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Snohomish County Gay Men's Task Force wants to make sure that YOU ARE INFORMED. We aim to provide you with information on current and future political issues. It is extremely important that everyone be aware of all the political actions and issues that affect you and other individuals in the GLBT communities in Snohomish County, Washington State and the rest of the United States. Should you choose to be an active member of society and your GLBT community, we will try to  offer a few suggestions for you to consider. Stand up for your rights and let your voice be heard. EVERY VOTE COUNTS!

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Here, finally, is a searchable list of voters who signed Ref. 71 (the measure to deny expansion of Domestic Partnerships) for which we've been waiting a long time:


The opponents of Domestic Partnerships went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court trying desperately to keep their names a secret. With the strong backing of our WA Secretary of State the conservative court allowed the signature petitions to be released, agreeing they were public records and finally now we have them available.

From Our Corner BLOG

You can search by surname, zip-code, whatever…. and, if you want, you can see if anyone you know signed Ref. 71. I've already found one of my cousins on the list. Of course I find Val Stevens and John Koster on this list, which should be no surprise. cf

"This is a vote history will want to know, at the end of the day, what side you were on, whether it's women's suffrage or ending segregation laws, history will remember those who had the moral courage to do what was right." -- New Jersey Assemblymember Reed Gusciora on voting for a marriage equality bill

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THE SIGNING! Governor Gregoire signs Domestic Partnership Expansion bill into law by Nick Ardizzone - SGN Staff Writer

On Tuesday, Governor Gregoire signed House bill 3104, the Domestic Partnership Expansion bill, into law at a ceremony in Olympia. The bill expands the rights and responsibilities of domestic partners and grants some of the protections afforded to married couples.

"Lesbian and Gay families deserve equal rights - not more rights, equal rights," Senator Ed Murray wrote in a press release celebrating the signing. "Just a couple of years ago, financial, legal and discrimination protections for same-sex couples was a contentious issue. That has changed. We saw a broad willingness to move forward this year, and the with the governor's signature today, Washington takes another significant step forward."

On Thursday, the Seattle Gay News spoke with Representative Jamie Pedersen and Senator Joe McDermott, who largely echoed the enthusiasm that surrounded the capitol at the time of the bill's passage into law.

"This is a really big and important step on the way to equal treatment for the families of same-sex couples and senior citizen couples who are registered as domestic partners," Pedersen said, adding that he felt the bill's movement through the House and Senate was "a really important step in educating our members down here, and in the general public, about the harm that our families experience by not having access to civil marriage."

The powerful testimony from members of the GLBT community stirred tremendous support from the legislature, Pedersen said. "What was just stunning about it was to look at the array of legislators who are standing behind their Gay colleagues & unfortunately, we don't have any open Lesbians in the legislature. I'm guessing there were probably 40 people who took their time to come and stand with us for a bill signing - that's pretty unusual; usually bill signings are down in the Governor's conference room and the bill's sponsor might or might not be there, and almost no one else comes. & But the sense of ownership that people have come to have over this issue and over correcting this injustice, I think, bodes very well for our prospects in the future."

McDermott, while unmistakably proud of the progress, was more reserved. "It doesn't surprise me that people want to celebrate another step toward full equality, and I'm glad that Governor Gregoire is such a partner in that effort," he said. "While [domestic partnerships] still lack over half the rights married couples enjoy, we're making significant progress for same-sex couples."

"As we wait for the bill to take effect, we should be happy with our accomplishments, but by all means there's more work to be done," he said.

Pedersen put the bill's passage into perspective by reflecting on how far the civil rights movement has come. "We have a series of other issues, such as surrogacy and parenting, and adoption, where we are not yet treated with equal dignity. There's more to do, but you have to look at what we saw yesterday and think how remarkable it is that less than two years ago we had literally nothing from the state. No recognition, no rights, and for us to have come to a place where we have near supermajorites in both houses voting in favor of recognizing our families, and we have now close to 200 rights and responsibilities given to us, that's a very exciting development."

McDermott and Pedersen agreed that now was no time for complacency. "The work goes on constantly," Pedersen said. "We're already starting to talk with people about what our steps will be for next year, and of course the most important work of the next seven and-a-half months is going to be that we continue to build a majority of supporters down here in the legislature, and that we re-elect the Governor."

"There's very little question that the biggest threat to our continued progress would be the election of Dino Rossi."

Pedersen urged supporters of civil rights to mobilize, get politically active, and vote. "In a close election, the difference between a 60% turnout and a 62% turnout in King County will absolutely swing the election," he explained. "Unfortunately, a large number of our friends and neighbors don't even bother" to vote.

"We need to let people know how much is at stake for our community in this election," he said.

Although there are still many battles to fight on the road to equality, Pedersen did take time out Tuesday night to bask in the recent glory. "I'm a little under the weather, so after I sent [my partner] Eric and our son, Tryg, home, I did go out to dinner with a few other folks from here and we raised a toast to the success."

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Gov. Gregoire signs Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill into law Eyman; Christian Coalition promise ballot challenge
Full story:Passage and signing of the Civil Rights bill

Washington Won't Discriminate
more info goto:www.washingtonwontdiscriminate.org

Olympia, WA (January 9, 2006) -- A group of some of the biggest companies in Washington state, including Microsoft and Boeing, sent a letter this week to Republican and Democratic legislative leaders supporting gay-rights legislation.

Although many companies have backed the measure individually or in groups in the past, supporters say this is the first time so many prominent businesses have jointly signed a letter endorsing the bill.

The letter supports House Bill 2661, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. "It remains legal in 38 states to fire someone because of their sexual orientation," the letter, dated Jan. 10, states. "This is not only bad for business, it is bad for America."

In addition to Microsoft and Boeing, the letter was signed by people representing Corbis, Hewlett-Packard, Nike, RealNetworks and Vulcan.

Equal Rights Washington, a group lobbying in favor of the bill, organized the effort and sent copies of the letter to reporters Wednesday.

House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said he expects the gay-rights bill to pass out of the House and go to the Senate within the next two weeks. State law now bans discrimination by race, sex, religion, marital status, disability and other categories. The bill would add sexual orientation to that list.

For gay-rights supporters, Microsoft stands out because the company was neutral on the measure last session, a decision that grew into a major flap.

The gay-rights measure failed by one vote in the state Senate last year.

Microsoft's decision to withdraw its support for the bill was publicized the day of the vote. The company was heavily criticized by gay-rights supporters for the action, although several lawmakers said it didn't affect their vote. A few weeks later, Microsoft publicly reversed its position and said it would support the legislation this year.

Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, a longtime sponsor of the gay-rights bill, said the letter "feeds the argument that business is for this and Republicans should support it."

Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester, Thurston County, an opponent of the bill, predicted the letter won't have much effect. "I don't think it makes a difference to the people I know who oppose it," he said.

In fact, "it may solidify the resolve of folks who oppose it," Swecker said.

The Rev. Joseph Fuiten, pastor of Cedar Park Assembly of God Church in Bothell, also said he doubts the letter will sway lawmakers. And he questions whether the businesses that signed the letter will put much effort into backing the bill.

"I don't think you'll see Microsoft putting a lot of energy behind this," said Fuiten, who also is chairman of the Faith and Freedom Network, which opposes the legislation. "If anything, all Microsoft will do is give a nod of the head to it."

Lou Gellos, a Microsoft spokesman, said that's not true. "We're actively lobbying for the bill," he said. "We're down there every day."

Democrats have been trying to pass gay-rights legislation for more than 20 years. It's passed the House several times, only to be blocked by Senate Republicans.

Supporters think they may have their best shot yet at passing the bill this year because Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, R-Kirkland, recently voiced support for the measure. Finkbeiner voted against the bill last year.

Andrew Garber: 360-943-9882 or agarber@seattletimes.com

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