Joe Mirabella

Civil Rights Under Attack in Washington State

Filed By Joe Mirabella | February 23, 2011 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Budget Cuts, Charlene Strong, civil rights, human rights abuses, Washington State

Recent budget cuts have resulted in a disturbing developments that will directly harm the LGBT community.

olympia-capital.jpgI met with Charlene Strong this weekend to discuss her concerns as the Human Rights Commissioner. She shared the message with you on her blog.

I went to Olympia last week to hear the state's proposal to cut costs, yet still protect those represented by various agencies, and in a classic "square peg into a round hole" maneuver, commissions that serve advisory functions for various minorities will be consolidated with the Human Rights Commission and clearly, no one is pleased. This reorganization was proposed with little consideration for the opinions and experiences of Human Rights Commissioners and/or the Office of Human Rights, resulting in the glaring omission of needed protections for the LGBT community. They where nowhere to be found in any civil rights reorganization proposal presented by our state.

Again, as if we are invisible, there is no language that speaks to our lives. Every ethnic minority was acknowledged in the re-organizational charts and in Senate Bill 5557, and each existing commission was addressed by name in the reorganization, but guess who wound up standing outside looking in? Need a hint? That's because we have never had a commission for our civil rights in this state, so again we have no representation for our rights.

A phrase that I hear over and over in this march toward equality is that we all have to play in the sandbox together, and yes that is true, but in the sandbox I see, we aren't even allowed to get in.

The struggle for minority rights is nothing new. Our society's legacy is littered with bigotry, intolerance and, on too many occasions, a stumbling history of not getting it right for many of our citizens. We still have much to learn, and not surprising to anyone, we have those that think they have been "called" by a higher power to justify their discrimination of others. These opinions and beliefs are worn, faulty and regrettable, but what does it say about those charged with ending this behavior when it becomes to challenging to remember all of the groups needing inclusion?

To be continued...

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Cheryl Cristello | February 23, 2011 11:07 AM

Why am I not surprised, afterall the LGBT community is rather invisible to the majority of people. Why is this? The answer is fairly simple, except for those trans women like myself we are largely invisible and thus people tend to think that the need for protection of LGBT rights is of such little consequence to not be of significance and thus unworthy of a commission and certainly the allocation of public funds.
What can we do to change this- tell our stories, allow people to really get to know us a real people with real need of protection of our rights as fellow citizens. Society expects us to do certain things such as pay taxes, obey traffic laws, etc. so why would society not be more than willing to ensure that our rights as good, responsible citizens?
In such matters I love the following quote and believe it applicable in this situation "Well-behaved women rarely make historyā€¯ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Washington state? Hell, the United States!!