TACOMA – Gay and lesbian citizens here obtained some basic human rights when the city adopted an anti-discrimination ordinance, April 23. The ordinance made it illegal to fire somebody just because they’re thought to be gay, deny service in a restaurant to gay, lesbian or transgender people, or deny housing or evict somebody based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Then, on May 13, a small group of extremists filed an initiative with the City Clerk to repeal the new law. In early August the group submitted over 5,000 signatures to the Tacoma City clerk, which was enough to put their anti-gay initiative on the ballot for this November’s election.
The group, “Help Us Take Back Tacoma – Again,” is run by Doug Dekin, who ran a failed effort for a seat on the city council a couple of years ago. Their initiative seeks to eliminate sexual orientation and gender identity from the anti-discrimination ordinance.
In gathering signatures, Dekin’s group spread a campaign of disinformation, saying the anti-discrimination ordinance gives “special rights” to gays and lesbians, requires women to share the same bathrooms with men and encourages cross-dressing in the workplace.
The law creates no new rights. It guarantees certain basic rights to gays and lesbians that most people take for granted. And since the law passed there has been no outbreak of cross-dressing in workplaces.
There is a campaign to save the new anti-discrimination law, led by Tacoma United for Fairness (TUFF), a broad-based group representing churches, labor, small businesses, corporations, universities and colleges, human rights organizations, communities of color, the arts, as well as hundreds of democratic-minded individuals. For more information, go to www.TUFFTacoma.org