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