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Saturday, January 7, 2006

Republican Sen. Finkbeiner to Support Washington Gay Rights Bill

Posted by on January 7 at 18:30 PM

According to Horsesass and Progressive Majority, state senator Bill Finkbeiner (R-Redmond) recently told a group of his constituents that this year he will be voting for House Bill 1515, the gay civil rights bill that has been shot down in the Washington State legislature for 30 years running.

If true, this is huge news for gay rights in Washington. The bill — which would specifically prohibit discrimination against homosexuals in housing, employment, and financial transactions — lost in the state senate last year by just one vote. If Finkbeiner is finally changing back to his original position on gay rights (the one he held back when he was a Democrat), then it’s almost certain that the gay civil rights bill will pass this year.

Maybe this news has something to do with Finkbeiner’s new challenger for the November elections. Or maybe it has more to do with Finkbeiner no longer being the Senate minority leader, and therefore no longer being required to stand as an exemplar of the Republican party’s anti-gay politics. But whatever the reason, this news is going to make a lot of gay rights activists in this state very happy. (If true.)

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Wouldn't it be ironic if it passes this year, and we have to thank a Republican for it, when we can't even get all the Democrats to vote for it?

Yes, we will have to thank "a" Republican. One. We will also have to thank the Democrats—almost all of them, but not all. Still, a hell of a lot more than one.

"Maybe this news has something to do with Finkbeiner's new challenger for the November elections."

You think?

Of course this has everything to do with that, and Finkbeiner should not be allowed to be viewed as a hero on this.

HB1515 is dead.
The new bill will have a new number on Monday or Tuesday.

I think you're wrong on the number of flips this will cause, Dan. Folks like Luke Esser, and even a couple from Eastern Washington, are friendly to the bill but wouldn't vote for it last year because they were afraid to be the 25th vote and the only Republican. If Finkbeiner's telling the truth, you could see Tim Sheldon flip to a 'yes' vote (it's actually possible if not likely - he's been in support of the bill before), and from one to three other Republicans flip to 'yes'. It's pretty cynical politics, but it's the way things get done, and good news is good news.

I agree with Switzerblog. Fink's vote against it last year had more to do with his position as party leader than his personal standing, and I expect to see him move back to the center after drifting right during his leadership years. When it becomes apparent it will pass, I too expect several other unprincipled 2005 nay-votes to switch. It will be nice to finally have this basic rights bill pass, and Rep. Murray will finally achieve his legislative career's goal.

I can't imagine Schmidt doesn't flip. Esser may hold, but it is likely he won't run for reelection so he can pursue a full time career in the AG's office... with hopes of succeeding McKenna. He simply can't effectively do his state job during the long session years.

I don't care what the reasons are for Finkbeiner's decision. I'm just glad he's making it and for that I think he should be encouraged. Lots of things can happen between now and then so I think those who support the bill should let him know that he is supported, especially if you live in his district. I would hate for his party to put the arm on him between now and March and change his mind.

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