Friday marks the deadline for collecting signatures for ballot initiatives in the state of Washington, and a coalition of anti-LGBT conservatives has fallen far short of the signatures necessary to qualify their anti-transgender petition.
The “Just Want Privacy” campaign, fueled primarily by the Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW), had proposed Initiative 1515, which largely mirrored North Carolina’s HB2, circumventing the state’s nondiscrimination law to ban transgender people from restrooms that match their gender identity. It would have also allowed students to sue schools if they saw transgender students allowed into bathrooms that match their gender identity.
But on Thursday, Just Want Privacy cancelled their appointment to deliver petitions to the Secretary of State. If the counter on their website is any indication, they failed to collect even two-thirds of the 300,000 signatures they were hoping to collect. Initiatives require 246,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot, but even if every signature they collected had been valid, they’d have still fallen far short.
Friday morning, the campaign’s leaders published a statement on their website conceding failure. “Just Want Privacy will not give up the fight to protect the state’s girls and women and is considering all of its options for repealing the ‘Open Locker Room’ rule,” they promised. “The current law is grotesquely dangerous and in need of dramatic revision.”
Just a week ago, they were bragging that they were “almost there.”
— Just Want Privacy (@PrivacyForWA) July 1, 2016
The Just Want Privacy campaign tried to capitalize on the same scare tactics as other anti-trans efforts, demonizing transgender people as predators and making false claims about how nondiscrimination protections allow non-transgender people free access to the wrong restroom.
Perhaps most insidiously, the campaign attempted to create the very problem they claimed they were trying to solve. Joseph Backholm, director of the FPIW, repeatedly told male petition collectors during trainings to camp out near restrooms and follow women into their restrooms to convince them to sign.
Seth Kirby, chair of the Washington Won’t Discriminate coalition that resisted the I-1515 effort, celebrated the victory Thursday. “As a transgender man, I’m encouraged that voters didn’t buy the pitch that repealing our state’s non-discrimination protections for transgender people would somehow make everyone safer,” he said in a statement. “Washingtonians value fairness and equality and we believe that everyone in our state should be able to earn a living, frequent a business, earn an education, and raise a family free from the fear of discrimination.”