Anti-Discrimination Tug-of-War in Washington

In 2006 Washington changed its anti-discrimination law at RCW 49.60.030 to include a prohibition against discrimination based on sexual preference (which was defined to include all trans people). The State Human Rights Commission was charged with creating rules to implement the anti-discrimination statute. Perhaps encouraged by the national Republican interest in bathroom attendance, Washington Republicans almost immediately presented a bill to permit bathroom discrimination, apparently thinking that everyone would be a lot more comfortable if trans people frequented these places in accordance with the gender that they were identified with at birth, rather than what they identified with themselves. but this bill did not go anywhere. A kerfluffle ensued when the Human Rights Commission adopted rules to effectuate the broad antidiscrimination policy but they withstood attack.

A form of the Republican’s bathroom bill did however nearly make it out of the state senate in February 2016. The bill would have repealed a then-recent rulely adopted by the state’s Human Rights Commission that allowed transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. It was narrowly defeated by a 25-24 vote with Democrat Jim Hargrove (now retired) from the 24th District (most of the Olympic Peninsula) joining the Republicans and three Republicans joining the Democrats.

There is a nationwide bathroom push.  Republicans from several states have thrown themselves in the bathroom arena.  Over the years these efforts have gotten more sophisticated and Republicans have become more bathroom trained with respect to this sort of legislation.  Last year’s attack on the bathroom rule issued by the Human Right Commission, rather than addressing the anti-discrimination law itself, is an example of this.

In Washington the effort is now to circumvent the legislature and pursue the initiative process.  Last year I-1515 was circulated but did not make it on the ballot.  This year I-1552 is being circulated to exclude bathrooms from the civil rights protection afforded trans people.

Anti-Discrimination Tug-of-War in Washington

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