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Debate Reopens On Gay Rights Opponents To File Initiatives On Adoptions, ‘Special Rights’

Anti-gay rights activists plan to file initiatives today to ban “special rights” for gays, to block schools from presenting homosexuality in a positive light, and to ban gay adoptions.

Foes are girding to fight both measures, essentially a rerun of last year’s battle against similar initiatives. A “decline-to-sign” campaign, along with other opposition strategies, is expected, said “Hands Off Washington” spokeswoman Diane McDade.

In the case of both initiatives, sponsors are looking for a vote in the Legislature or the general election ballot in 1996. By filing initiatives to the Legislature, backers will have until the end of the year, rather than a July deadline, to submit enough signatures to qualify.

The deadline was a stumbling block last year, when two anti-gay rights initiatives failed to collect the requisite 181,667 valid signatures.

If validated, the measures would go to lawmakers next January. They could pass them, let them go to the voters or place alternatives on the ballot.

Sponsors say they’ve also learned from last year not to run competing initiatives. This time around, their plans dovetail and backers say they like each other’s plan.

An initiative sponsored by the Washington Committee for Equal Rights Not Special Rights would prohibit the state or local governments from “granting protectedclass status based solely on homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality and transvestism.”

It also says schools could not portray homosexuality as healthy or appropriate behavior.

It’s an exact rerun of last year’s Initiative 608, a measure that very nearly qualified for the ballot.

“This is pretty popular,” said Annetta Small, Bellingham, the group’s Western Washington cochairwoman.


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