Washington has been fortunate for many years to have strong leaders from our community in the state legislature who helped make our state a leader in establishing and protecting the rights of LGBTQ people. Senators Cal Anderson, Ed Murray, and Joe McDermott and Representatives Dave Upthegrove, Jim Moeller, Mary Helen Roberts, and Brady Walkinshaw served with distinction and helped to accomplish hate crimes protections, a fully inclusive law against discrimination, domestic partnership and marriage equality, and equal parentage rights. We stand on their shoulders and benefit from many years of work and carefully cultivated relationships.
After the alarming election in 2016, much that we had taken for granted seemed to be at risk in our communities – as well as for people of color, immigrants, women, and members of other historically disfavored groups.
In 2018, with Democrats back in control of the Legislature, we passed legislation to prohibit “conversion therapy” and to further the ability of same-sex couples to become parents. We continue to fight every day for legislation to protect the rights and dignity of everyone.
The 2019 Washington State Legislature LGBTQ Caucus hit a historic high and included Senators Jamie Pedersen, Marko Liias, Emily Randall, and Claire Wilson, and Representatives Laurie Jinkins, Chris Kilduff, Nicole Macri, and Beth Doglio. This was the same year that the legislature established the LGBTQ Commission, who works to identify the needs of the LGBTQ community and ensure there is opportunity in state government for advocacy for those needs and for LGBTQ equity.
In 2020, the House of Representatives elected the first out lesbian Speaker of the House, Representative Laurie Jinkins. She follows Oregon Speaker, Tina Kotek, as the second out lesbian House speaker to serve in a state legislature.
In 2021, the Legislature passed the Gender Affirming Care Act. Before this law, many plans in our state classified gender affirming care as cosmetic, and didn’t include it in health care insurance plans. This law requires insurers to cover gender affirming care in their plans and is another step toward health care equity. We also passed legislation to make menstrual products available at no cost to all school districts and institutions of higher education. Lack of menstrual products increases the risk of anxiety and stress for students in addition to medical risks. Menstruating students should not have to choose between menstruating or learning.
Today, the 2022 Washington State Legislature LGBTQ Caucus includes: Senators Jamie Pedersen, Marko Liias, Emily Randall, and Claire Wilson, Speaker Laurie Jinkins, and Representatives Nicole Macri and Kirsten Harris-Talley. All of us are strongly committed to continuing the ongoing struggle for safety, dignity, and full equality for all members of our community. We meet regularly with community advocates, including the GSBA, Pride Foundation, Legal Voice, the ACLU of Washington, Equal Rights Washington, Washington Won’t Discriminate, Ingersoll Gender Center, the SAFE Alliance, the Gender Justice League, and many others to defend our hard-fought rights and lead the country with pro-LGBTQ legislation. All of us need to stand together to make sure that the arc of history continues to bend toward justice for all people.