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Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Tacoma Activists call for Donations and Volunteers in Final Stretch of No on Initiative 1 Campaign

[TACOMA, WA] - Tacoma United For Fairness (TUFF), a organization working to preserve a Tacoma ordinance that provides protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, sounded an alarm this week among the region's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community with an urgent request for addition donations and support. The request calls for $50,000 in donations over the next two weeks and for volunteers to canvass and doorbell to help secure the estimated 27,500 voters needed to win. Jennifer Allen, campaign coordinator explains.

"What we do in the next couple weeks will be vital to the success of the campaign. The total number of votes we need to win at this point is 27,500. We need that many people to show up at the polls, understand the issue and vote no on Initiative 1," she said. "We know that even some of our most sophisticated voters are confused by the ballot measure and don't know yet that the only way to vote no to discrimination is to vote no on Initiative 1. The only way that we can make sure everyone knows is by talking to them by phone banking or by voter ID through door to door canvassing."

TUFF has launched an ambitious effort to get their message out to voters by November 5. Canvassers will be out in Tacoma neighborhoods Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and on Sunday afternoons from 3:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. The campaign is also phone banking Sunday through Thursday from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. In addition, a mail plan is in place pending campaign finances.

The Fairness Lobby is currently organizing teams of volunteers to help TUFF's efforts. They hope to do a 50-person canvass on Sunday, Oct. 13, from 3:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m. A 50-person canvass could identify almost 1,200 "no" voters they claim. So far, the campaign has identified only 600 such voters.

"The campaign message is getting fairly simple right now," said Allen. "We need to get the message to voters is that the only way to vote no on discrimination is to vote no on Initiative 1. We need volunteers, we need money, we need to turn people out who understand the issue and can educate others."

TUFF was successful in foiling efforts by Hap Butler, a convicted felon and co-founder of Help Us Take Back Tacoma Again!, from adding the full definition of gender identity which includes transsexual, intersexed, transvestite or transgender. Originally, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Marywave Van Deren had approved new ballot language that included a clarification regarding the exemption of religious schools. However, she later changed her position after Tacoma city attorney's asked her to reconsider. Religious schools are already exempt and can discriminate in who they choose to admit or hire they argued. Her decision is considered final under state law.

Allen says such tactics are common. "One of the things we know from the Hands Off Washington campaign is that the opposition to the I-677 got the last piece of mail out and it was hateful and confused a lot of voters," she said. "We don't want to see that happen in this campaign and we are working very hard so the voters don't have the issues muddied for them. We want them to have the message and understand really clearly starting now and up until the day they vote, despite the opposition may tell you, we can only maintain a Tacoma that is free from discrimination by retaining the laws that protect everyone from discrimination."

The Seattle Gay News has learned that additional campaign support is expected. Eric Ludwig, campaign manager for SAVE DADE, and four staff members from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force are scheduled to arrive by this weekend.

"This is a much wider campaign than just Tacoma," said Allen. "If we start losing these kind of protections here, it tends to spread. Seattle folks need to understand this is an issue that effects all of us."

To contact the Fairness Lobby of Washington call or e-mail [email protected]. To reach the Tacoma United For Fairness campaign call or visit www.tufftacoma.org.

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