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Washington State’s Bathroom Laws: Remedying Discrimination with Discrimination

In December 2015, a new Washington State rule took effect mandating that both public and private entities allow individuals to access sex-segregated facilities—including restrooms, locker rooms, and “facilities where undressing in the presence of others occurs”—according to their preferred gender expression or identity. In other words, public and private entities must allow men claiming to identify as women to use facilities designated for women, and vice versa for women claiming to identify as men.

For good reason, pro-family Washingtonians have started a campaign to collect enough signatures to get Initiative 1552 on the November ballot. I-1552 would “require schools to maintain separate facilities for boys and girls and allow businesses to manage private areas in the way they feel is best for them.”

Aside from the obvious privacy and safety issues the “bathroom rule” raises, it is revealing to consider how the rule suffers from a more immediate defect: fundamental incoherence. To see why, one merely needs to observe how Leftists have twisted our understanding of sex to make the case for their social agenda—thereby establishing an arrangement that implements the very type of discrimination that they purport to be combatting.

Federal and state laws forbid discrimination on the basis of sex, and have done so since the mid-twentieth century. Yet a commonsense exception to these laws has always existed to allow public and private entities to separate facilities based on biological sex. For example, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 forbids educational institutions from discriminating based on sex. If the dictates of this law were applied without exception, they would forbid schools, colleges, and universities from separating bathrooms or locker rooms based on sex. Realizing the problems inherent in this application, regulators carved out an exception for sex-based discrimination in restrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities, so long as the facilities provided for each sex are “comparable.” Similarly, Washington State’s law governing public school facilities allows school districts to provide separate facilities (including toilets and showers) for male and female students.

These exceptions to anti-discrimination laws stood in place for decades without eliciting the faintest public protest. Individuals with male genitalia used facilities designated and designed for men, and those with female genitalia used facilities designated and designed for women.[1] Moreover, when these anti-discrimination laws were written, there was no concept of “gender identity” or “gender expression” as separate from biological understanding of sex.[2]  This means sex-segregated facilities have, since their inception, discriminated on the basis of sex.

The new theoretical distinction between gender identity/expression and biological sex has triggered all sorts of problems where none existed previously. Nevertheless, the Washington State Legislature decided to codify the distinction by forbidding discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Nearly ten years later, Washington’s Human Rights Commission—an entity created by the Washington Legislature to administer and enforce Washington’s anti-discrimination law—issued the December 2015 bathroom rule.

The Human Rights Commission’s Executive Director, Sharon Ortiz, insisted at the time that the rule simply clarifies existing state anti-discrimination law. This should come as a surprise to those of us who have read the law in question, which explicitly protects “[t]he right to be free from discrimination because of . . . sexual orientation,” with “sexual orientation” defined as “heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender expression or identity.”[3] This right encompasses “[t]he right to the full enjoyment of any of the accommodations . . . [and] facilities,” such as public restrooms, free from gender identity/expression-based discrimination.

Yet far from forbidding such discrimination, the December 2015 bathroom rule in fact codifies gender identity-based discrimination. Facilities labeled for women, for instance, are now accessible only to individuals who identify as women, regardless of their genitalia. Biological men who identify as women have the same access to women’s facilities as biological women who identify as women. Biological men who identify as men, as well as biological women who identify as men, may NOT access those same facilities. Likewise, facilities labeled for men are accessible only to individuals who identify as men, again regardless of their biological sex. The distinction is not based on sex but on the gender with which one identifies. In other words, the new rule purporting to interpret a law forbidding discrimination based on gender identity effectively discriminates based on gender identity.

The Commission could argue that transgender males (biological women who claim to identify as men) and transgender females (biological men who claim to identify as women) do not have to use the facilities that conform to their gender identity. However, this arrangement would contradict the Human Rights Commission’s own guidance on the bathroom rule. Per the Commission’s “Questions and Answers” document released in tandem with the rule, “Only females can go into women’s bathrooms or locker rooms in a gender segregated situation. This includes transgender females [i.e., biological men] who identify as female.”[4] (The same, one would presume, applies to biological and transgender males).

Even if the Commission were to suggest otherwise (or simply amend the guidance document), forcing men identifying as men and women identifying as women to use the facilities that match their biological sex while allowing transgender males and transgender females to select whichever facilities they please would constitute further discrimination, this time on the basis of both sex and gender identity. Instead of eliminating discrimination, the Commission has simply replaced one form of discrimination with another.

In reality, the Human Rights Commission is not trying to eradicate discrimination. The purpose of the rule was to force on society a new radical scheme of social engineering.

To remedy these circumstances, Washington voters would do well to pass I-1552 and restore order to an arrangement plagued with incoherence.


Christina is a freelance legal blogger from the “other” Washington (Washington, D.C.). She received her law degree from American University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame.


[1] Exceptions, of course, existed. Young children, for instance, are allowed to use the facilities that conform to the sex of the parent or guardian whom they are accompanying, even if the child’s sex does not match that of the parent/guardian (i.e., mothers can bring their young sons into the women’s restroom).

[2] For those not yet familiar with the terms, “gender identity” is defined as “[o]ne’s innermost concept of self as male, female, a blend of both or neither – how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves.” According to this theory, one’s gender identity may not be the same as one’s biological sex. Similarly, “gender expression” is the “external appearance of one’s gender identity, usually expressed through behavior, clothing, haircut or voice.” Again, one may choose to express a gender that is different from his or her biological sex.

[3] Ironically, Leftists also insist “sexual orientation”— “an inherent or immutable enduring emotional, romantic or sexual attraction to other people”—has nothing to do with one’s gender expression or identity. However, the law equates gender expression and gender identity—two concepts that are distinct in Progressive parlance. It seems the Washington Legislature hasn’t quite grasped the nuances of Progressive gender theory.

[4] The Commission released a Q&A document, “Questions and Answers Regarding WAC 162-32-060,” containing answers to frequently asked questions concerning the December 2015 bathroom rule. In response to the question, “Can men now go into women’s bathrooms or locker rooms?” the Commission responds with an emphatic “No.”

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Eleven States Sue Obama Administration Over ‘Transgender Facilities’ Mandate

 

The Obama administration’s use of executive fiat to prohibit schools from maintaining sex-separated facilities encountered its first national legal challenge today when nine states (Alabama, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, and Georgia) and officials from two other states (Maine and Arizona) sued the federal government and Obama administration officials.

At issue is the administration’s recent directive that has been decried by parents and students across the country, mandating that schools open their locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms regardless of biological reality.  In the lawsuit, the states labeled the president’s bathroom directive “radical,” arguing that the administration “conspired to turn workplaces and educational settings across the country into laboratories for social experiments.” They also claim that the president’s bathroom directive, which was issued using executive authority and without a congressional vote, “flouted the democratic process.”

Administration officials concluded in the bathroom directive that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act requires schools to allow students to use whichever showers, locker rooms, housing, changing facilities, and restrooms are consistent with their internal gender identity, regardless of their biological sex. In a letter to school districts, the Departments of Justice and Education threatened to withhold federal education funding from school districts that refused to comply with the Administration’s new rules.

The administration’s interpretation contradicts the original intent and traditional interpretation of Title IX, which allows schools to protect the privacy of students by maintaining separate “facilities for the different sexes.” Even liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then a professor at Columbia Law School, wrote in a 1975 Washington Post editorial that because of privacy concerns, equal access and a prohibition on sex discrimination do not exclude separate facilities for changing and using the bathroom.

Officials from the eleven states that filed this lawsuit should be commended for listening to the voice of the people and pushing back against this blatant executive overreach.

It should be no surprise that Washington state, which has its own ongoing fight over bathroom access and privacy concerns, did not join the other eleven states and officials that filed the lawsuit today. The unelected Washington State Human Rights Commission issued a rule last December that prohibits businesses and other places of public accommodation from protecting the privacy of their patrons by ensuring that facility use is determined by biological sex.

Initiative No. 1515, which was filed in response to the Human Rights Commission’s bathroom rule, would repeal the rule and allow businesses, not unelected state bureaucrats, to decide their own bathroom policies.

Sex Offender Led North Carolina LGBT Bathroom Ordinance Efforts

 

In late 2015, the Washington State Human Rights Commission quietly put forward a new rule requiring all public establishments to grant locker room, shower, and bathroom access to any individual, at any time, regardless of that individual’s biological realities.  The rule, which also curbed concerned citizens’ legal ability to ask “unwelcome questions” of an individual if they felt uncomfortable, has since been attempted in various forms and fashions in cities and states across the country.

When the Charlotte, N.C. City Council passed their version of the open-facilities ordinance earlier this year, the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce led the charge to make it happen.

And leading the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce was convicted sex-offender Chad Sevearance-Turner.

The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported that Chad Sevearance-Turner had been a youth minister at a church in Gaffney, South Carolina.  Sevearance-Turner was charged and convicted for “committing or attempting a lewd act upon a child under 16,” after taking advantage of a teenage church member while the child slept.

He recently resigned from the LGBT Chamber of Commerce after his record as a sex-offender surfaced.

While we know that not every person in gender transition is a sex offender, acting as though sex offenders do not exist in the LGBT ranks is an ignorant mistake.

In January, FPIW reported the story of Johanna Wolf, a Washington-based transgender activist and very vocal supporter of our Washington’s open-locker rooms policy.  Wolf, prior to claiming womanhood and changing names, was known as Jonathan Adrian Wolf.

Jonathan Adrian Wolf was charged and convicted for the rape of a minor female in Nebraska in 2006.

By virtue of involvement in the efforts to keep Washington’s open-bathroom rule in place, sex offenders like Wolf want unmitigated access to women’s locker rooms, showers, and bathrooms.

After being convicted of raping women.

Sex predators are always on the lookout for an easy, low-risk opportunity to take advantage of victims, and we must not provide it to them.

Washingtonians have known from the beginning that this rule would only bring harm to innocent people. The University of Toronto, one of the first institutions to put this sort of policy in place, completely reversed its decision after biologically male students were caught “holding their cellphones over female students’ shower stalls and filming them as they showered.”

Not taking into account the damages that the loss of privacy causes, people of both sexes deserve better than to wonder if the man dressed in a dress is there for legitimate purposes or if they are there to take photos of them showering over the stall.

Locker rooms, showers, and bathroom facilities exist to protect privacy during vulnerable times.  They should not be the laboratory for a social experiment gone awry.

If you’re on board with FPIW and maintaining sanity on issues like this, please consider amplifying that message by partnering with us financially.

An Open Letter on the Bathroom Rule


Dear FPIW,

I am really grateful for your leadership and resourcefulness on this “Open Bathroom/Showers” issue. I have PTSD, am a rape survivor, as well as a domestic violence survivor.

I already wrote senators and did all that I could.  I wish that these heartless legislators who said for people to “stop being afraid” could understand what it is like to be raped, and understand that people with PTSD cannot just ‘stop being afraid’.  When naked men are allowed to be in the stall next to women as they undress or they emerge from the gym shower with their naked penis in full view, for the women and children undressing, it is SHOCKING and TERRIFYING.

I cannot see a stranger’s penis and simply “not react.”

PTSD (especially with repeated experiences of violence) is physiological and, as I have learned, actually alters part of the limbic area of the brain AND the autonomic nervous system (“fight or flight”).  When I am around a ‘trigger’ (such as an image that triggers a memory), I have a physical reaction — shaking, fright, nausea; I can feel my heart pounding in my chest, feeling that my well-being might be threatened.  I cannot control this automatic physical reaction.

If I were to suddenly be next to a naked man, I know I would panic, suffer physically from the instantaneous physical reactions from my PTSD, and would need the entire day to calm down.  Why would a ‘transgender’ person get their ‘feelings hurt’ just by using the restroom/shower that matches their anatomy?

We cannot just sacrifice our safety.  It may just be a matter of time for a woman or a child to be raped as predators enjoy this new, easy opportunity by just waltzing right in, pretending to be transgendered.

God help us through this nightmare.

God Bless you all.

-Anonymous

Meet the Human Rights Commissioners Who Gave Us Open Bathrooms

 

In December, five unelected members of the Human Rights Commission of Washington, quietly instituted WAC (Washington Administrative Code) Rule 162-32, or the “Open-Bathroom Rule” — the rule that requires schools, businesses, and all other “public accommodations” grant any individual access to restrooms, locker rooms, or shower facilities based on the way they claim to identity or express themselves internally.

This misguided mandate puts everyone at risk.  Children at school, a place where safety and privacy should be more important than anything else; business owners who risk being sued for legitimate attempts to protect their customers’ safety — they’re all targets of a leftist plot to give an excruciatingly small segment of the population a little bit more comfort with their dysphoria. You can read the full text of the Human Rights Commission’s rule here.

To be clear, the concern related to this rule is not that transgendered people are necessarily predators.  The concern is that the rule creates opportunities for those who are.  Regardless, the loss of privacy is an injury even if no assault takes place. Emotional harm is real too.

The Commissioners, who are appointed by Washington’s governor, have the authority to make such rules—which amount to state law—with limited input from the people or state legislators.  As evidenced by the recent open-bathroom WAC, the commissioners are uniquely positioned to do whatever they feel is fit, and generally, no one has questioned it (hence, why they hadn’t published their activities online for almost two years).

We at the Family Policy Institute of Washington think that it’s important for the people to know who’s making decisions for them, especially since these commissioners remain almost completely unaccountable, except to Governor Jay Inslee (who won’t answer your question about the open-bathroom rule unless you’re with the Associated Press).  Here’s a bit more about the Human Rights Commissioners who gave us the open-bathroom rule:

strong Charlene Strong (@CStrongSeattle): A commissioner since 2009, Charlene Strong is a very involved and well-known LGBT activist who was previously married to a man, but came out as gay and later began a partnership with narrator Kate Fleming. Fleming’s death in 2006 motivated Strong to lobby the Washington State legislature to pass a domestic partnership bill, which it did in 2007.  As a result of her LGBT activism, she met with President Obama to discuss legalization of same-sex marriage, and has also met with other progressive celebrities.  She currently works closely with Equal Rights Washington, an LGBT advocacy group that seeks to ban therapy for teens with unwanted same-sex attraction and hormone therapy access for minors — and even young children — who believe they are transgender.

You can contact Commissioner Strong by clicking here.

 


55_skyleeRobinsonSkylee Robinson (@skyleejane): Robinson is a commercial litigator for Nellermoe Wrenn, PPLC, a graduate of the University of Washington’s law school, a former paralegal for the Army National Guard, and a member of the Board of Trustees for the Pike Place Market Foundation.  According to her attorney bio, Skylee has “always been committed to civic engagement,” and has worked extensively to represent illegal immigrant workers in court.  Robinson has also been known to participate in LGBT activism, attending Pride Parades in Seattle with her fellow commissioners.

You can email Ms. Robinson to share your thoughts here.


 

58_ClarenceHendersonClarence Henderson (@hendeezi): Henderson, a member of the commission since June 2012, is a native of Alabama and a graduate of Norfolk State University as well as Regent University School of Law. Outside of the HRC, Henderson serves as a Board Advisor to the Tacoma Urban League Young Professionals. Henderson is based in Tacoma, Washington and works as a defense attorney in Pierce County. He was once part of a high-profile case that was part of an effort to fight the state’s “auto-decline” law, which automatically refers juveniles who commit certain violent crimes to adult courts. Click here to email Mr. Henderson.


62_LenoreThreeStarsLenore Three Stars: Lenore is Oglala Lakota, born on the same reservation as her father, the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Lenore spent many years working as a civil rights activist with the U.S. Department of Education in Seattle, Washington, where she worked to resolve discrimination complaints, further Native American education in public schools, and help native students succeed. Currently, Lenore is a part-time grad student at the North American Institute of Indigenous Theological Studies, and works for both a native non-profit, as well as an Evangelical Church. Indeed, Lenore has discussed her religious journey extensively through videos and blog posts. Given her commitment to the Church, it’s interesting that she would support the open-bathroom policy, as it could potentially require some Washington churches to open themselves up to liability and wrongfully interfere with the separation of church and state.


 

63_SteveHuntStephen Hunt, Chairman: Hunt, a native of Massachusetts, was appointed to the HRC in 2012.  In the past, he worked for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), engaging in extensive work extensively dealing with discrimination in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. In addition, he worked directly with the Tribal Employment Rights Offices (TERO) for 21 tribes in these states.  He is a self-proclaimed “expert” in employment discrimination laws and the administrative process, though he has no formal legal training.  The EEOC, which began classifying transgender individuals a protected class only within the past few years, has been a major player in attempts to vilify those who voice opposition to issues with transgender rights.

You can email Chairman Hunt here.


Good government happens when people are engaged on the issues.  We encourage all concerned citizens to contact the Human Rights Commission to express your concern with this rule.  While they aren’t elected by the people, they survive on taxpayer dollars, and they should be held accountable by the people who allow them to exist.  If you don’t like something, say something.

The Human Rights Commission’s stated mission is “to prevent and eliminate discrimination through the fair application of the law, the efficient use of resources, and the establishment of productive partnerships in the community.”

Don’t think these unelected few should have the power to make legally-binding rules?  Want the Commission and the state legislature to know that you want this rule repealed?  Sign our petition here and be sure to contact your legislators, which you can do through our contact portal here.

With your help, we can put a stop to the HRC’s overreach and repeal this dangerous open-bathroom policy.  Supporters of the open-bathroom rule give large amounts of money to the causes they care about. Please consider joining forces with FPIW in our efforts to repeal the open-bathroom rule.  Thank you.

Senate Committee Passes Bathroom Rule Repeal, Sex-Selective Abortion Ban

 

FPIW Legislative Update | Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 9:29pm PST

The Senate Law and Justice Committee will pass SB 6548*, a bill that clarifies the Washington Civil Rights Act, effectively repealing the Human Rights Commission’s open-bathroom rule, and SB 6612, a bill to ban sex-selective abortions.

These bills will now head to consideration by the Senate Rules Committee and must be approved for a floor vote by that committee before they are eligible to be voted on by all Senate members.

Please contact your legislators to let them know your thoughts on these two important issues.

*SB 6548 is expected to officially pass on Thursday, following receipt of a formal signature from a member who was excused from the hearing tonight. That member is expected to recommend passage.

The HRC Tries to Explain the Bathroom Rule…and Fails.

The Washington State Human Rights Commission is in damage control mode.  About a month after a rule allowing access to bathrooms based on gender identity and gender expression, the public is still outraged.

Legislative offices have reported receiving as many as a thousand phone calls and emails about the issue and as a result three bills have been introduced in an attempt to fix the problem. While the sponsors of these bills are all Republicans, conversations around the capitol show that concern about the implications of this new rule are definitely bi-partisan.

Earlier this week, somewhere between 500 and 800 people showed up at the Capitol for a public hearing on the issue, the vast majority of which were in support of legislation to nullify the HRC’s rule.

The public outrage has led the HRC to create Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.  While the document represents a noble attempt to make the rules seem reasonable, the information it provides is not accurate.

For example, the FAQ document says:

The rules include a provision that transgender individuals cannot be required to use a gender segregated facility that is inconsistent with their gender identity.  The rules do not give protections to anyone who accesses gender segregated facilities under false pretense, nor do the rules protect anyone who acts in an illegal or inappropriate manner.

The issue that everyone except the members of the HRC seem to understand is that, since trans-genderism is a legal status that depends entirely on the feelings of the person involved, it is impossible to prove whether someone has false or true pretenses.

When Taylor Buehler was arrested inside a woman’s locker room at Everett Community College, he was arrested for voyeurism; for simply being present in a place where he did not belong.  He was also wearing a bra and wig.  If Taylor Buehler went into the women’s locker room at Everett Community College today, he would have a legal right to be present.

Don’t you dare try to make a legally meaningful difference between the two.

The entire purpose of the transgender movement is to eliminate a legal standard for what it means to be anything.

This is exactly the point the HRC makes only a few sentences later.

The definition in the law does not limit protections to persons who have certain anatomical characteristics, who have had gender reassignment surgery, or who have undergone any other medical treatment.

So how are you supposed to know whether someone is acting under “false pretenses” or not? You’re not.

Then they attempt to deal with the sharpest criticism of the new rule.

Q:        Can men now go into women’s bathrooms or locker rooms?

A:        No.  Only females can go into women’s bathrooms or locker rooms in a gender segregated situation.  This includes transgender females who identify as female.  The rules do not protect persons who go into a restroom or locker room under false pretenses.  For example, if a man declares himself to be transgender for the sole purpose of entering a women’s restroom or locker room, then the rule would not protect him.

Here we encounter the same problem.

What is the difference between a transgender female and a male?  The thoughts in his head.  How exactly is law enforcement going to prove that someone doesn’t feel female?  They aren’t.

But it gets even better.  In an attempt to provide clarity for businesses who want to know if someone is “legitimately” transgender or “just pretending”, the FAQ document says this:

The rules do not prohibit asking legitimate questions about a person’s presence in a gender segregated facility.  It is suggested that these questions be asked in a polite and non-confrontational manner.

This sounds reasonable.  The only problem is that the rule they actually passed says this:

(2) Prohibited conduct. Prohibited conduct may include, but is not limited to, the following: (a) Asking unwelcome personal questions about an individual’s sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity, transgender status, or sex assigned at birth;

So…you are prohibited from asking “unwelcome personal questions” but apparently they’re ok with you asking “legitimate questions.”

Clear as mud.

Washington businesses can rest comfortably knowing that your liability will rest on a court’s determination of whether your question was “unwelcome” or “legitimate.”  Meanwhile, the rest of the world points out the fact that a question can be both legitimate and unwelcome.

They go on to assure businesses that…

In addition, it is extremely unlikely that someone who is pretending to be transgender, and who is ejected from a facility, will take the steps of filing a complaint or a lawsuit against that facility.

Clearly the members of the HRC have never met a lawyer before.  If your client is caught in the bathroom with a bra and wig and charged with voyeurism or indecent exposure, any last-in-his-law-school-class public defender will be able to argue that his presence in the girls locker room was lawful because he was “expressing” as a female. “Your honor,” says the lawyer as he picks up the HRC rule, “says right here in black and white. He had a right to be there.”

Filing the complaint against the business to show just how offended the defendant was for the “unwelcome questions” will be the cherry on top.

The irony is that the first time this happens, the very people on the Human Rights Commission who are today assuring businesses that this can never happen could be reprimanding the business involved for their intolerance and their rush to judgment.

But it gets worse.   Regarding those who might “pretend” to be transgender, the FAQ document goes on to say…

If they do so, then the investigation conducted by an enforcement agency will uncover the fact that the person was not being honest about their status, and thus is not protected under the law against discrimination.  Any individual who fraudulently claims to be transgender for the purpose of entering a gender segregated facility in order to engage in illegal activity may also be subject to criminal prosecution.

So…you can’t enjoy the privileges of being transgender unless you actually are transgender?  Have we learned nothing?  Clearly, the HRC is intolerant of the trans-transgender.  You know, those who identify as transgender but actually aren’t.

Apparently male and female are completely fluid concepts, but transgenderism is a title given only to the qualified.

What about the potential for increased crime in locker rooms?  According to their FAQ document…

This rule does not protect behavior that is criminal or inappropriate.  Anyone, regardless of their transgender status, who is behaving inappropriately in a restroom or locker room, can be required to leave.  Law enforcement should be called whenever criminal behavior is observed or suspected.

The problem is, that many people think “behaving inappropriately” extends to people with a penis who undress in the women’s locker room.  Until this rule was adopted, the police would have been able to intervene if that were happening.

But not now.

With the new HRC rules, simply exposing yourself or watching others undress is now a protected activity.

But there’s more from the FAQ document:

Q. Did people have an opportunity to provide input before the rules were put into place?

A. Yes.  The process for agency rule-making is set out in the law, and the Human Rights Commission followed this process….During the public comment period, not a single objection or fear was raised about the issue of transgender individuals using the gender segregated facility with which they identify.

The only possible explanation for the fact that no concerns were raised is that, regardless of what was posted on an obscure website, the public did not have a real opportunity to provide input.  Or if they did, they were not aware of it.

In their attempt to answer frequently asked questions, the HRC is saying, “Don’t look at what we wrote, look at what we meant.”

Unfortunately for them, Guttenberg did invent the printing press and most of us learned how to read.

If they want the words to mean something else, they need to write different words.  Or, maybe the rule is “trans-reasonable” and it only appears to be crazy.

Yeah, that’s it.  Everyone move along.

You can call your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email a message to all your legislators by clicking here.

Bathroom Rule: Clearing Up Confusion on the Legislative Response

 

Many have expressed confusion with all the happenings surrounding the Washington State Human Rights Commission’s rule on open-bathrooms and the repeal effort. The legislative process is very complex, and oftentimes, legislators will use the natural confusion about the process to influence the outcome that they want to achieve. But be confused no more!

On December 26th, 2015, the Human Rights Commission enacted a rule, WAC 162-32, that contains provisions that open up bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower facilities inside “public accommodations” by allowing people to enter those facilities by the way they claim to identify internally rather than what their DNA and biological structure would show. Because of the rule’s clause that makes it unlawful to ask “unwelcome questions” such as the gender or motives of a person entering the facility, concern exists that sexual predators – who otherwise would never otherwise claim to identify as a woman — may use this rule to shower with women or spy on them in the bathroom with better legal protections.

The Human Rights Commission has rule making authority delegated by the legislature. Therefore, the rules it makes are legally-binding and do not require the legislature’s approval to go into effect.   The legislature does, however, have the authority to overrule the Human Rights Commission, and change the level of authority that the commission carries.

The Human Rights Commission met on Thursday night to hear a petition from a citizen, but declined to overturn their rule after hearing the concerns of citizens. The only way this Human Rights Commission meeting would have affected the repeal efforts is if the Human Rights Commission had overturned their ruling. Other than that, Thursday’s meeting had no implications on the ongoing process to repeal the rule.

This legislative session, three separate efforts have been initiated by the legislature to repeal the rule on open-bathrooms. While the three bills have the same general goal – repealing the rule – they go about it in three separate ways.

SB 6443 by Senator Doug Ericksen is the bill that has made the most progress to date. This bill literally calls for a repeal of the provisions in WAC 162-32 that opens up bathroom, locker room, and shower facilities, and removes the Human Rights Commission’s authority to make rules on that subject ever again. This bill is currently at step 7 in the 22-step legislative process. You can click here to watch a video that explains the legislative process in Washington. In short, SB 6443 is far from becoming law; the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee passed it on Wednesday, however. This week, SB 6443 will likely be heard and passed by the Senate Rules committee, making it eligible to be voted on by all Senators in a floor vote. If the Senate passes the bill, an identical version of it must be introduced, heard and passed in the House of Representatives. That version of the bill must be introduced and pass through a policy committee by February 5th in order for this legislative effort to remain alive.

HB 2589 by Rep. Graham Hunt is a bill that amends the underlying civil rights law to clarify that the law did not intend to say that gender identity or gender expression are sufficient reasons to enter a bathroom, locker room, or shower facility, and that biology must be accounted for in entry policies. This is the bill that Rep. Laurie Jinkins has said that she would not hear in the House Judiciary Committee. If she doesn’t hear the bill in that committee, it cannot pass in the conventional method. A House member would have to pull it directly from the introduction to the floor, which can be done according to House rules, though it’s not a common occurrence. It would be preferable that Rep. Jinkins schedules a hearing for the bill, but it must be scheduled and heard by February 5th in order for this effort to remain alive. As with any other bill, identical language would have to be introduced by a bill in the Senate and pass through the policy committee in step 3 (click here to watch a video on the legislative steps) by February 5th.

SB 6548 by Senator Judy Warnick contains very similar language to the bill introduced by Rep. Graham Hunt (HB 2589), but it doesn’t contain an exemption allowing minor children and disabled people from being allowed to use the opposite-gender bathroom, as Rep. Hunt’s bill contains. This bill has been introduced in the Senate and will be heard in the Senate Law and Justice Committee on Monday, February 1st, at 1:30pm. Concerned citizens can attend this committee hearing and make calls to members on the committee.

All of the bills focused on this effort contain provisions to repeal the dangerous policy enacted by the Human Rights Commission. Even if one or all of these bills passed through both chambers, they must be signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee, who, while he has declined to comment, has not been sympathetic of public safety concerns. Of course, in election years, politicians’ actions are often unpredictable, as many are worried about re-election — that’s why the volume of phone calls and emails is so important to these efforts.

FPIW encourages all concerned citizens to email their legislators about this issue, call their offices, and contact Governor Inslee’s office as well.  For bills marked “SB”, you should contact Senators; for bills marked “HB”, you should contact members of the House of Representatives.

Share your concerns. Your input matters and your concerns are being heard. Stand with FPIW to fight this policy to the end!

Human Rights Commission to Consider Repeal of Open-Bathroom Rule

 

Concerned citizens have submitted a petition to the Human Rights Commission to repeal WAC Rule 162-32-060 that opens up showers, locker rooms, and bathroom facilities to people by internal gender identification rather than biological realities.

The Human Rights Commission will hear this petition, among other business, at its meeting tonight in Olympia.

Concerned citizens should make plans to attend this hearing and voice their concerns directly to the Commission.

If you are unable to attend tonight’s meeting, you can submit your comments and concerns to Human Rights Commission Executive Director Sharon Ortiz, at SOrtiz@hum.wa.gov.

Washington State Human Rights Commission
Commission Meeting
Thursday, January 28, 2016 @ 5:30 PM

Legislative Building
416 Sid Snyder Ave. SW, Columbia Room
Olympia, WA 98501

More information about the hearing can be found at this link.

WA Senate Bill Would Force Businesses to Pay for Contraceptives

 

For three years in a row, an abortion insurance mandate has passed the Washington State House of Representatives but failed to pass in the Senate.

Not to be deterred, a handful of Washington State Senators have renewed an effort to force Washington businesses with conviction about the issue of life and abortion to violate their conscience.

They call SB 6493 the “employee reproductive choice act,” but in effect it simply denies employers the freedom to make choices in their business that are consistent with sincerely held beliefs.

The bill would make it an “unfair practice” for an employer “to fail to provide contraceptive coverage at no cost to the employee.”

The bill, however, does not simply require that an employer provide contraceptive coverage, but that it provide coverage “pursuant to the affordable care act.”

The affordable care act specifically mentions twenty different kinds of birth control an employer must be willing to pay for.  Hobby Lobby, the arts and crafts company that successfully challenged the mandate as a violation of federal law, was willing to pay for sixteen of the twenty prescribed forms of the birth control but objected to four of them because of their belief that they would end a life.

Related: Help FPIW challenge these laws and others to protect your freedom!

This bill would deny Washington businesses the protections provided by federal law and require them to pay for specific kinds of contraception that many millions of Americans believe are immoral.

By making it an “unfair practice,” this issue would fall under the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission and the state’s law against discrimination, which could then be enforced by the Attorney General’s office.

Both of these agencies have demonstrated their willingness to be intensely partisan when it comes to interpreting and enforcing the law — particularly when social issues are implicated.

The Human Rights Commission enacted a transgender bathroom policy mandating that all schools and public accommodations make allow their bathrooms to be used based on gender identity or expression.  The controversial new rule effectively allows men access to women’s private spaces so long as they “identify” or “express” their self as a woman.

One of the public meetings that no one knew about—allegedly intended to allow the public to provide comment on the rules before they were finalized—was held at an LGBT support center in Pierce County.

Clearly they were looking for input from a cross section of Washington citizens.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson has also demonstrated his willingness to use his office for partisan purposes as well. He not only sued Barronelle Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers for declining to provide floral services for a same-sex wedding but he also filed a lawsuit against rural hospitals to force them to perform abortions rather than refer them.

If passed, this bill would give the Human Rights Commission and the Attorney General the authority to deal with businesses who, like Hobby Lobby, have every desire to be the best employers they can but are unwilling to pay for something they believe will end a human life.

All in the name of ending discrimination.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Health Care committee and has not yet been scheduled for a public hearing. To see which senators are sponsoring this bill, click here.  To track the progress of this bill and other bills of interest, check out our Bill Tracker at the Legislative Hub.  To email your elected officials all at once about this or any other issue, click here.  You can also call your elected officials through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.