September 19, 1997 in City

Voters Urged To Bar Gay Discrimination Locke Says ‘Radical Right’ Targets Initiative 677

Associated Press

State voters have a moral and patriotic duty to approve an initiative to bar employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, Gov. Gary Locke said Thursday.

Initiative 677 “is one of the simplest, shortest and clearest initiatives ever put before the people of Washington,” Locke told a luncheon fund-raiser for backers of the measure. “It also is one of the most important.”

Locke said the “radical right” has waged a smear campaign against the initiative, which will go before voters at the Nov. 4 general election.

“They make the old, tired and utterly false claim that this simple act of justice will extend ‘special rights’ to gays and lesbians,” he said. “We all know how utterly misleading that argument is.”

Locke said the initiative would simply allow homosexuals to earn a living without discrimination.

“When I tell people that it’s legal to fire people simply because they are gays or lesbians, most people can’t believe that’s true,” the governor said.

Locke, the nation’s first Chinese-American governor, said his family has struggled with the same problems of discrimination that many gays and lesbians face today.

Locke said he believes “that when the majority of the voters in this state know the truth, they will do the right thing” and pass the initiative.

The luncheon at the 75th-floor Columbia Tower Club in downtown Seattle was attended by about 100 people. It raised more than $20,000 for the initiative campaign, said Suone Cotner of Hands Off Washington, a sponsor of the event.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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