Legislation to establish a state commission to identify concerns specific to LGBTQ individuals and apply those concerns to inform practices and policies at state agencies is on its way to the governor to be signed into law.
“Our state constitution promises to protect us against discrimination in its many forms, but not everyone receives those protections,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the sponsor of Senate Bill 5356. “Many people regularly experience discrimination and other challenges, including physical violence, based merely on their identity or someone else’s perception of their identity.”
Wilson’s legislation will establish a state LGBTQ Commission to ensure state policies reflect a balanced and diverse respect for race and ethnicity, geography, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, and occupation. After first passing the Senate, the bill was amended and passed by the House and had to be passed a final time today in its amended form by the Senate.
“The makeup of the commission will be key,” Wilson said. “It is critical that the governor appoint members who understand the varied challenges and inequities faced by others and make sure those challenges inform public policy.”
Among other things, the commission will consult with state agencies about the effects of agency policies and practices on the unique problems and needs of LGBTQ people, and advise agencies on the development and implementation of comprehensive and coordinated policies, plans and programs to address those needs.
“There are times when our state policies, however well-intended, fail to account for members of our community whose needs may not be as obvious or universally shared,” Wilson said. “At other times, policies intended to help and serve a particular community end up doing the opposite. This commission will be a valuable resource to the public and to our state agencies that serve us.”