by Matt Landers, Public Policy Manager
| Jan 30, 2019
After five years of advocacy, GSBA’s work on creating Washington State’s first LGBTQ Commission may soon become a reality. Working with newly elected Senator Claire Wilson (District 30, Federal Way) and GSBA Lobbyist Susie Tracy, Washington is poised to establish a LGBTQ commission this year.
Closely modeled after the Washington State Women’s Commission established in 2018, the LGBTQ Commission would consist of 15 members appointed by the Governor for 3-year terms. Importantly it would have a paid executive director to help administer and coordinate the commission.
Like the minority and women’s commissions, the LGBTQ commission would be charged with several roles around state governance:
- Monitor legislation affecting LGBTQ people
- Work with state agencies to assess programs and policies affecting LGBTQ people, and consult with them on the effectiveness of policies and rules on the particular issues facing LGBTQ people
- Review best practices for anti-discrimination and harassment policies and training, and provide recommendation to state agencies
- Work to eliminate barriers for LGBTQ people in all areas of state governance
- Hold public hearings to gather input from the community
Additionally, the bill establishing the commission would also formally recognize June as LGBTQ Pride Month, with the fourth week of the month (the traditional time for most Pride celebrations across the country) being especially designated “a time for people of this state to celebrate the contributions to the state by LGBTQ people in the arts, sciences, commerce, and education”.
GSBA, working together with community partners, is excited that the LGBTQ community, with passage of SB 5356, will finally be provided similar opportunities and benefits enjoyed by other protected classes, all of which have statewide commissions. Without a statewide commission, the LGBTQ community has been excluded from many economic opportunities offered to other protected classes, including the most basic benefit of ensuring our community is identified and counted in disparity studies, which is absolutely essential for receiving state funding. When you are not counted, you are invisible and often excluded from having a seat at the table. For example, without a LGBTQ Commission, our community does not have a seat on the Minority Business Roundtable nor is LGBTBE certification recognized, resulting in fewer opportunities for our small businesses to be able to compete for government contracts. A Commission does not fix everything, but it is important if we are to break down the economic barriers still faced by our community, most especially our trans and LGBTQ communities of color.
We urge you to contact your legislators and ask them to support SB 5356 and the creation of a Washington State LGBTQ Commssion.