By the Washington State LGBT Legislative Caucus
Washington has been blessed for many years to have strong leaders from our community in the state legislature who helped make our state a leader in establishing and protecting the rights of LGBT people. Senators Cal Anderson, Ed Murray, and Joe McDermott and Representatives Dave Upthegrove, Jim Moeller, Mary Helen Roberts, and Brady Walkinshaw served with distinction and helped to accomplish hate crimes protections, a fully inclusive law against discrimination, domestic partnership and marriage equality, and equal parentage rights. We stand on their shoulders and benefit from many years of work and carefully cultivated relationships.
After the alarming election last fall, much that we had taken for granted seems to be at risk for our community – as well as for people of color, immigrants, women, and members of other historically disfavored groups. All of us need to stand together to make sure that the arc of history continues to bend toward justice for all people.
The 2017 Washington legislature includes seven openly LGBT members: Senators Jamie Pedersen
and Marko Liias
and Representatives Laurie Jinkins
, Joan McBride
, Chris Kilduff
, Nicole Macri
, and Beth Doglio
. We are delighted to welcome Beth as our first openly bisexual member! All of us are strongly committed to continuing the ongoing struggle for safety, dignity, and full equality for all members of our community. We have been meeting regularly with community advocates, including GSBA, Pride Foundation, Legal Voice, the ACLU of Washington, Equal Rights Washington, Washington Won’t Discriminate, Ingersoll Gender Center, the SAFE Alliance, Gender Justice League, and many others to defend our hard-fought rights in the upcoming session and to plan for a time when we can once again lead the country with pro-LGBT legislation.
Our opponents have already introduced legislation to overturn the Human Rights Commission’s rule protecting the ability of transgender people to use restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity. We expect that they will also promote legislation that creates exemptions to our strong law against discrimination based on the religious views of the people discriminating.
By contrast, we will be working on legislation to reduce bullying of LGBT youth; to prohibit “conversion therapy”; to further the ability of same-sex couples to become parents; and to facilitate the certification of LGBT-owned businesses. With Republicans in control of the state Senate this year, none of this will be easy. But we will not stop fighting until we succeed in protecting the rights and dignity of everyone.