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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 13, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 20
Washington Won't Discriminate gearing up to fight I-1515
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Washington Won't Discriminate gearing up to fight I-1515

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Although it's not certain that I-1515 will qualify for the November ballot, it's no time to be complacent, leaders of Washington Won't Discriminate told supporters on a May 11 conference call.

Washington Won't Discriminate is the organization set up to fight the initiative, which, if it qualifies for the ballot and is passed by voters, would take away key civil rights protections from the Transgender community.

It's no coincidence, campaign chair Seth Kirby told the conference call, that the group shares its name with a 2006 organization created to fight a right-wing initiative to repeal the Anderson-Murray civil rights bill passed that year.

'The name preserves 10 years of history, and we're fighting to maintain 10 years of civil rights [protections],' he said.

The 2006 attack on LGBT rights legislation - which explicitly included protections for the Trans community - failed to get on the ballot. To qualify for the November ballot, groups pushing I-1515 must turn in some 246,000 signatures on or before July 8.

Kirby, who is also Executive Director of the Oasis Youth Center in Tacoma, said that even if I-1515 does not qualify for the ballot, the anti-Trans campaign still endangers the community and still requires a response.

'Whether or not it's on the ballot,' Kirby told supporters, 'we have to be able to respond if there are issues in next legislative session.

'This campaign is the first of many steps as people learn who Trans people are and how we live our lives.'

Immediately, Washington Won't Discriminate will start to 'build out and broaden the campaign,' Kirby said, by recruiting a campaign steering committee and training speakers and door-to-door canvassers.

'One thing we've learned is that one-on-one conversations make all the difference,' he said. 'They make people feel more comfortable talking about Trans rights and how we live our lives.'

Among the next steps, Kirby said, would be to gather endorsements from other organizations. He also called on supporters to help out.

'Friend us on Facebook and share posts with your friends,' he suggested. 'Volunteer and talk with your friends and family. Host trainings with your organization, faith community, or business.'

The Pride Foundation's Kris Hermanns hosted the conference call, and added that the SAFE Alliance, which was formed in January to push back against legislation to repeal Trans rights, would stay in existence to do public education work.

Before Kirby spoke, attorney David Ward of Legal Voice outlined the consequences if I-1515 qualifies for the ballot and passes.

'In some ways it is stricter than North Carolina,' he warned. North Carolina is now being sued by the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) over its state law repealing civil rights protections for LGBT residents.

If I-1515 passes it would repeal civil rights protections that have been in place since 2006, Ward said. Even worse would be the preemptive provisions that would prohibit municipalities and other public entities like schools and colleges from making rules that protect Trans people in the future.

Finally, I-1515 would mandate that the state's K-12 schools strictly segregate restrooms according to gender assigned at birth. According to federal authorities, this violates federal civil rights laws and could cost the state $4.5 billion in funding from the national government.

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SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW:
ACLU-WA Deputy Legal Director Jennifer Shaw
I-1515 is illegal, ACLU attorney says

------------------------------
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