Seattle City Council Urges State Senate to Pass Gay Rights Bill
SEATTLE - For the second time in ten years, the Seattle City Council has urged the Washington Legislature to pass a bill to prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, financial transactions and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.
"It's about time the state ensure equal protection for all its residents," said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, sponsor of the Council's latest resolution. "For gays and lesbians in Washington who live outside Seattle and the other eight jurisdictions where these rights are given, this state can be an unwelcome place to live."
The Council resolution calls upon the state Senate to pass House Bill 1809, which would add the words "sexual orientation" to the list of factors that are prohibited from discrimination in Washington state. The list already includes race, color, creed, national origin, gender and disability. HB 1809 passed the state House of Representatives 59-39, but failed to come up for a vote on the floor of the Senate last Friday, the last day for such a bill to be considered.
Despite the dire outlook, it is still possible for the Senate to procedurally resurrect the bill and bring it to a vote before the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn at the end of this week.
"We urge the state Senate, and anyone in Olympia who has influence in the legislative process, to call for a Senate vote on this bill," said Rasmussen. "This is legislation whose time is past due."
Versions of a gay rights bill have been debated in Olympia for the past 28 years. In 1994, the Seattle City Council passed a resolution calling for the Legislature to approve that year's incarnation of the bill. "Today, we are still calling for this legislation's passage," said Rasmussen.
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Text of Resolution
A RESOLUTION urging the Washington State Senate to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by adopting House Bill 1809 for the benefit of all people of the State of Washington.
WHEREAS, through its 2004 Legislative Agenda, the City of Seattle has stated that it will support legislation that promotes statewide protection to all class groups recognized by the City, to provide equal access to services and to eliminate all discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, and lending practices; and
WHEREAS, nine Washington State jurisdictions including Seattle, King County, Clallam County, Clark County, Olympia, Pullman, Spokane, Tumwater and Vancouver have ordinances, policies or proclamations prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation; and
WHEREAS, House Bill 1809 would amend the Washington State discrimination law to prohibit discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation; and
WHEREAS, in February, 2004, House Bill 1809 received the support of legislators from throughout the state of Washington and passed in the State House by a vote of 59 to 39; and
WHEREAS, the City of Seattle has historically demonstrated its commitment to equality for all its citizens including sexual minorities, demonstrated by City ordinances that prohibit unequal treatment and discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations, as found in SMC 14.04 and SMC 14.08; and
WHEREAS, Council Resolution 29032, adopted in 1994, conveyed the City Council and the Mayor's support in urging the Washington State Legislature to add sexual minorities to Washington State law against discrimination; and
WHEREAS, in order to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in Washington State, the State Senate must adopt House Bill 1809;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE THAT WE:
Urge the Washington State Senate to adopt House Bill 1809 during the 2004 legislative session to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by amending the state's discrimination law.
Adopted by the City Council the _____ day of _______________, 2004, and signed by me in open session in authentication of its adoption this _____ day of _______________, 2004.
President of the City Council