Organizations for Communities of Color Endorse Referendum 71

News Release: 
Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thirty-one organizations that represent and serve communities of color have endorsed Referendum 71and are urging to voters to APPROVE Referendum 71 to support the state’s Domestic Partnership Law passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Gregoire earlier this year.

The new law provides the same state rights and responsibilities to registered domestic partners that are afforded to legally married couples. Unfortunately, these rights are at risk of repeal unless voters APPROVE Referendum 71 on this fall’s ballot. The law covers both lesbian and gay couples and heterosexual couples with one partner age 62 or older.

“There isn’t just one type of family in our communities. We are a diverse community, with diverse families. They all deserve legal protections and to be treated fairly under the law especially during these times of economic uncertainty,” said Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza.

The organizations support the Approve Referendum 71 campaign because gay and lesbian couples need domestic partnership laws to provide essential protections for their families. Committed couples who want to take care of each other should be allowed to visit each other in the hospital, take family and medical leave when a loved one is seriously ill, and have insurance coverage. Families with children need the protections provided by domestic partnership laws, especially when a parent dies. There are gay and lesbian couples in our community whose relationships are not recognized by their employers, leaving them uninsured or ineligible to receive survivor’s benefits if one of them passes away.

“This new law also protects elders in our community who are in monogamous opposite-sex relationships but choose not to marry. Our elders are the rock of our community. We must do all that we can to protect them,” said James Kelly, President of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle.

Often seniors who are widowed or divorced will suffer serious economic hardship if they remarry. Under Social Security, there is a “marriage penalty” which puts seniors’ benefits in peril if they remarry. The domestic partnership law allows unmarried senior couples to have the legal protections they need to take care of each other, to be able to provide insurance or take family or medical leave if a partner is gravely ill, and to make critical decisions for one another in times of crisis – without losing benefits that for many may be their only source of income. They should not have to live in poverty in order to be together with the person they love.

The Approve Referendum 71 campaign is being supported by the following groups and organizations of color:

  • Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
  • El Centro de la Raza
  • Asian and Pacific Islanders Coalition of King County
  • Northwest Indian Bar Association
  • Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County
  • Seattle-King County NAACP
  • Middle Eastern Legal Association of Washington
  • Entre Hermanos
  • Organization of Chinese Americans of Greater Seattle
  • Latino Political Action Committee of Washington
  • Japanese American Citizens League
  • Community 2 Community Development
  • Loren Miller Bar Association
  • Filipino Lawyers of Washington
  • Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation
  • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
  • Asian Pacific Directions Coalition
  • Asian and Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center
  • Vietnamese Bar Association of Washington
  • Sea Mar Community Health Clinics
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
  • Raising Our Asian Pacific American Representation
  • OneAmerica
  • South Asian Bar Association of Washington
  • Korean American Bar Association of Washington
  • Latina/o Bar Association of Washington
  • Pinay sa Seattle
  • Sahngnoksoo
  • New Americans Action Fund
  • CASA Latina
  • Asian Pacific Islanders Coalition of Pierce County
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