governor Chris Gregoire signed a gay civil rights bill
into law Tuesday, though the law may be held in limbo if
opponents are successful in forcing a referendum. The
measure adds sexual orientation to the list of
characteristics covered by a state law that bans
discrimination in housing, employment, insurance, and
credit. The measure, passed by the legislature on
Friday, makes Washington the 17th state to pass a law
covering gays and lesbians, and the seventh to protect
The law is scheduled to take effect in June, 90
days after the end of the legislature's session.
However, it would be frozen until a November vote if
opponent Tim Eyman gets enough signatures by the June 7
deadline for a referendum.
In addition to seeking to remove sexual
orientation from the law, Eyman is pushing an
initiative that would prohibit state government from
requiring quotas or other preferential treatment for any
person or group "based on sexual orientation or sexual preference."
The senate's passage of the bill Friday on a
25-23 vote, following house approval, was a
major victory for gay rights activists who have watched
the measure fail in the legislature for nearly 30 years.
Last year it lost by just one vote in the senate. (AP)