In the current political climate, we are reminded that our democracy is dynamic and always a work in progress that requires our activism.
In fact, in the past few months in state legislatures across our region, we’ve seen the need to engage to both advance our legal protections and defend against serious threats:
- In Montana, the “Locker Room Privacy Act” (HB 609) was introduced, which would have denied transgender and gender diverse students the right to use the bathroom or locker room that matches the gender they live as every day. Our community’s vocal opposition during committee hearings prompted the legislature to defeat the measure. But now, proponents of this discriminatory bill are threatening to bring forward an initiative to achieve the same end at the ballot.
- In Washington, proponents of Initiative-1552—a ballot initiative that would repeal significant pieces of the state’s longstanding, 11-year old nondiscrimination law—are collecting signatures to get it placed on the November 2017 ballot. I-1552 specifically targets our transgender neighbors, family members, and communities in Washington.
- In Alaska, opponents of equality at Alaska Family Action filed a petition to place an initiative on the ballot that would ask voters to repeal the public accommodations portion of Anchorage’s 2015 nondiscrimination ordinance, which protects LGBTQ Alaskans from discrimination in places of housing, employment, and public accommodation. This petition was certified last week, and it is likely to be put before voters in 2018.
Despite these challenges, there is still opportunity for progress. And we’re forging ahead across the region:
- In Alaska, Senator Gardner introduced Senate Bill 72 (SB 72), which would affirm statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing, employment, and public accommodations. Pride Foundation, along with our regional partners and grantees, organized our community and our allies to submit testimony in support of this bill. You can still voice your support for this important legislation here.
- In Oregon, House Bill 2673 would streamline the process for transgender people to change their gender identity markers on government documents. Our partners at Basic Rights Oregon are also working with the Department of Motor Vehicles to add a third gender marker to driver’s licenses.
Each of these challenges and opportunities are important far beyond their states’ boundaries—as the Northwest is a leader in addressing LGBTQ issues. Our wins help accelerate our movement’s progress across the country, and our defeats cast shadows on other regions.
One thing is clear: what happens here, matters everywhere. People across the country are watching—and they are learning what we’re able to accomplish when we work together.