The GSBA Blog

  • Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake will cast a spell on you

    by Albert Rodriguez
    | Jan 06, 2017

    Sun Moon LakeMost travelers just pass through Taiwan, but with an opportunity to stay and explore the country, one of the LGBT-friendliest in Asia, I say do it! Taipei is a wonderful place
    to start your journey, but with 8 million people living in and around the capital city,
    a quick venture into a more remote area of the country is definitely worth planning.
    On my recent visit to Taiwan, I was introduced to the lush resort area of Sun
    Moon Lake. Located in the Yuchi Township, Nantou County, this reclusive vacation
    spot is a glorious and peaceful respite from the metropolitan bustle. The majority
    of tourists are Asian, as Sun Moon Lake is still a hidden gem to international travelers,
    so it’s unlikely you’ll come across many Americans or other Westerners there. Cradled by majestic green mountains, the lake is 27 feet deep with a 19-mile perimeter,
    and although the bright blue water seems perfect for swimming, no one is permitted
    to enter the water except during the Swimming Carnival, which happens annually
    in September. Throughout the year, an array of festivals, live concerts and firework
    displays are staged alongside Sun Moon Lake, designated as one of thirteen National
    Scenic Areas in the Republic of China (Taiwan).

    Read more here.

  • GSBA Honors Local Businesses and Community Leaders at Annual Awards Dinner

    | Jan 05, 2017

    (January 05, 2017) -  The GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards dinner on Thursday, February 16, will honor businesses and business leaders, recognizing business performance and contributions to the community. This year, GSBA will honor eight individuals and businesses under the theme of "Building Bridges" at the Business & Humanitarian Awards dinner at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront, 2100 Alaskan Way.

    "Never has the theme of Building Bridges been more relevant. If we are to flourish as a community, we must value our local and independent businesses and support our nonprofits that must stretch to meet the needs of those who may no longer get government support and who provide safety for our most vulnerable. Now more than ever, it's important to recognize value and celebrate the strength we have when we all work together." - Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO

    CAPEHART_145x135The evening will feature Keynote Speaker Jonathan Capehart, a member of The Washington Post editorial board and an MSNBC contributor who appears regularly on Hardball and other dayside programs. Prior to joining The Post in 2007, Capehart was the deputy editor of New York Daily News's editorial page from 2002 to 2005. He worked as a policy adviser to Michael Bloomberg in his successful campaign for mayor of New York City, he was a national affairs columnist for Bloomberg News from 2000 to 2001, and he was a member of the Daily News editorial board from 1993 to 2000.

    The 2016 Business and Humanitarian Award recipients are:

    Business of the Year: ZippyDogs, Elise Lindborg and Kelli Henderson, Co-Owners
    Business Leader of the Year: Ann Paris, Paris Insurance Services
    Corporate Leader of the Year: John Zmolek, Verity Credit Union, President/CEO
    Community Leaders of the Year: David Breland MD, MPH, Seattle Children's Hospital and Aidan Key, Gender Diversity
    New Business of the Year: 701 Coffee, Sara Mae Brereton and Rachel Brereton, Co-Owners
    Non Profit of the Year: YouthCare, Melinda Giovengo, PhD, CEO & President
    Special Recognition - Voice for Economic Justice: Dow Constantine, King County Executive

    Title Sponsor: Wells Fargo
    Presenting Sponsor: Vulcan Inc.
    Event Sponsors: Carter Subaru, Nyhus Communications, RBC Wealth Management, Seattle Goodwill, UW Medicine
    Award Sponsors: BECU, Pride Foundation
    Supporting Sponsors: Girlie Press, Sal Floral Design
    Media Sponsors: Pacific Publishing, Seattle Gay News

    Learn more and register for the event here.
  • The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS)

    | Dec 29, 2016
    With almost 28,000 respondents, the U.S. Trans Survey (USTS) is the largest survey ever devoted to the lives and experiences of trans people. The staff of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the rest of the USTS team are thrilled to share the results of the USTS with us.

    USTS Executive Summary

    The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) is the largest survey examining the experiences of transgender people in the United States, with 27,715 respondents from all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases overseas. Conducted in the summer of 2015 by the National Center for Transgender Equality, the USTS was an anonymous, online survey for transgender adults (18 and older) in the United States, available in English and Spanish. The USTS serves as a follow-up to the groundbreaking 2008–09 National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), which helped to shift how the public and policymakers view the lives of transgender people and the challenges they face. The report of the 2015 USTS provides a detailed look at the experiences of transgender people across a wide range of categories, such as education, employment, family life, health, housing, and interactions with the criminal justice system.

    Read the Executive Summary and full report here.

    The Report launch event, including a presentation of key findings by NCTE Survey Project Manager Sandy E. James and a panel discussion with NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling and Ashe McGovern, Associate Director for the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School can be viewed here.

  • 2016 GSBA Advocacy Report Card

    by Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager.
    | Dec 15, 2016

    2016 was a very busy year for GSBA’s advocacy efforts at all levels.

    WBWD logo WebsizedFirst and foremost, GSBA was a founding member of the S.A.F.E. Alliance to fend off six anti-trans bills in the Washington State Legislature. We then spearheaded the business coalition within the Washington Won’t Discriminate campaign against Initiative 1515 attempting to roll back our 10-year old LGBT civil rights laws. With hundreds of businesses of all sizes signing on to support our existing and critical protections, GSBA was proud to spread the message that equality is good business.

    Another big success in Olympia was passing the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP) bill after three years, providing access to career paths for those with criminal records who have paid their debt to society.

    Every ballot measure that GSBA endorsed in 2016 passed. This included expanding the Seattle Housing Levy, funding a comprehensive regional mass transit system, creating Emergency Risk Protection Orders (I-1491), and raising the statewide minimum wage and implementing paid sick and safe leave (I-1433). We organized business support for a woman’s right to choose in the Whole Women’s Health v. Cole case before the US Supreme Court, which then agreed with many of our points.

    GSBA is thrilled that King County becomes the largest county in the country to recognize LGBT businesses in its supply chain. Together with several of our certified LGBT businesses and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, we joined County Executive Dow Constantine in July for the public announcement. Several GSBA members have already received King County contracts, including Precision Garage Door Service and Gender Justice League.

    At the city level, GSBA and its members have been actively working to bring the small business perspective that is so often lacking in policymaking. We urged the City to assist struggling Central District businesses impacted by construction projects on 23rd Avenue. GSBA participated in the Mayor’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee, and we look forward to turning those recommendations into reality to help our small business members across Seattle. We also worked closely with the City of Seattle on several LGBT issues such as addressing rising bias crimes and implementing a ban on conversion therapy.
    Cantwell Hero GraphicBeing a connector is one of GSBA’s favorite roles. We brought our members and their concerns to every member of Western Washington’s Congressional delegation and many city and county councilmembers across our region. We hosted the US Deputy Secretary of Labor in our office, and dozens of candidates and elected officials at our two annual election-related events.

    We know that our opponents will be back in 2017, and we are ready to amplify the voices of the LGBT and small business communities to bring about equality for all.

    If you would like to get involved with GSBA's monthly Public Policy Task Force, write to Matt Landers, GSBA Public Policy & Communications Manager, to be added to the list.

  • Thank you from GSBA!

    | Dec 15, 2016

    The TASTE of GSBA: Equalux is about a community coming together for its own. How thrilling to see over 800 guests enjoying each other's company, wonderful food, incredible wines, outstanding entertainment; and giving so generously to the GSBA Scholarship Fund.

    We are overwhelmed by your commitment to our current and future Scholars!

    There are so many thank yous to be given for making Equalux such a great success.
    To begin, let's thank Joe Adams and Gladys Gillis, our dream Co-Chairs who led an outstanding TASTE Committee and provided leadership and vision for Equalux; our incredible Board of Directors, led by Kevin Gaspari; Scholarship Chair, Stephanie Dallas; the GSBA Staff led by the visionary Mark Rosén, VP of Development & Corporate Relations, and our incredibly talented and creative Program and Events Manager, Carlos Chavez; and over 100 event volunteers!

    220Following the delicious hors d'oeuvres prepared by GSBA member caterers and restaurants, and the hearty pours provide by member wineries, we were delighted and entertained by The Love Markets, acrobats, aerialists, and light dancers. Thank you to Martha Enson of EnJoy Productions and Llysa Holland from theatre simple, and of course, our very talented pianist Victor Janusz.

    During the dinner, one lucky table was treated to a gourmet meal by celebrity chefs Tamara Murphy (Terra Plata) and Jerry Traunfeld (Poppy, Lionhead). Once again our amazing auctioneer, Laura Michalek, and the delightful emcee, Amanda Westbrooke, kept us engaged and bidding.

    246We heard from Freddy Mora, 2009-2010 GSBA Scholar and UW doctoral student. Following his story of resilience, we were astounded by Sandy Peterson's extraordinary $100,000 gift to create a new endowment in honor of her parents, Ted and Rosie. The flood gates of generosity were opened and Microsoft gave $30,000 in support of our new Leadership Academy. From there, the magic spread, with truly inspiring gifts from Glenn Johnson & Michael Melancon, Kent Thoelke & Kevin Gaspari, Chris Befumo, Jay Petterson & Michael Mattmiller, and Meade Thayer... for a grand total of $807,000 raised that evening! Breathtaking!

    The TASTE of GSBA: Equalux would not be possible without you, our guests, and our wonderful sponsors. A heartfelt thanks to our Title Sponsor: 1st Security Bank; our Presenting Sponsor: Comcast; Event Sponsors: Alaska Airlines, Carter Subaru, Holland America Line, JP Morgan/Chase, Precept Wine, Uber, UW Medicine; Supporting Sponsors: Aria Floral, Fran's Chocolates, Girlie Press, Mrs. Cooks/Le Creuset, Reliable Movers; 2016 Voice of Scholarship: Interchange Media; and Media Sponsors: Encore Media Group, Pacific Publishing, Seattle Gay News, Seattle Gay Scene, and Seattle Met.

    We are especially appreciative of our Jewels of GSBA who make a significant investment the Chamber and the Scholarship Fund. Thank you to our Diamond jewels: Wells Fargo and Microsoft; Emerald jewels: Alaska Airlines and 1st Security Bank; Ruby jewel: PwC; and Sapphire jewels: Carter Subaru and Comcast. And, what would TASTE be without our wonderful restaurant, catering, and wine sponsors: Barrio Mexican Kitchen + Bar, The Hi-Life, Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge, Red Cedar & Sage, Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar, Taylor Shellfish Farms, Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering, Two Tartes Catering, Bartholomew Winery, Browne Family Cellars, Caprio Cellars, Eight Bells Winery, Elsom Cellars, Damsel Cellars, Fidelitas Winery, Five Star Cellars, Goose Ridge Estate Winery, Gorman Winery, Gruet, Guardian Cellars, Laurelhurst Cellars, Nota Bene Cellars,Rotie Cellars Structure Cellars, and Va Piano Vineyards.

    And finally, no "thank you" is complete without recognizing the ongoing generosity of our Annual Sponsors. Thank you to our Platinum Partner: US Bank; Gold Sponsors: BulkFr8, Outerwall, Pacific Medical Centers, Starline Luxury Coaches; Silver Sponsors: Amazon, Boeing, Seattle Goodwill, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Precision Garage Door, RBC Wealth Management, Safeco Insurance, Starbucks, UW Medicine; Bronze Sponsors: CenturyLink, DML Insurance, Group Health, Google, Irons Brothers Construction, Mona Smith, Nesteggg, RD House, Sound Fertility Care, Sound Publishing, Sound Transit, Verity Credit Union, and Vulcan; The 2016-2017 Guide & Directory Sponsor: BECU; Travel Partners: Alaska Airlines, Sheraton Hotel, Space Needle, Visit Seattle; Travel Sponsors: Amtrak, King County, Port of Seattle, and Renaissance Hotel; Marketing Partner: Girlie Press; and Media Sponsors: C89.5, Encore Media Group, Pacific Publishing, Puget Sound Business Journal, Seattle Gay Scene, Seattle Gay News, and Seattle Met.

    Because of all of you, our Scholars have the hope and support they need to become the next generation of leaders. Truly an evening for which to be thankful.

    If you were not at the TASTE, there is still time to be part of the magic of giving. We invite you to make a year-end gift to your GSBA Scholarship Fund here.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,
    Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO

  • Member Profile: Christy Brooker

    | Dec 15, 2016

    By Christy Brooker, owner of Damask Tattoo and Laughing Buddha Tattoo & Bodypiercing.

    I started working at a tattoo studio right out of high school in 1997. I knew I wanted to be an artist, but the wannabe punk rocker in me didn’t want to work for The Man. I realized in my senior year that doing tattoos was a way to make living in art, be super cool, and probably popular.

    Despite my attempts over the years to look like a badass, I’ve been told by several people that I’ll never lose the innocent and friendly look that I was born with. Only time will tell.

    I worked at the studio in my hometown of Missoula, Montana for a few years. After completing a tattoo apprenticeship, I realized the town was way too small for the big dreams of my 21-year-old self, so I started planning my move to the big city!

    In 2001, I arrived in Seattle and tattooed at several amazing studios in the area before opening my own in 2009. Damask Tattoo was born out of my desire to create a tattoo studio that was warm, welcoming and friendly - a space with a vibe more spa than biker parlor. Damask calls upper Queen Anne home and is well known for being the all-women tattoo studio. But not everyone here is, or identifies as, women. We hold an inclusive environment with a feminine touch.

    When the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arose to purchase the 20-year-old landmark on Capitol Hill, Laughing Buddha Tattoo & Body Piercing, I jumped at the chance! Laughing Buddha has always been a woman-owned studio, and we were excited to keep it that way. The people at Laughing Buddha are incredibly kind and welcoming. We’re planning a complete makeover coming in the new year and we invite everyone to come take a look.

    It’s very important to me to be a member of GSBA because I can’t possibly keep up with all the changes in laws or threats to equality that would affect us all. It makes me feel good to be a member of an organization that does and can. I am also a very proud member of SEW, GSBA’s Seattle Entrepreneurial Woman group. I look forward to meeting with SEW every month to gain inspiration and keep up with the latest changes in laws and business. It’s also a monthly reminder that we’re not alone and that there are other women business owners who are happy to help or just grab a cup of coffee and talk about the hilarity of owning a business.

    I feel incredibly lucky to live and work in Seattle. This is my home and will be for a very long time. During this season especially, I feel honored, humbled and blessed to curl up to the warmth of the Seattle people. This is such a beautiful and accepting city. It’s good to be a part of something bigger and know that we’re all working hard to keep Seattle inclusive and safe. Happy, whatever holiday, if any, you celebrate and I wish you a prosperous and joyful new year!

  • Ambassador of the Month: Tomo Uehara & The Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival

    by Tomo Uehara
    | Dec 08, 2016

    IMG_7455It had been nearly three and a half years since I last visited my family in Okinawa, Japan. This time, I was feeling differently to be home than ever before.

    I moved to the U.S. in 2008 with two suitcases, seeking new opportunities. I left everything behind to start a new life in the dream land, or at least that’s what I thought. However, the first few years of life in the US did not go as I planned. I struggled a lot to find my path, struggled financially, and lost my motivation. Even more, I started losing my identity. “Why am I here?” “Who am I?” “Who is this Tomo?” My optimistic personality helped me get me back on my feet, and things are going well now and I even became a U.S. citizen in June 2014, but I never could have imagined such difficult transition in my new life.

    Now, fast forward to October 2016. Back to my homeland for 11 days. As always I had an amazing time with my family and friends. But this time was different and I was about to rediscover my heritage and identity.

    Over 110 years ago, many Okinawans migrated to Hawaii and South America to look for a better life. They worked very hard in hopes of creating a better life for themselves – just as many other immigrants to the Americas did. Even as more than a century passed, these Okinawans passed their traditions and pride of being Okinawan onto succeeding generations.

    Every five years, Okinawan government hosts its largest international event -- the Worldwide Uchinanchu (Okinawan) Festival -- offering thousands of overseas Okinawans an opportunity to return to their roots. Even though it was my first time attending, as the newly elected President of the Okinawa Kenjin Club of Washington State, I led a group of 150 PNW Okinawans to attend this event.

    During this five-day event, I met so many Okinawans from different parts of the world speaking languages like Portuguese, Spanish, English, Chinese, German, and French. Most of them did not even speak Japanese, as they were in their second, third, or even fourth generation abroad. For some of them, it was their very first time visiting their ancestors’ homeland.

    IMG_7461While I grew up on Okinawa myself, almost everything was a new experience to many of them. They were searching for their ancestors’ roots, meeting their long-lost relatives, and feeling the Okinawan breeze.  What amazed me was that these people born all around the world were so proud to be Okinawan. I almost felt ashamed that they felt more “Okinawan” than I did. These younger generations were filled with pride and a strong identity with a culture that they may never have been able to experience firsthand. I told myself that the hardships of my own migration were nothing compared to those who migrated over 100 years ago.

    As I walked down Kokusai Street in Naha City with my fellow Washington Okinawans (in Seahawks colors!), tens of thousands of people cheered “Welcome home!” to all of us. I have never felt so overwhelmed, and being home was much more than just seeing my family and friends. I am so proud to be Okinawan! Now it is my turn to pass on these great assets to next generation!

  • Letter from Uber on Rideshare Regulations

    | Dec 05, 2016

    GSBA has not yet taken any position on the issues mentioned below. As a matter of policy, GSBA does not weigh in on matters of unionization. Uber is a member of GSBA and has asked that we post this letter for our membership to see.

    We’re reaching out to our community partners about the City’s plans to deny thousands of drivers the right to vote on their future, which puts local jobs at risk and could make it difficult for rideshare companies like Uber to continue operating in Seattle.


    The City has just released draft rules to implement a law that enables the Teamsters to represent rideshare, for-hire, and taxi drivers. These rules give a minority of drivers the power to make decisions for everyone. They also offer no protections for driver privacy or protection from harassment or retaliation from the union.


    Uber respects and upholds the right of drivers to decide whether they want to be represented by a union. We believe every driver should have a voice in that decision. We hope you’ll support our effort to let the City know the current approach is not right. The deadline for public comment is Tuesday, December 6 and there are several ways you can get involved:


    1. Take a minute to hear the perspective of Debra, a local Uber driver-partner.
    2. Visit to learn more and reach out to the City of Seattle.
    3. Let @CityofSeattle know that #EveryDriverCounts and share on Twitter and Facebook.
    4. Sign up to join the Drive Forward Community Advisory Committee.
    5. Sign up to attend a public hearing at City Hall on December 6 at 1:30 p.m.
    6. Forward this email to your network and urge others to speak up for Seattle drivers.

    Brooke Steger
    General Manager, Uber PNW
  • Taiwan shows its true rainbow colors on Pride weekend

    by Albert Rodriguez
    | Nov 11, 2016

    TAIWAN PRIDE 2016This might surprise you, but Taiwan is one of the most open-minded countries in all of Asia. In fact, it’s arguably the safest, Gay-friendliest place in the Far East to live or visit, while playing host each year to Asia’s largest LGBT Pride festivities. The island nation is also on the brink of legalizing same-sex marriage, which would be a first for that part of the world.

    On October 28 and 29, the capital city of Taipei was the location for two well-attended, highly publicized events, Taiwan LGBT Pride and the newly formed Queermosa Awards. I was privileged to attend both, as part of a group of fellow Gay journalists from North America invited to experience the culture and sites of the country, traveling to a handful of cities, including Taipei.

    Read more here.

  • Special Message from Your LGBTQ Community Leaders

    | Nov 09, 2016

    Despair, sadness, and shock are what so many of us are feeling this morning.
    How did our country, even with all its faults, elect a new leader that has campaigned with such total disregard for so many that make up the fabric of our nation? For so many of us who represent the breadth of differences that strengthen the country -- our LGBTQ families and friends; the differently-abled; racial, ethnic, and religious minorities; and all women -- today is a hard day. We need to acknowledge the profound kick in the gut we all feel and then, as we have always done, we will continue with more fervor than ever, persevere in our work to challenge discrimination and promote equality for all.
    In Washington State we still have a lot going for us. We have an amazing network of organizations that provide us with care and safety. We have elected leaders on the city, state and federal levels who will fight harder than ever for all of us. Yesterday we re-elected and elected decent, principled people to represent us and we successfully passed important initiatives such as increasing the state's minimum wage, a new gun safety measure, and a comprehensive regional mass transit system.
    Seattle's LGBT executive directors meet regularly to ensure that in challenging times we know who to turn to, and in joyous times how to come together to celebrate. This morning's meeting left us compelled to reaffirm our commitment to each of you and our community as a whole. Whatever your needs, we will be there for you. Whether you turn to film, music or the arts to heal and enrich your life. Whether you are searching for health care or struggling with mental health or addiction challenges. Whether you need safety from sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Whether you are looking to support underfunded nonprofits or are building a vibrant and economically healthy community as an entrepreneur. Your community stands ready to support you as we all continue our journey to be your voice for equality and to safeguard your civil rights as LGBTQ people. 
    If you are feeling emotionally overwhelmed or scared or sad, remember to reach out to talk with a friend, co-worker, or family member to share your feelings. If you need help, call Seattle Counseling Service's 24-Hour Crisis Line at 1-866-427-4747 for emotional support and care.
    We are family, we always have been, and we are stronger together.
    For equality,
    Danni Askini, Gender Justice League
    Connie Burk, The NW Network
    Louise Chernin, GSBA (Greater Seattle Business Association)
    Gary Davis, Companis
    Barbara Ebert, Lifelong
    Kris Hermanns, Pride Foundation
    Ann McGettigan, Seattle Counseling Service
    Jason Plourde, Three Dollar Bill Cinema
    Luis Fernando Ramirez, Entre Hermanos
    Steve Smith, Seattle Men's Chorus/Seattle Women's Chorus
    Fred Swanson, Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center
    Josh Wallace, SASG (Seattle Area Support Groups and Community Center)
  • GSBA Letter on Proposed Seattle Head Tax

    | Nov 04, 2016

    GSBA sent this letter to the Seattle City Council in response to a proposal to implement an employee headcount tax to fund the Office of Labor Standards.

    Honorable Councilmembers,

    GSBA, one of the largest chambers in Washington with over 1,200 members, has supported the creation of an Office for Labor Standards and was a champion that this office be independent from the Office of Civil Rights. Given the importance to economic health of small business in our city, GSBA feels it is essential that this funding come from the city’s general fund and we applaud that the Mayor’s budget proposal shows that the City’s general fund can indeed readily address a much-needed expansion of the office.


    The current proposal by the City Council to fund the Office for Labor Standards with a head tax on businesses of all sizes is the surest way to discourage growth and give a disincentive to businesses considering expansion. The increase in fees would range from several hundred dollars per year to hundreds of thousands of dollars. For small businesses, increasing taxes on an already fragile existence in this increasingly expensive city could push them out of business or put a curb on any expansion. This increase would come as businesses in our city have consistently invested in what is best for this city and our communities. We already generate 50 percent of the tax revenue for the City of Seattle’s general fund and have been waiting for the city to do its part to demonstrate its support for our business community.


    GSBA believes in businesses investing in their employees and treating them right. That is why we are a proud supporter of Initiative 1433 to raise the minimum wage and implement paid sick and safe time at the state level. We have been a good-faith partner to the City as Seattle proposes and implements additional labor standards every year, even as the concerns and realities of small businesses are dismissed at nearly every turn.


    The cost of living and the cost of doing business is rising fast for Seattle, partially through the growth we are currently experiencing and partially through the intentional work of the City. While each individual policy might not have a significant impact, the cumulative effect is piling on our businesses, especially for the smallest businesses which anchor our neighborhoods and communities. A head tax on businesses makes it harder for businesses to increase their staff – the opposite of what should be the City’s goal.


    As you continue your deliberations, we strongly urge you to support the Mayor’s proposal for continuing to fund the Office of Labor Standards through the general fund. Implementing our city’s labor laws does not require a separate funding source but a clear commitment of support that the City of Seattle understands that everyone benefits from a healthy business environment and therefore, funding for this vital office be supported by Seattle’s General Fund.


    For equality,

    Louise Chernin, President & CEO

  • Member Candidate: Dan Shih

    | Oct 30, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Dear fellow GSBA members,

    DanShihHeadshot1I’m Dan Shih, candidate for state representative in the 43rd District.  As an openly gay legal professional and a father of three girls in a two-dad household, I am deeply thankful for the GSBA’s advocacy over the last thirty-five years on behalf of our community.  Our district has a history of electing great leaders, and I hope to continue the tradition and to be a champion for LGBTQ equality and the concerns of businesses and professionals in our community.

    I’m honored that SEAMEC has given me its highest rating for leadership on LGBTQ issues.  I have been a dedicated advocate for our community through my work at QLaw to make the legal system fairer for LGBTQ people, as a board member at the ACLU of Washington advising on our civil rights projects, and as a volunteer attorney for Lambda Legal.  While we have made amazing advances in recent years, there is still work to do—for example, helping LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems, protecting our LGBTQ elders, and ensuring equality for our transgender friends.

    As a working parent, I know how challenging it is to work a demanding job and provide for one’s family while making time for parenting and serving one’s community.  I also understand how hard it is to run a business.  I saw my parents struggle to make a success of their own small business.  Before starting my law practice, I was a business consultant and helped manage several companies.  Now, as an attorney, I know the challenges of running a professional practice.  I will be a representative who takes into account the unique difficulties that small businesses and professionals face and who works to find creative solutions that help working people while understanding the needs of employers.

    I am honored to be endorsed by The Seattle Times, which described me as the candidate who “has the disposition and talent to be a diligent, creative, workhorse lawmaker.”  I was also the sole candidate to receive an “Outstanding” rating from the Municipal League for being “a path-finding and respected leader” who “brings knowledge and creativity to issues facing the office.”  In addition, many get-things-done leaders have endorsed me, including State Senator Jamie Pedersen, former Mayor Norm Rice, and former Governor Gary Locke.

    I hope to earn your vote!  To learn more, please visit my website at or my Facebook page at

    Yours truly,
    -Dan Shih

  • 21 Years Out in the Heart of Madison Valley

    | Oct 28, 2016
    baasKarrie Baas, owner of Baas Framing Studio & The Madison Art Collective has been a member of GSBA since 1995.

    Karrie started picture-framing in 1984 in Anchorage, Alaska.  She and her wife of 30 years moved to Seattle in 1989 and Karrie enrolled at Cornish College of the Arts. After graduating in 1995 she found her space at the corner of Madison and 27th Avenue to open her own shop. Baas Framing Studio is proud to employ 3 artists.

    "I feel so lucky to have found GSBA in 1996. Soon after I opened my doors, a friend told me about GSBA and I joined right away. Having GSBA and its members in my personal and professional life has helped me in many ways. While moving to Seattle I promised myself that I would be proudly Out. I have never been closeted in my business and I feel my connection to other LGBT businesses has been such a gift."

    Next month they will celebrate 21 years in the heart of Madison Valley. Baas Framing Gallery would like to invite all GSBA members to join them for a celebration on November 10th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for an exhibition of Rebecca Allen's colorful landscapes & Curtis Yu's fabulous ceramics.
  • Member Candidate: Nicole Macri

    | Oct 28, 2016
    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    Dear Friends and Colleagues at GSBA,

    I have spent my life providing solutions to problems many have considered intractable -- including how best to address affordable housing, homelessness, and the needs of people living with mental illness and addiction. My partner Deb and I have lived on Capitol Hill for more than a decade, and I am thrilled to be running for the State Legislature to put my experience to work for our community. With your help, I will be a champion for the people who live, love, play, earn their livings, and make their homes in the 43rd District.


    As the Deputy Director for the Downtown Emergency Service Center in Seattle, I am responsible for providing housing and services to 9,000 chronically homeless adults annually and overseeing a budget of $41 million and 550 employees. As President of the Board of Directors of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, I have helped to expand affordable housing across our state and champion policies that protect renters and homeowners from discrimination and displacement.

    These experiences have earned me the sole endorsements of over 30 current and former local elected leaders, including State Representative Brady Walkinshaw, who currently holds this seat, Mayor Ed Murray, seven Seattle Councilmembers, former Mayor Mike McGinn, former King County Executive Ron Sims, and many state legislators.

    I am also pleased to include Equal Rights Washington, The Stranger, the LGBT Victory Fund, EMILY’s List, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest among my endorsements.

    This is a dynamic time in our region. I believe the State can be a better partner in helping ensure Seattle and all communities in Washington thrive. Together, we can make sure that no one experiences the dangers and indignities of not having a home or of enduring discrimination for who they are; that all students get a good education and can attend college without being mired in debt; that our environment is protected today and for generations to come; and, that the important role that small businesses play in the vibrant neighborhoods of our district is protected and upheld.

    This seat in our legislature holds a great distinction. It has been held by an LGBT individual since 1987, the longest streak in the world. Thanks to strong leadership by our past representatives, this seat has been historically significant in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights in our state and across our nation. I take the responsibility of carrying on this important legacy very seriously, and look forward to continuing this trend. As your representative, I will work to ensure that LGBTQ people are free from discrimination and have safe access to spaces and services, and to close the gender pay gap by ensuring equal pay for equal work and establishing paid parental leave.

    Throughout my career, I have shown that with determination and collaboration, we can solve tough problems in ways that make things better for all of us. I got into this race because I know we can take that experience and determination to Olympia to expand opportunity and equity for people across this state. As your legislator, I will work to ensure the future can be brighter for everyone in Seattle and across our state. In short, I will work for you. I look forward to earning your vote.

    Please visit my campaign website and Facebook page at and

    Thank you,

    Nicole Macri
    Friends of Nicole Macri

  • Ambassador of the Month: Randy Card

    Randy CardI joined GSBA about six years ago and found that this organization plays a huge part in our Greater Seattle market. They support our local communities, help our local businesses and advocate for our LGBT community. I’m currently an ambassador and member, and serve on the Membership, Outreach, and Engagement (MOE) committee. The most rewarding part of my involvement with GSBA is new people, and building lasting relationships.

    I work for First Financial Northwest Bank as a Business Banking Manager in Mill Creek, with more than 24 years of service in Retail Banking. I specialize in Business Relationship Management and Business Development in the Snohomish County and Greater Seattle Market. The best part of my job is meeting with amazing people and building relationships, both on the client level and employee/peer level. I am an active volunteer with various organizations and support many of our local nonprofits.

    Other things I enjoy are: being with my husband and Rosie (our German shepherd) and spending time with friends and family. My hobbies include cooking, traveling, enjoying the outdoors, nightlife, and anything our beautiful Pacific Northwest has to offer. If you interested in what GSBA has to offer and how it can best serve your business, or if you are looking for a new fresh outlook in financial needs please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    GSBA ambassadors promote the role of GSBA in the community by welcoming new members, encouraging current members to maximize their membership and assisting in increasing engagement of new and existing members. For more information about becoming a GSBA ambassador contact Ilona Lohrey.

  • Your Investment at Work: Nick La Berge

    | Oct 26, 2016

    NLB 2
    My name is Nick LaBerge (he/his/him), and I am a second-year scholar from Tacoma.  I am a student at Claremont McKenna College, a small liberal arts college in Southern California.  Although I have not yet declared my major, it will likely incorporate a combination of science, economics, and philosophy.

    My friends and family wholeheartedly accepted and supported me when I came out to them as gay in high school.  For this, I consider myself extremely lucky.  The support of these valued allies helped make my high school experience positive, yet it could only do so much for my sense of belonging.   I only had a handful LGBTQ peers and one or two LGBTQ adults that I could look up too, which I found lonely and discouraging.  This changed drastically after I was awarded a scholarship by the GSBA.  I took my mom to the scholar’s dinner, where we were met by hundreds of successful and supportive LGBTQ adults.  The entire night, I felt on the verge of crying with joy; joy that such a large room could be filled with people who accept me, joy that my future could possibly be as bright as any of the people I met, joy that I would be able to go to my dream college, joy that I belong.  That dinner (despite me having been scheduled to speak at the very end with terrible stage-fright) is one of my most cherished memories.

    Through Claremont McKenna College, I was awarded a fellowship for the summer.  As an Appel Fellow, I had the unique opportunity to pick-my-own-adventure for an experience that would culminate in a meaningful writing project.  I chose to spend my summer in Buena Vista, Panama volunteering for the non-profit organization Cambio Creativo.

    Cambio Creativo is a small non-profit organization dedicated to the underserved community that formerly resided in Coco Solo--an abandoned and dilapidated US Navy facility.  This community was recently moved to government subsidized housing in Buena Vista, where they must re-learn to survive.  Cambio Creativo focuses much of its energy on the children of this community.

    On school days in Panama, I tutored local youth (ages 7-18) in English, Spanish, math, and science in an after school program. I additionally helped with the the small organization's website and record-keeping.  On the weekends, I taught an english vocabulary building class for all ages.

    NLB 1One highlight of my experience took place during one of my tutoring sessions with a young woman named Maria.  She is 18 years old, recently married, and soon likely to be starting a family.  She has a particularly hard time with chemistry homework, and I was nervous that its complexity would limit my ability to help her on account of my limited Spanish fluency.  We decided to save it for last.  She was learning how to find the empirical and molecular formulas of a molecule based on the percentages of each element's mass within the molecule--something that I remembered enough of from high school.  We slowly went through each step of the problems, until she could do them on her own.  She was excited that she could feel confident for her upcoming quiz, and I was thrilled to have made a measurable contribution.

    I lived with an amazing host family for the entire 8 weeks I stayed in Panama, and my host brother was my best friend.  I went with him to community events like bingo fundraisers for the local church, traditional dancing performances, and community beach outings.  Also, I worked in the communities "centro," where lots of youth spent their free time.  There, I played ping pong, chess, or sometimes just talked with members of the community.

    Although my stay in Panama was relatively short and I was working in a field that I am unlikely to pursue professionally,  I think I learned more this summer than I could have learned in any corporate setting.  I learned about another culture and another way of life.  I grew fluent in Spanish, I made friendships that will continue for years, and grew close with a small community that I think about often and that I hope to visit again soon.  In a lot of ways, this summer experience reminded me why organizations like the GSBA are so necessary, as it highlighted the importance of education, friendship, community, and family.  I learned that the best experiences are not always the easiest or the most enjoyable, but the reward for leaving my comfort zone can outweigh the initial cost of discomfort. And while I learned all of this, I was also reminded that there is so much that needs to be done to support underserved communities around the world.

    Thank you so much, GSBA, for supporting me as I strive to learn as much as I can and expand my worldview.

  • 7th Congressional District: Pramila Jayapal

    | Oct 25, 2016

    This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire.

    Senator Pramila Jayapal, running for the 7th Congressional District

    pramilaBoth candidates in this race talk about making the 7th District a national leader. What is unique feature of the district that can serve to address a national problem?
    We live in one of the most progressive districts in the country, which affords us the opportunity to lead on progressive issues. We also live in an area that is known for its innovation and tech industries, and the importance we put on taking care of our environment. Living in a city where so many people have a passion for activism allows us the space to build the movements necessary to create change. My work bringing people together in Seattle across progressive organizations and across the aisle to pass legislation on controversial demonstrates how I have the skills to champion these issues at the national level. I built movements with Seattle communities on issues such as immigration, climate, and police accountability.  In addition, the ability to increase federal resources to address challenges that not only Seattle but major cities across the country are facing, such as transportation, infrastructure investment, homelessness and housing, are absolutely top priorities on the national agenda and we will have to work hard in a divided Congress to bring those solutions right here to the District. My work to build coalitions both here and nationally is the reason that I have garnered the endorsements of so many different sectors, as well as 20 members of Congress who will be absolutely essential to hitting the ground running.

    The 7th is the single most trade-dependent district in the country. The Port of Seattle alone generates over 216,000 jobs, $9 billion in personal income, and nearly $900 million in state and local taxes. How will you work to support the economy of the 7th District in Congress?

    Trade is extremely important to the region.  You can no more stop trade than you can stop migration, nor is either desirable.  It is precisely because the 7th is the most trade-dependent district in the country that we must craft trade policies that foster a healthy economy, one in which both local businesses and workers thrive and that guarantees protections to our shared environment and public health.

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said it best when she said we must ensure that civil society is at the center of any trade agreements, not investors.  I will work to ensure that our trade policies are negotiated in the interest of communities across the 7th District by ensuring that both labor and environmental voices are at the table along with businesses.  I do not support the Trans Pacific Partnership because it undermines worker and environmental protections, undermines local jurisdiction over those very protections at home, and gives too much power to multinational corporations, including around patent protection extensions that would limit the ability to provide essential life-saving drugs at affordable prices to those around the world who need them the most.

    It is precisely because of my strong support from so many different sectors of the community, and my commitment to ensuring that the 7th Congressional District is a leader on crafting trade policies that benefit our state and our country that I believe I can play a unique role in ensuring we have fair trade agreements that benefit our economy, our environment, and our workers.

    The 7th District has one of the highest percentages of LGBT people in the country. How will you address the particular needs and priorities of our community?
    I have been a long-time ally of the LGBTQ community and will continue to fight for full LGBTQ rights and work to include voices from LGBTQ communities in coalition-building on a broad set of relevant issues ranging from anti-discrimination in employment to health equity.

    As a grassroots activist with One America, I pushed for LGBTQ equality by joining the coordinating committee of the Washington United for Marriage campaign. I brought together LGBTQ and immigration rights movements in the battle for marriage equality. Broadening the movement helped us create an even greater impact for change.

    In Congress, I plan to join the Congressional Equity Caucus to pass the Equality Act and Every Child Deserves a Family Act and Every Child Deserves a Family Act. These pieces of legislation would establish protections against discrimination for LGBTQ people in employment, education, housing and adoption, among others.

    I am so proud to have the endorsements of national and local LGBTQ leaders and organizations.  SeaMec gave me a top ranking in the primary election, ranking me higher than my opponent in the general election, Brady Walkinshaw.  I have won the dual endorsement of Equal Rights Washington for my longstanding work on LGBTQ issues.  I also have been endorsed by numerous local and national LGBTQ leaders including (Organizations for identification purposes only): Locally:  Danni Askini, Sarah Toce (Editor in Chief, Seattle Lesbian), Cuc Vu (Director, City of Seattle, and former Director of Diversity at Human Rights Campaign), Ray Corona (Commissioner, LGBT Commission, City of Seattle), Rita Smith (LGBTQ Leader); and many others.  Nationally: Gautam Raghavan (former LGBTQ liaison to President Obama); Mara Keisling (Executive Director of National Center for Transgender Equality) and Rea Carey (Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force).  For a full list of endorsements, please see the website:

    Based on your skills and interests, in which Congressional committees do feel you would be most effective?
    I currently serve on both the Health Care and Transportation committees in the State Senate and I would like to continue to serve on those two committees, as well as Judiciary (which covers both criminal justice and immigration policy).  I have deep experience in health care, having fought for a single payer healthcare system that ensures access for all and having worked on expanding health care for families here and around the world through my work at PATH for many years, as well as locally on reproductive rights.

    I also have been extremely privileged to serve on the Transportation Committee at a critical time, helping to ensure the best possible transportation infrastructure package that puts $15 billion into our transportation infrastructure in this state over the next ten years, creating 200,000 jobs across the state.  My work on the committee was essential to ensuring that we did not allow for false choices around the environment and transit, and to modernize our transportation infrastructure while also promoting jobs and transitioning to a clean energy economy. As a State Senator on the Transportation Committee, I used transportation as as a pathway to promote jobs and reduce carbon emissions by investing in Washington State’s electric vehicle infrastructure and pushing for $5.25 million in pre-apprenticeship programs for women and people of color.

    My work on criminal justice and immigration policy reform has a long track record, and I look forward to bringing that experience to bear on Judiciary.

    Where is HIV on your policy agenda?
    I got my start in Seattle more than twenty years ago, working for an international public health nonprofit. While there I helped implement health programs that expanded access to health care for women and families with a focus on preventive care through vaccine programs, diagnostics and lowering the costs of drugs to treat diseases. HIV/AIDS was a very important part of all this work.  The loan fund that I was the director of at PATH funded many activities around HIV, including education and prevention through contraceptive social marketing program in Indonesia to prevent transmission; vaccine development; and other forms of education, prevention and treatment resources. I am committed to working for health equity for all communities. I have a track record as a grassroots activist and State Senator of working to expand health care access for women, families, and underserved communities with a focus on preventative care. In addition to supporting access to health care for people with HIV, the federal government must also invest in HIV research and development to combat and prevent the disease, and education programs to fight the stigma associated with HIV, while stressing the continued need for prevention and safe-sex.

    It is also essential that we invest in more treatment and research, including both domestically and globally when less than half of the people who need antiretroviral therapy are receiving it. In 2015 there were over 2 million new HIV infections worldwide, adding up to a total of over 36 million people living with HIV.

    I would support increased funding to combat HIV on a global scale and push to make America lead the way in achieving the 90-90-90 targets (90% of people with HIV to be diagnosed, 90% of the diagnosed to receive HIV treatment, and 90% of people receiving treatment to have an undetectable viral load) laid out by the United Nations and the World Health Organization, which scientists have said is necessary in order to bring the spread of HIV under control.

    Click here to see Brady Walkinshaw's responses.

  • GSBA Board Member: Jen Jimenez

    | Oct 25, 2016

    Jen JimenezWelcome to our newest member of the GSBA board of directors!

    Jennifer Jimenez is a certified nurse midwife and co-owner of Eastside Women's Health Center in Kirkland, WA. After receiving two bachelor's degrees and a master's from Columbia University in New York City; Jennifer started her Midwifery career caring for the underserved community in the Bronx where she caught hundreds of babies. She then went on to join a group of elite providers in Manhattan where she honed in on developing new skills to care for high risk population. All throughout her 20 year career, she has dedicated her life and craft to social justice and high quality healthcare with special focus on the LGBTQ community. She now continues her dedication at the health center where she and her colleagues serve the community with family building, gynecology, lactation, acupuncture and massage therapy services.
  • Member Candidate: Cathy Moore

    | Oct 25, 2016

    GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.

    160708ROSAMOOREC_029-2Dear fellow GSBA members:

    For too many, the promise of “justice for all” is out of reach. I am running for King County Superior Court to change that. With 20 years of experience working to remove barriers to justice in the legal system and community, I know how important it is to have judges who are committed to making the justice system work for everyone.

    Rated “exceptionally well-qualified” and “well-qualified” by local bar associations, I am the only candidate in this race with judicial experience in King County Superior Court. 

    As a judge and commissioner pro tem in King County Superior Court for six years, I made the difficult judgment calls in family, juvenile and mental illness courts - the courts experiencing the highest growth in cases. As a tribal court judge, I kept defendants in Drug Treatment Court on track to success, reducing recidivism and the need for incarceration. And, as an administrative law judge with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings, where the majority of cases involved unrepresented low-income individuals, I diligently conducted full and fair hearings providing equal justice regardless of income level.

    Over the course of my career, I have provided thousands of hours of free legal representation to those unable to afford an attorney, managed a legal services program for survivors of domestic violence, served as a consumer rights advocate for indigenous peoples targeted by predatory lenders, and served as an advocate for abused and neglected children as well as youth in foster care. As an elected member of the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association, I developed a funding source that continues to fund free legal services to those unable to afford an attorney. As elected Chair of the Seattle Human Rights Commission, I worked to bring greater transparency and accountability to the disciplinary process for police officers.

    I have ten years of litigation experience as a former public defender and family law attorney as well as experience as a mediator and restorative justice facilitator.

    My endorsers include Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu, Justice Steven González and Chief Justice Barbara Madsen. I am endorsed by local and county Democratic organizations, labor unions, state and local representatives, women’s groups, attorneys and a host of community leaders.

    I know that unequal access and racial disparity are undermining the fair and impartial administration of justice. I believe judges have a responsibility to ensure that the courts are accessible, fair, and equitable for everyone. If elected, I will ensure access, equity, and fairness in the court. Please support me on November 8th in the effort to make justice for all a reality in King County Superior Court!

    To learn more visit my website and Facebook page:
  • The Business of Pot

    | Oct 19, 2016

    Biz of Pot“Washington is a pioneer. Our companies and brands will lead the way.”

    Jody Hall of The Goodship Company and Cupcake Royale emphasized the first-in-the-nation status that our state, along with Colorado, holds in the world of recreational cannabis at GSBA’s Business of Pot event. Conversations among panelists and the audience returned again and again to both the serious business around this newly legal industry as well as how to make it better for everyone.

    Hosted by Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes/Dsquared Company at their Melrose Market Studios and sponsored by Leafly during the arrival of the big fall windstorm, guests came prepared to network and to build solid business connections. From growers to producers to retailers, and from financing to marketing to legal assistance, every facet of the industry was represented. We had long-time members like Sally Schultz, a commercial mortgage lender who has expanded her business to include 502 financing, and brand-new members like Vela, a hypermodern extraction lab and store.

    A superstar panel of experts, moderated by longtime GSBA member Jody Hall, discussed the economic impact, opportunities, and challenges of Washington’s cannabis industry. Alison Holcomb of the ACLU was the author of Initiative 502 which legalized recreational cannabis in Washington in 2012. “My vision for I-502 was always for it to be the first brick thrown through that window,” she explained. “The work isn’t done, and there are still more bricks to be thrown, but that first hole is there with cracks spreading across the glass.”

    Sam Méndez of the Cannabis Law & Policy Project discussed the tremendous revenue that Washington has raised with the highest excise taxes on cannabis projects – significantly higher than any other state, but still slightly less than we levy on alcohol. Over $180 million in excise taxes have generated funds for prevention and funding for various state agencies, but an increasing proportion is being added to the general fund to make up for significant shortfalls elsewhere, such as education funding. As with the gold rushes of eras past, Sam said that “Lots of people are dreaming of riches,” but that very few will actually achieve them in this competitive landscape.

    Dockside Cannabis Director Oscar Velasco-Schmitz, another longtime GSBA member, argued for a stronger distinction between medical and recreational uses. He also added that the most promising entry into the cannabis industry is through ancillary services such as marketing, design, and legal. Meg Owen, Senior Digital marketing Manager at Leafly described their tremendous growth in many of those various services that Oscar described. Describing itself as the “Yelp of pot” Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource and does nearly everything except handle the product itself. Leafly has an extensive cannabis business development program that assists aspiring entrepreneurs reach the largest audience, create targeted marketing campaigns, and connect with resources for every step of the way.

    DSC00714The end of the panel raised several complex but deeply important questions about the industry. “How can we build an industry that lives up to our values?” Holcomb asked. Hall said that her companies were trying to institute intentional policies to hire people from groups disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and to give them equity in those businesses. An audience member brought up the devastating impact that the War on Drugs has had on communities of color, while many of the biggest beneficiaries of legal cannabis are white people who also have easier access to capital. Méndez urged that Washington belatedly follow the example of Oregon’s legalization process, which included the automatic expunging of past cannabis convictions.


    UW School of Law - Cannabis Law & Policy Project
    GSBA Cannabis Members
    Washington State Liquor & Cannabis Board