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Online Extra: Gays Across America: Backers don't turn in signatures

by Seth Hemmelgarn

Marci Owens encouraged people not to sign petitions for<br>Washington's anti-trans I-1552; last week proponents failed to turn in enough<br>signatures. Photo: Courtesy Washington Won't Discriminate
Marci Owens encouraged people not to sign petitions for
Washington's anti-trans I-1552; last week proponents failed to turn in enough
signatures. Photo: Courtesy Washington Won't Discriminate  

An initiative that would have prevented transgender students in Washington state's public schools from using the bathrooms and other facilities of their choice won't be on the ballot after backers failed to gather enough petition signatures.

In an email blast, Washington Won't Discriminate campaign Chair Seth Kirby said that backers of I-1552 had been required to turn in 260,000 valid signatures to the secretary of state's office by 3 p.m. Friday, July 7, but "they didn't even show up to hand over their petitions."

"I-1552 will not be on Washington's November ballot," said Kirby, who's a transgender person. "And our state's long-standing non-discrimination laws will continue to provide protections against discrimination for all Washingtonians â€" including our transgender family members, neighbors, co-workers, and friends."

Kirby credited outspoken opposition, "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in donations, and a decline-to-sign campaign with the initiative's defeat.

"This is no small feat," said Kirby. "Today's victory marks the second time in two years that Washingtonians have mobilized, against all odds, to drive discrimination out of our state."

Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, 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."

Spokespeople for the Yes on I-1552 campaign couldn't be reached for comment.


San Francisco supports trans vets in court case

A law firm representing San Francisco and other cities has filed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to order the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to end its ban on providing surgery for trans veterans.

The ban "denies those who have bravely served our country medically necessary care simply because they are transgender," the firm said in a statement.

The case involves two trans veterans and the Transgender Americans Veterans Association, who are working to repeal the VA's anti-trans regulation, which excludes surgery for "gender alterations" from the medical benefits that are offered to vets.

In a statement to the Bay Area Reporter, the firm's Sharif Jacob and Philip Tassin said, "The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs' refusal to change its discriminatory policy is part of the Trump administration's broader retrenchment against equality for LGBT people, and trans people in particular."

The firm said in a news release that through interviews with Santa Clara County employees, "the brief highlights the county's experiences in providing transgender inclusive benefits to its employees, and residents who are members of or have Medi-Cal benefits managed by the county's Valley Health Plan."

Along with the City and County of San Francisco, the firm is also representing numerous other cities and American Airlines in the case.


EQCA, others oppose DOJ civil rights nominee

Equality California and other groups are working to oppose President Donald Trump's nomination of Eric Dreiband to lead the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Enforcement division.

According to EQCA, Dreiband is the lawyer who represented the University of North Carolina in its recent decision to implement parts of the state's anti-trans bathroom law.

"Once again, a nomination by Donald Trump is sending a terrible signal to LGBTQ Americans in general and to transgender people in particular," EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur said in a July 7 news release. "North Carolina's HB 2 is one of the most anti-LGBTQ pieces of state legislation in recent history, and to pick Eric Dreiband â€" one of its legal champions â€" for this important position makes it clear that we cannot count on Trump to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans. � We urge every member of the U.S. Senate to firmly oppose his confirmation to ensure that the job of the assistant attorney general is executed as intended â€" to protect the civil rights of the most vulnerable."

Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Washington, D.C. legislative office, said in a statement that Dreiband has "made a career going against women and LGBT rights."

Along with his anti-trans work, among other efforts, as a lawyer for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under former President George W. Bush, Dreiband testified before Congress against a bill meant to prevent wage discrimination, said McCurdy.

"With a history of restricting civil rights, Dreiband's record must be thoroughly examined and weighed for his fitness to serve in the position that is supposed to advocate for the rights of all Americans, regardless of their background. We will watch Dreiband closely, and urge senators to ask the tough questions during his confirmation process," said McCurdy.

Dreiband didn't respond to requests for comment.


Gays Across America is a column addressing LGBTQ issues nationwide. It runs most Tuesdays. Please submit comments or column ideas to Seth Hemmelgarn at (415) 875-9986 or




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