Friday, January 20, 2006

Civil Rights Bill passes state House; heads to Senate

The Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill (HB 2661) passed out of the state House of Representatives on Friday. Six Republicans joined 54 Democrats to pass the measure. The final votes was 60-37.

The bill, which as languished in Olympia for three decades, would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. State law already prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability, religion, marital status and other factors.

"This legislation is about more than just changing the law, it is about sending a message," Rep. Ed Murray, who is openly Gay, told his colleagues during floor debate. "A message that the United States and Washington state is a place of tolerance. A message that in Washington state the American dream applies not to just some of our citizens but to all of our citizens, including our Gay and Lesbian citizens."

The Seattle Gay News will publish Murray's remarks in their entirety next week.

The legislation now heads to the Senate, where a hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday.

The bill failed by a single vote in the Senate last year. However, Sen. Bill Finkbeiner (R-Kirkland), who voted against the legislation last year, said he would support the bill this year.

Polling by Equal Rights Washington, an statewide advocacy organization for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, found that 71 percent of Washington residents support nondiscrimination legislation. Lake Research Partners had conducted the poll of 600 voters and said the results carry a statistical margin of error of 4.9 percent.

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