Senator Ranker ‘disgusted’ by defeat of anti-discrimination amendment

Senator Kevin Ranker.

Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, is “disgusted” following the defeat of an amendment which would have required vendors who do business with the state to be in line with state and federal anti-discrimination laws.

The amendment did not receive sufficient votes from the Senate Republicans during a late-night budget session on April 3. The House passed its budget on a partisan 51-47 vote, but as of press time, the Senate failed to pass its budget.

Ranker was particularly disappointed by the failure to adopt a specific amendment.

“We voted to allow discrimination. Elected officials are willing to sacrifice core values to gain control,” Ranker said. “It was disgusting.”

He said the amendment was simple: any business that contracts with the state cannot discriminate based on race, religion or sexual orientation. It also did not require any funding.

“I am astounded that in 2015 we still have to fight for basic civil rights,” Ranker said. “Even now, we read headlines about state governments making it legal for businesses to discriminate against their own citizens. We are not Indiana but we are following their lead.”

Proponents of Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” which was passed by the Indiana legislature and signed into law by the governor, say it protects individuals and businesses from acting against their religious beliefs.

In a news story in the Spokesman-Review last week, Senator Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, said the Democratic amendments at the recent budget session were mostly about securing “political gain.”

“A budget isn’t about the policy of social issues. It’s how we fund our state,” said Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, in the story.

Ranker says he is “not done” and will continue to advocate for equality in the workplace.

“I am going to fight like hell that we don’t become Indiana,” he said. “We are not Arkansas, we are not Wisconsin. The system is broken and we are not representing the values of Washington citizens.”

To see Ranker’s speech on the Senate floor, go here.