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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 26, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 21
Think twice before you support I-1552, religious leaders tell their colleagues
Section One
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Think twice before you support I-1552, religious leaders tell their colleagues

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Nine prominent religious leaders in Washington state have issued an open letter to their colleagues, asking them to think twice before supporting I-1552, the anti-Transgender initiative being circulated for signatures.

The letter, dated May 23, is a rebuttal to a recent appeal for help with I-1552 issued by Pastor Joe Fuiten, a longtime opponent of the LGBT community.

'Please search your heart and do not allow the backers of I-1552 to sow fear and distrust among us,' the letter says.

The plea is signed by Bishop B. Kirby Unti, Northwest Washington Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Bishop Greg Rickel, Episcopal Diocese of Olympia; Presiding Elder Spencer Barrett of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; President R. Skyler Oberst, Spokane Interfaith Council; Rabbi Bruce Kadden, Temple Beth El; Rabbi Jason Levine, Temple Beth Am; Rev. David Wright, University of Puget Sound; Rabbi Daniel Weiner, Temple De Hirsch Sinai; and Rev. Paul Benz, Faith Action Network.

'We are followers of many different faiths that share a basic common tenet: love our neighbors as ourselves - including those who may seem different from us,' they wrote to their colleagues.

'Like many of our congregants, we're concerned about the impacts of a proposed ballot initiative - I-1552 - that seeks to repeal the last decade of Washington's nondiscrimination protections for transgender people...

'This is not how we, as people of faith, treat each other. We should not single out our transgender neighbors for different treatment and potentially put their safety at risk with a proposal that would have unintended consequences for all of us.

'We have prayed about this and come to believe that protecting people from discrimination is about treating others as we want to be treated - including people who are transgender - and we should all be treated equally under the law.'

The letter closes with a request to sign on to a statement opposing I-1552.

'We applaud these faith leaders for stepping forward and calling on others to respect our state's longstanding nondiscrimination laws,' said Seth Kirby, a Transgender man and chair of Washington Won't Discriminate.

'Washingtonians value fairness and equality, and we believe that everyone in our state should be able to earn a living, frequent a business, earn an education, and raise a family free from the fear of discrimination.'

Washington Won't Discriminate is a coalition of more than 500 law enforcement, clergy, labor and business leaders, and others opposing I-1552.

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