Your GSBA advocacy team has had a busy winter. With the short session in Olympia, there is a lot to do but not much time. If you have been following us on Facebook, Twitter or in your email inbox, you know that GSBA has been very involved with the Washington Safety & Access For Everyone (SAFE) Alliance over the last few months. There is a national backlash against LGBT after an unprecented streak of victories for our community, and our opponents are attempting to unravel our hard-fought civil rights.
There were seven anti-LGBT bills proposed in the Legislature this year, six of which specifically aimed to rollback civil rights protections for transgender Washingtonians that have been law for over a decade (read more about the bills). Senate Bill 6443 would repeal a regulation allowing transgender people to access facilities according to their gender identity and would forbids the Washington State Human Rights Commission from making any more regulations about access to single-sex facilities. SB 6443 was brought up for a floor vote on February 10, and in a nail-biting fifteen minutes we watched as this awful bill failed by the closest of margins (24-25). The remaining anti-LGBT bills in the Legislature are unlikely to be brought up for a vote after SB 6443 failed. However, we are preparing for the eventuality that our familiar opponents will try to file a ballot initiative.
The collective effort of all the organizations supporting the Washington SAFE Alliance made a difference - including many GSBA-member businesses and nonprofits. Many legislators said that these issues were the ones they heard about most frequently in January. A strong showing of strength from equality-minded Washingtonians carried the day, including three Republicans who listened to the calls and emails from their constituents to oppose SB 6443.
We are proud of all of you who joined us to defend basic and necessary civil rights in Washington. We aren’t done yet! As we move into the next steps of the coalition, please make sure that your business has endorsed the Washington SAFE Alliance.