Washington State Bans Discrimination Against Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Citizens

The Washington state Senate passed a bill on January 27th protecting
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination,
making Washington the 17th state to ban discrimination based on sexual
orientation and the 7th state based on gender identity. For procedural
reasons the bill was sent back to the House, which already passed the
bill. It now goes to Gov. Christine Gregoire, who pledged to sign it.

"States like Washington are picking up the slack as fairness remains
stalled in Congress," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe
Solmonese. "More than one-third of Americans now live in a state where
it's illegal to fire a hard-working employee just for being gay."

A broad-based coalition of religious organizations, large and small
businesses, civil rights groups, and concerned citizens advocated for
the bill. Leading supporters include Washington employers Microsoft,
Boeing, Corbis, Hewlett Packard, Nike and RealNetworks weathering calls
for boycotts by extremists organizations.

"Businesses support non-discrimination protections because recruiting
and retaining the best talent is good for their bottom line," said
Solmonese. "Fair-minded consumers, employees and investors will not
soon forget their leadership on ensuring fairness."

A sexual orientation non-discrimination bill was first introduced in the
Washington legislature in 1976. It failed by one vote in the state
Senate last year.

"These important legal protections are the product of decades of work by
thousands of Washingtonians committed to equal treatment for every
citizen," said Solmonese. "We applaud Equal Rights Washington and other
groups who are opening hearts and minds in communities across the

Over the past year, the Human Rights Campaign has worked closely with
Equal Rights Washington in coordinating grassroots efforts to pass the
nondiscrimination bill. The Human Rights Campaign has also provided
substantial funding for advertising, polling and administrative support
in addition to sending more than 10 staff members to Washington.
Additionally, the Human Rights Campaign helped to garner business
support for the bill by working with various large corporations.

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