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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spin Control

Transgender bathroom initiative dead

OLYMPIA – Voters will not get a chance this fall to decide whether to keep or cancel a state rule allowing transgender people to use bathrooms and other public facilities based on gender identity, not biology.

Sponsors of Initiative 1515, which would have overturned a rule approved late last year by the state Human Rights Commission, notified state elections officials late Thursday they will not turn in their petitions before Friday’s deadline. The political committee, registered as Just Want Privacy, had scheduled a Friday morning appointment to deliver signatures, but told the Secretary of State’s office it didn’t have enough signatures to meet the threshold.

The organization’s website said Thursday evening it had 181,278 signatures in, with less than a day to go before the deadline. An initiative petition requires 246,372 valid signatures from registered voters, and campaigns usually turn in 300,000 or more to account for duplicates and invalid signatures.

Opponents of the measure had predicted earlier in the day I-1515 would not have enough signatures to turn in. Seth Kirby, chairman of Washington Won't Discriminate, said the campaign's failure sent a "clear message" that state residents value fairness and equality. 

Efforts to repeal the rule in the Legislature also failed this year. Some Republican lawmakers agreed with opponents that sexual predators could use the rule to gain unfettered access to women's restrooms or locker rooms and commit sexual assaults. They proposed legislation that required people to use those facilities based on their biology or genitalia. The one bill that made it to the Senate floor failed on a rare 24-25 vote which saw three Republicans break with the Majority Coalition to vote no, and two Democrats vote to change the rule. 

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981 and retired in 2021. He is currently the political and state government correspondent covering Washington state.

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