Friday, December 8, 2006

Hutcherson's back... Does he mean business?

After Tim Eyman failed to collect the necessary number of signatures to put Referendum 65 on the November 2006 ballot, Washington Won't Discriminate announced it would hang around awhile to make sure the coast was clear for our state's new law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. Oops...

Once the limelight faded and the immediate danger to the Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill had passed, WWD's leadership started liquidating all its resources -- including its bank account. According to WWD Chair Anne Levinson, Equal Rights Washington and the Northwest Women's Law Center were the chief beneficiaries. Furthermore, current plans call for WWD to dissolve by the end of the year.

The result of these actions leave the community ill equipped to meet the challenge posed by arch-homophobe Rev. Ken Hutcherson. While his anti-Gay resume is well known to the region's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, his connections to the upper echelons of the Christian right-wing industry is not.

Hutcherson is a rising star in their self-made dynasty and has become a sought after lecturer, TV and radio host and author. He's well connected to national and state anti-Gay forces. So, his filing of an initiative to the Legislature on November 28th -- an attempt to strip sexual orientation and gender identity from the law against discrimination -- shouldn't be taken as an empty threat.

As much as I would like to think so, I don't believe Hutcherson is a thick-headed guy. Clearly, his latest attempt is some sort of political posturing for a potential 2007 filing. Yet -- due to the actions of WWD's leadership -- the region's LGBT community will be starting from square one while Hutcherson taps a network of right-wing churches in our state to gather signatures and solicits contributions from state and national organizations.

All we can do is trust that the board of WWD – a list that reads like a 'who's who' for the state of Washington -- know what their doing.

Here's copies of my e-mail correspondence with Anne Levinson, Chair of Washington Won't Discriminate. Levinson is also a former judge, duputy mayor of Seattle and Chairwoman of the Washington State Utilities & Transportation Commission.

Subject: Anne: Hutcherson's back...
Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2006 19:39:16 -0800
From: Robert Raketty
To: Anne Levinson

Is Washington Won't Discriminate gearing up to take on Hutcherson?

What is the status of WWD at the moment? What financial and other
resources do you have on hand?

Is it important for the LGBT community to mobilize to meet this latest
challenge from Pastor Ken Hutcherson?

-- Robert Raketty / Seattle Gay News

Subject: RE: Anne: Hutcherson's back...
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2006 17:56:15 -0800
From: Anne Levinson
To: 'Robert Raketty'

Hi Robert.

"Washington Won't Discriminate rolled its remaining assets into ERW and the Northwest Women's Law Center to continue their excellent work in protecting lgbt individuals in Washington state from discrimination.  

The language of Rev. Hutcherson's proposed initiative is the same language they tried last spring in the second referendum they filed, but for which they did not collect signatures.  It is an effort to undermine Washington's Law Against Discrimination by removing any protections for lgbt individuals.

Rev. Hutcherson should reflect upon what many of his colleagues have come to realize across the country - true spiritual leaders use their voices to have a positive impact on humanity by helping eliminate poverty, suffering, and environmental degradation, not by creating false conflicts between human beings in divisive and mean-spirited ways.

The Washington Law Against Discrimination is a basic law that has been on the books in our state since 1949.  It protects people from being fired or denied housing based on race, religion, gender, disability and other factors.  All the Legislature did last year was to update it to include sexual orientation.  Surely Rev.Hutcherson can find better things to do with his time and money than to try to return us to the day when these protections did not exist."


Subject: Re: Anne: Hutcherson's back...
Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2006 19:36:34 -0800
From: Robert Raketty
To: Anne Levinson


What is the legal status of WWD. Are you still chair?

-- Robert / SGN

Subject: RE: Anne: Hutcherson's back...
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2006 20:45:21 -0800
From: Anne Levinson
To: 'Robert Raketty'

Yes, we'll formerly wrap up the committee at year end.

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