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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 4, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 10
It's official: Anti-Trans bathroom initiative filed
Section One
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It's official: Anti-Trans bathroom initiative filed

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

It's official. Joseph Backholm, the man who brought you Referendum 74 to repeal marriage equality, has filed for a statewide ballot initiative to bar Trans people from using gender-appropriate restrooms.

In fact, Backholm has filed not one but three separate initiative titles: the 'Locker Room and Bathroom Privacy and Safety Act,' the 'Locker Room and Bathroom Privacy Act,' and the 'Locker Room Privacy Act.'

He now has until July 8 to collect 246,372 valid signatures of registered Washington voters to qualify one of the initiatives for the November ballot.

In a February 12 filing with the state Public Disclosure Commission, Backholm registered the name 'Just Want Privacy' for his initiative campaign.

It's an ironic name for a campaign to make genital configuration the determining factor in deciding which restroom an individual may use.

Backholm is reacting to a state Human Rights Commission (HRC) ruling that Transgender people may use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.

That ruling fully complies with state and federal laws protecting Trans people against discrimination. Nevertheless, Republican legislators pushed to repeal it and forbid the HRC from making any rules about restroom use ever again.

No fewer than six bills were introduced to keep Trans people from using appropriate restrooms, but the main bill was voted down by the state Senate 25-24 on February 10. None of the other measures is scheduled for a vote.

After the Senate vote rejecting the so-called bathroom bill, Republican lawmakers openly threatened to run an initiative campaign.

'It looks like the new 'let men in women's bathroom' rule DOES apply to schools,' Rep. Matt Manweller of Ellensburg tweeted. 'Nice job, Dems. Repeal the rule now or we'll see you in November.'

The man they picked to run the campaign, Joseph Backholm, has impeccable right-wing credentials.

Backholm is executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, the local franchise of James Dobson's Focus on the Family. He took that position in 2009 and rocketed to right-wing stardom three years later as the brains behind Referendum 74.

Backholm is also on Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio's 'Marriage and Family Advisory Board.'

If Backholm succeeds in repealing Trans people's restroom rights, he will be going against years of legal progress.

Washington state's law against discrimination (RCW 49.60) guarantees Trans residents 'the right to the full enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges of any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement.'

Federal laws - Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - are now also held to protect Trans people, under the prohibition against discrimination on account of sex.

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