Tuesday, September 4, 2012

YWCA Supports Ref 74

By Dena Horton, Public Policy Committee Chair

As a 501(c)3, YWCA Clark County is prohibited from supporting political candidates.  However, the law does permit for the support or opposition of issues. As you know, on February 13, 2012, Governor Chris Gregoire signed legislation legalizing marriage for all families in the State of Washington.  The elected officials of Washington chose to make our state the 7th state to legalize marriage for all of its citizens.  Almost immediately, several groups began gathering signatures and filed to have the issue brought before the citizens of Washington State via the initiative and referendum process.  As a result, the people of Washington State, not just the elected officials, will have the opportunity to vote this November on Referendum 74 to uphold the same sex marriage law or overturn it.

YWCA’s mission is to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. This mission and the core values it represents easily lends itself to support marriage for all people. YWCA Clark County’s public policy statement on oppression is simply, “Oppression is the dominance of one group over another, resulting in hardship and injustice.”

When government structures are formed and operated in a manner that institutionalizes discrimination against a segment of its citizens, that government system becomes a form of institutionalized oppression.  Action must be taken to correct the system and allow all citizens to be treated fairly.  That is the main reason Governor Gregoire signed the bill into law – to require Washington State government to treat all of its citizens equally.

If a person resides in Washington State, abides by the law and pays taxes, that person is accorded certain rights and benefits as a citizen of Washington including the right to marry and have that marriage recognized by the state government and its agencies. However, if a person resides in Washington State, abides by the law, pays taxes, and that person is LGBTQ, the State of Washington and its agencies should not be allowed to discriminate against this citizen based on their sexual orientation and deny that person the rights and benefits the state accords to other citizens.  It is about justice, equality, dignity, and eliminating a form of institutional oppression.

In addition to YWCA Clark County, there are other organizations such as Washington United for Marriage and Equal Rights Washington that are mobilizing at the grass roots level across the entire to support Referendum 74 in the November election. Ty Stober, the Board Chair of Equal Rights Washington, lives in Vancouver and stated, “The LGBT community in Southwest Washington is so grateful to YWCA Clark County for their courageous leadership in the fight for human dignity. It is such an honor to be partner with them in the campaign to Approve Referendum 74 and guarantee the freedom to marry for all of our families.”  Over the next few weeks, YWCA Clark County will be implementing an action plan to more visibly demonstrate support for Referendum 74. Be on the look out for ways you can help  support Referendum 74 and if you have any questions, contact Natalie Wood at 360 906 9137 or nwood@ywcaclarkcounty.org.

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