Today, the Human Rights Campaign strongly condemned a vote of 4 to 3 late last night by the Washington Senate Committee on Law and Justice in favor of legislation that would specifically prohibit the state’s non-discrimination laws from protecting transgender people against discrimination in the use of sex-segregated facilities. The vote to advance SB 6548 comes shortly after a different Senate committee voted last week to advance legislation – SB 6443 – that would repeal long-standing, gender identity non-discrimination regulations previously put into place by the state’s Human Rights Commission.
“Anti-equality activists are pushing extreme and shameful measures in the Evergreen State that would roll back the critical non-discrimination protections transgender Washingtonians need and deserve,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “We urge all fair-minded people across the state to demand their lawmakers immediately stop these offensive assaults on fairness and equality, and we call on the Senate to vote down these dangerous measures if they come to a vote on the floor.”
Both pieces of legislation seek to allow discrimination against transgender Washingtonians using facilities consistent with their gender identity. SB 6443, passed through the Senate Committee on Commerce & Labor last week, would repeal the regulations promulgated by the state’s Human Rights Commission ensuring that people are able to access sex-segregated facilities according to their gender identity, and would prevent the commission from implementing future regulations on the subject. It is now headed to the Rules Committee who will decide if it will be placed on the Senate floor calendar.
"As a transgender man and longtime youth advocate, I am disappointed by the Committee's efforts to take away civil rights that have been in place for over a decade,” said Seth Kirby, Oasis Youth Center Executive Director and a spokesperson with the Washington Safety & Access For Everyone (SAFE) Alliance. “This kind of legislation is a deliberate attempt to limit transgender people like me from living our lives fully—at home, school, work—and to compromise our safety."
The anti-transgender measures in Washington state are part of an onslaught of anti-LGBT bills being pushed in state legislatures around the country in 2016. HRC is currently tracking 150 anti-LGBT bills in 31 states. Earlier this month, HRC released a preview of these attacks which range from legislation attempting to undermine marriage equality; proposals aimed to authorize individuals, businesses, and taxpayer-funded agencies to cite religion as a legal reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people; bills seeking to restrict or criminalize transgender people who use facilities consistent with their gender identity; and even legislation aimed at eliminating the ability of local governments to protect LGBT residents and visitors. For more information, visit: www.hrc.org/2016legislature.
HRC is proud to join with the Washington SAFE Alliance and stand with the diverse coalition leading the way in Olympia against these extreme and discriminatory measures.