There have been up and down attempts in the last few years in Washington State to pass a basic civil rights bill for the GLBT community. The passed bills have failed because Dominionists such as the American Family Association and a local African-American preacher Rev. Hutcherson have pressured and boycotted companies like Microsoft that have a lot riding on creating a diverse workforce and of course pressuring the legislators.
Now it appears that Washington is taking some steps forward with the passage of a civil rights bill in their House.
Legislation banning discrimination against gays, lesbians, and the transgendered in jobs and housing was passed in the state House on Friday.
The measure was approved on a 60-37 vote.
"This discrimination is a reality,” said Rep. Ed Murray (D-Seattle) leading off final debate on the bill and working diffuse critics who claim there had been no proof the legislation was needed.
The no votes came mainly from Republicans.
"We think this needs to go the people," said House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis). “We don’t think we should impede on the religious freedom."
LGBT civil rights groups have been trying for 30 years to get legislation
The bill now moves to the Senate where it was defeated last year by one vote. (story) Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-Spokane), a supporter of the measure, said the upper chamber will act on the bill quickly.
It is expected the legislation will pass the Senate this time. The senator who cast the deciding vote now says he will support the measure. (story)
The legislation also has the support of some of the biggest corporations in the state including Microsoft, Boeing, Hewlett Packard and Nike.
Last year's defeat of the measure was blamed on Microsoft which originally supported the bill but reversed its stand after threats from a local evangelist to call a national boycott of the computer giant.
Following outrage from the gay community and Microsoft's own LGBT workers the company said it would support the bill in 2006.
Earlier this week, the Reverend Ken Hutcherson made good on his threat and called a national boycott against Microsoft. (story)
Meanwhile the state's Supreme Court is considering a challenge to knock down the state's ban against same-sex marriage. A decision is expected at any time.