GSBA Hosts Statewide Advocacy Meeting

by Matt Landers, Director of Public Policy & Government Relations
| Sep 21, 2020
On Friday, September 18 GSBA hosted a virtual convening of LGBTQ advocates from around Washington State to meet with our LGBTQ legislative caucus and talk about what the 2021 legislative session could look like.

This year, the annual conversation was facilitated by Monisha Harrell of Equal Rights Washington and Erick Seelbach of Pierce County AIDS Foundation, and included nearly 75 community leaders from across the state, representing Clark, Franklin, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, and Yakima counties. Senators Marko Liias, Jamie Pedersen (Seattle), Emily Randall (Gig Harbor), and Claire Wilson (Federal Way) and Representatives Nicole Macri (Seattle) and Skyler Rude (Walla Walla) joined the community groups to share their expectations for the upcoming session.

It should come as no surprise that everyone expects the 2021 session to be unlike any other. It is unlikely that people will be able to gather in person for testimony and lobbying their legislators, but there are not clear directions yet on how the public will be invited to weigh in on issues. The budget will be first and foremost on everyone's minds, including tough discussions on how to balance immediate needs with new revenue and/or budget cuts. At the same time, the LGBTQ caucus agreed that questions of equity are at the top of the list when it comes to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis. 

Going into the meeting, the community had identified a number of issues that were of the highest priority, including: prioritizing black trans women and two spirit folks, increasing access to healthcare (and specifically for trans people), care for LGBTQ seniors and youth, police reform, housing advocacy, LGBTQ-inclusive COVID recovery efforts, defending against budget cuts to social services, and LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum development.

Washington State is lucky to have a vibrant statewide network of LGBTQ organizations, activists, and leaders with expertise across many issue areas. Undoubtedly the LGBTQ community will have its work cut out for it in 2021. GSBA is currently working on finalizing a legislative agenda for next year, to be released prior to the end of the year. We look forward to sharing the voices of our partners around the state in coming months to elaborate on some of these issues.