Fired up to protect transgender rights and defeat I-1515 Fired up to protect transgender rights and defeat I-1515
Fired up to protect transgender rights and defeat I-1515

Back­ers of Ini­tia­tive 1515, a right wing scheme to legal­ize dis­crim­i­na­tion against trans­gen­der indi­vid­u­als in Wash­ing­ton State, have can­celed their appoint­ment to turn in sig­na­tures after con­clud­ing they did­n’t have enough to make the bal­lot, the Sec­re­tary of State’s office announced only min­utes ago.

“The I‑1515 (‘bath­room ini­tia­tive’) cam­paign has can­celed their Fri­day appoint­ment and will not be bring­ing in sig­na­tures,” said David Ammons, com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor for Wash­ing­ton Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman. “Cam­paign chief Joseph Back­holm con­tact­ed our Elec­tions Divi­sion and indi­cat­ed the cam­paign did not gath­er enough sig­na­tures to meet the thresh­old (246k bare min­i­mum and 325k sug­gest­ed lev­el to cov­er dupli­cate and invalid signatures.)”

“This evening we made the dif­fi­cult deci­sion to can­cel tomor­row morning’s meet­ing with the Sec­re­tary of State,” said I‑1515 spon­sor Joseph Back­holm in an email to back­ers. “Despite a tremen­dous and hum­bling effort from our faith­ful core of vol­un­teers, as of 4:30 PM, we did not have enough sig­na­tures to rea­son­ably believe we will meet the required 246,000 quo­ta to get I‑1515 on the ballot.”

This is a huge, huge vic­to­ry. With Tim Eyman hav­ing already failed to qual­i­fy any­thing, the demise of I‑1515 means that for the first time in decades, there will be no right wing ini­tia­tives on Wash­ing­ton’s statewide ballot.

Wash­ing­ton’s pro­gres­sive move­ment, mean­while, will have not just one, not just two, but sever­al ini­tia­tives on the statewide ballot.

For exam­ple, I‑1433, which would raise the min­i­mum wage to $13.50 and require most employ­ers to pro­vide paid leave to their workers.

Or I‑1491, which would save lives and empow­er fam­i­lies by allow­ing courts to issue extreme risk pro­tec­tion orders bar­ring indi­vid­u­als who the evi­dence shows are a dan­ger to them­selves or oth­ers from access­ing firearms.

Or I‑735, which puts Wash­ing­ton on record as call­ing for a fed­er­al con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment hold­ing that cor­po­ra­tions are not peo­ple and mon­ey is not speech.

The right wing may try to qual­i­fy a mea­sure sim­i­lar to I‑1515 for the 2017 bal­lot, so we must remain vig­i­lant and ready to pro­tect hard-won LGBT civ­il rights. But for now, the Wash­ing­ton Won’t Dis­crim­i­nate cam­paign has won a huge vic­to­ry. Togeth­er, we stood up to big­otry and edu­cat­ed vot­ers about the grave harm I‑1515 would cause. That helped frus­trate the cam­paign’s sig­na­ture gath­er­ing effort. They’ve now thrown in the tow­el. This is tru­ly a great day for Wash­ing­ton State.

UPDATE, 6:45 PM: Seth Kir­by, Chair of Wash­ing­ton Won’t Dis­crim­i­nate, has respond­ed to the fail­ure of I‑1515. Here’s Seth’s mes­sage to supporters:

After months of decep­tive cam­paign­ing, in which we’ve undoubt­ed­ly wit­nessed numer­ous reports of inflat­ed I‑1515 sig­na­ture counts—the cam­paign to repeal trans­gen­der pro­tec­tions is offi­cial­ly retreating.

That means that Washington’s non-dis­crim­i­na­tion laws, which have been pro­tect­ing trans­gen­der Wash­ing­to­ni­ans and their fam­i­lies for more than a decade, will stay on the books—and con­tin­ue to pro­tect our neigh­bors and friends for years to come.

Today’s remark­able vic­to­ry is tes­ta­ment to the fact that, in Wash­ing­ton, dis­crim­i­na­tion will NOT stand. I am proud to live and work in a state where peo­ple know that everyone—including trans­gen­der Washingtonians—deserves to be treat­ed fair­ly and equal­ly under the law. And we stand by those con­vic­tions to the very end.

The evi­dence is over­whelm­ing. In a mat­ter of mere months we mobi­lized thou­sands of grass­roots sup­port­ers and unit­ed an unprece­dent­ed coali­tion of trans­gen­der Wash­ing­to­ni­ans and their fam­i­lies, more than 150 busi­ness­es, hun­dreds of faith lead­ers, edu­ca­tion advo­cates and more behind the sim­ple notion that dis­crim­i­na­tion has no place in our state.

When we asked you to stand up to pro­po­nents of trans­gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion and say No On I‑1515, you deliv­ered 110%—and today it paid off, BIG time. In short: This cam­paign would not have been pos­si­ble with­out fair-mind­ed and com­mit­ted sup­port­ers like you.

And as a trans­gen­der Washingtonian—who would have been very direct­ly impact­ed by a poten­tial repeal of our non-dis­crim­i­na­tion laws—I can’t thank you enough for stand­ing with us in defense of fair­ness and equal­i­ty for all.

We will keep you post­ed as we decide where this cam­paign goes next. For now, cel­e­bra­tions are in order!

And here’s the cam­paign’s press release.

This post will be updat­ed with addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion in the hours to come.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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4 replies on “VICTORY!!! I‑1515 backers throw in the towel, anti-transgender initiative FAILS!”

  1. Whoppeeeee!!! Anoth­er HATE MEASURE, going down to defeat! I was approached in the Fer­ry line to sign it, and was asked to “repeal the cur­rent bath­room laws”. I asked “WHAT bath­room laws?” It took me a few min­utes of dis­cus­sion for her to final­ly admit it was to keep trans­gen­dered peo­ple out of their appar­ent-gen­der bath­rooms. I told her I was VERY hap­py with our cur­rent “Bath­room Laws”.…and to get away from my car. I was annoyed the entire day. SO glad they failed!!!

  2. I am enjoy­ing the chance to cel­e­brate the fail­ure of hate in our state. But, it would be won­der­ful to know just how bad­ly the big­ots failed in their attempt to deny those of us in the trans­gen­der com­mu­ni­ty our basic civ­il rights. I would love it if they would pub­lish the num­ber of sig­na­tures they did man­age to collect.

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