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King County passes Amendment 2 with 70%
King County passes Amendment 2 with 70%
by Marsha Botzer - Special to the SGN

King County Charter Amendment 2 Prohibiting Discrimination:
Shall Section 840 of the King County Charter be amended to add disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression to the prohibited grounds for discrimination in county employment and county contracting&

As a longtime advocate for Transgender equality I am deeply impressed by the truly democratic and professional way in which King County Charter Change Amendment 2 was adopted. In a state that leads the nation on Transgender equality, King County sets the bar!

Passage of King County Charter Change Amendment 2 is making history for the Transgender community. Where once securing equal rights for Transgender residents of King County was controversial, the decision to add gender identity and expression to the anti-discrimination provision of the King County Charter reflects the educated and informed values in Washington State. To see the words "gender identity" and "expression" on the ballot, and to see such overwhelming support, says volumes about the growing understanding of the Transgender community in King County. When civil rights advocates recommended to the King County Charter Change Review Commission that gender identity and expression be added to the anti-discrimination section of the Charter, the Commission went to work researching and understanding the request. The recommendation was accepted without a single dissenting vote. When the Commission made the recommendation to the County Council, the recommendation was again accepted without a single dissenting vote. Now the people of King County, as required by law, have approved overwhelmingly the Charter Change. The inclusion of protections based on gender identity and expression in the County's Charter reflects the value of respect and equality that Transgender people have sought for so long.

For me, it was a tribute to the Charter Review Committee, and a welcome development indeed that this Charter Change Amendment moved through a long process without confusion or resistance. The members and their staffs took the time to carefully understand the issues. Years of educating public officials and the electorate about the lives of Transgender people has clearly made King County a more accepting and just society.

King County, the largest county in Washington State by population at 29%, is leading the way for all Washington counties. Given that the state passed an anti-discrimination law in 2006 that included discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, this amendment was less about rights and more about the value of equality. In a world that has treated Transgender people as less than equal for so long, it would be hard to underestimate the importance of this vote.

Marsha Botzer is leader in the Transgender equality movement. She founded Seattle 's Ingersoll Gender Center and chairs the Washington Transgender Equality Project (a project of Equal Rights Washington). Marsha served as a national co-chair of Obama Pride during the election.

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