family Policy Institute of Washington (www.justwantprivacy.org). Their talking points are plainly listed at www.transadvocate.com. They use photos of kids and babies to play the 'it's for the kids' card. Turn it over and see that it is really the 'playing on imaginary fears' card.

The fact is that these people need to generate imaginary fears to stay in business. They never promote positive, inclusive ideas that benefit all. They lost their wars on same sex marriage, on immigration, on drugs, on Planned Parenthood, and many others, so they looked for the smallest, most vulnerable minority to target - transgendered people. Then they pile on all kinds of innuendos and slanders to make the minority appear 'dangerous' when in fact, transgendered people are often the victims of hate and violence.

So sign on to Washington Won't Discriminate at www.wawont.org and get your friends to do the same. Chip in to support organizations that are actively working against I-1515. Don't be fooled into signing I-1515 petitions and tell your friends not to sign. But be nice to the poor schlep who is trying to make a buck gathering signatures. He or she is just in it for the money.



Janice Van Cleve is a PCO in the 37th District and political activist.

This article appears on her website at www.jvox.doodlekit.com.

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WASHINGTON STATE INITIATIVES 2016 and I-1515
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