BY CHRIS JOHNSON, WASHINGTON BLADE
A citizen-initiated measure in Washington State seeking to bar transgender people from using public school restrooms consistent with their gender identity has failed to qualified for the 2017 ballot.
Washington Won’t Discriminate, the coalition group opposing the measure, announced in a statement Friday the campaign behind the anti-trans initiative cancelled its appointment Friday to submit 259,622 valid signatures to the Washington Secretary of State. That was the deadline for submitting names to place a measure before Washington State voters in 2017.
Had the measure, Initiative Measure No. 1552, been placed on the ballot and approved by voters, it would have barred transgender people from using public restrooms and locker rooms in schools consistent with their gender identity.
Such a measure would effectively institute a carve-out in Washington State’s non-discrimination law and defy interpretations of federal law against sex discrimination to apply to transgender people.
Seth Kirby, a transgender man and chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate, the No on I-1552 campaign, said the measure would have enabled discrimination in the name of public safety.
“We all care about safety and privacy, but people understand that repealing protections from discrimination for transgender people won’t make anyone safer,” Kirby said. “It’s already a felony to assault or harass someone in public facilities, and no one should have to prove their gender to self-appointed bathroom cops.”
Erich Ebel, a spokesperson for the Washington Secretary of State, confirmed no signatures for I-1552 were submitted by the July 7 deadline and therefore the measure won’t appear on the 2017 ballot.
According to Washington Won’t Discriminate, the campaign ran a “Decline to Sign” Campaign, raised nearly $300,000 and recruited more than 100,000 activists and volunteers in anticipation of I-1552 coming before voters.
It’s the second year in row the measure has failed to qualify. The anti-trans campaign behind the initiative also failed to gather enough signatures to put it before a vote in 2016.
Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the failure of the anti-trans measure demonstrates support for LGBT rights across the country.
“Anti-equality activists spent hundreds of thousands of dollars attempting to pass a shameful ballot measure aimed at discriminating against LGBTQ people, but thanks to the fair-minded people of Washington State, they have failed,” Rouse said. “For months, our opponents attempted to garner enough signatures to put the fundamental civil rights of transgender people on the ballot. Their failure is a victory for equality and validation of Washington’s non-discrimination laws that ensure fair and equal treatment for LGBTQ people in housing, employment, and public accommodations.