Today, a diverse group of faith leaders from across the state released an open letter to fellow religious leaders and people of faith urging them to search search their hearts and consider the impact on others before helping advance I-1552, a dangerous ballot initiative that seeks to roll back non-discrimination protections for transgender Washingtonians.
The interfaith letter is signed by, among others, Northwest Washington Synod Bishop Kirby Unti, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Bishop Greg Rickel, Presiding Elder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Spencer Barrett, and Temple Beth El Rabbi Bruce Kadden.
In the letter, the group makes clear that there are many people of diverse faiths and traditions who believe faith should never be used to hurt others, and that there is simply no excuse for singling out the most vulnerable among us for harassment and discrimination—least of all a religious one.
The letter reads, in part:
“We are followers of many different faiths that share a basic common tenet: love our neighbors as ourselves—including those who may seem different from us …
We should not single out our transgender neighbors for different treatment and potentially put their safety at risk with a proposal that would have unintended consequences for all of us.
We have prayed about this and come to believe that protecting people from discrimination is about treating others as we want to be treated—including people who are transgender—and we should all be treated equally under the law.
Please search your heart and do not allow the backers of I-1552 to sow fear and distrust among us.”
Yet sowing fear and distrust is exactly what proponents of the anti-transgender I-1552 are doing through their words and deeds as they attempt to gather enough signatures to place this dangerous initiative on November’s ballot.
Take, for example, the claim that I-1552 would somehow increase Washingtonians’ privacy and safety. Today’s letter debunks that, noting that Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick, the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs and other public safety officials and groups have warned that:
“I-1552 would do nothing to improve public safety. It might even make things worse by encouraging strangers to confront and question others in public facilities and violate each other’s privacy and safety by demanding proof of ‘sex at birth.’”
Sowing fear and distrust is also a hallmark tactic of the people and groups these anti-transgender I-1552 backers count as their allies:
First, there’s anti-LGBT pastor Joe Fuiten, who led the opposition to marriage equality in Washington. There’s also the Alliance Defending Freedom, which was recently named an anti-LGBT extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I-1552 backers are also getting help from the anti-LGBT group NC Values Coalition, which most recently tried to convince North Carolina churches to kick out Boy Scout troops using their spaces, after the Scouts announced they would allow troops to admit transgender boys.
This list stands in stark contrast to Washington Won’t Discriminate’s broad coalition of more than 500 law enforcement, clergy, business leaders, violence prevent groups and others opposing efforts to roll back our state’s non-discrimination protections.
Today, we’re proud to count these faith leaders among our members. If you’re a faith leader in your community, or simply a person of faith who believes it is wrong to use religion as a justification for discrimination, join us.