Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Microsoft, Google: major businesses came together Friday to oppose restricting access to bathrooms and locker rooms for transgender people.
A coalition of corporate heavyweights gathered Friday evening to announce its opposition to the initiative campaign seeking to restrict access to bathrooms and locker rooms for transgender people.
The endorsement list for Washington Businesses Won’t Discriminate features a host of local, regional and national players, including Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Adobe, Airbnb, Microsoft, Vulcan and Google. A news release says the number of businesses tops 150.
The formal announcement came Friday night at the Amazon Event Center, with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Vicci Martinez, a finalist in the TV show “The Voice,” leading the event.
The coalition adds to a number of political and community members opposed to proposed Initiative 1515.
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The I-1515 campaign, Just Want Privacy, will need to turn in about 246,000 valid signatures by July 8 to get the initiative on the ballot. Joseph Backholm, one of the campaign’s leaders, acknowledged Friday that his group may not get enough signatures.
I-1515 would amend state anti-discrimination law so access to “private facilities” could be limited to those who are “biologically” male or female regardless of their gender identity, according to a summary of the ballot measure.
It also calls for restricting state and local regulations regarding gender-identity discrimination and permitting lawsuits against schools that allow access to facilities based on gender identity.
The businesses that came together Friday “are really standing up against discrimination,” said Heather Weiner, spokeswoman for Washington Won’t Discriminate.
Businesses also oppose the initiative because, she said, “they are not able to compete unless they are able to attract the best employees, some of whom are transgender men and women.” .
Laws similar to I-1515 in other states, such as North Carolina, have sparked economic boycotts by businesses and entertainers.
I-1515 comes after a state regulation by the Human Rights Commission took effect in December, guaranteeing access to locker rooms, restrooms and similar facilities according to an individual’s gender identity. It affects public and private buildings, including schools, restaurants, stores and most places of employment. The commission has said the rule just clarifies a 2006 state law.
But it ignited a backlash among some conservatives and others who said they worry such access could let sexual predators more easily enter private spaces and potentially harm women or children.
Just Want Privacy has gathered about 25,000 signatures, according to its website. The group hasn’t drawn the large contributions often necessary to organize a statewide ballot campaign. Public records show it has raised about $126,000, with $7,500 spent on paid signature gatherers.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Backholm, who is also executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington.
Backholm said he was unaware of the Friday event by Washington Businesses Won’t Discriminate.