Washington State voters soundly defeated a November ballot initiative that would have banned job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Opponents argued that homosexuals already have the same protection as anyone else in the workplace. Initiative 677, which garnered just 40 percent of the vote, would have granted "special rights" to homosexuals, opponents said, opening the door for "frivolous lawsuits" against employers.
"People who want to advance a homosexual agenda have run up against the public saying this is enough," says Jerry Shaw, head of the Christian Coalition of Washington State. "I do not think there is a climate in America for creating special classes for anyone at all."
Passage of the initiative would have made Washington the first state to ban job discrimination against homosexuals through a voter referendum. That possibility drew the interest of the Christian Coalition's national office, which distributed 250,000 voter guides through churches.
An anti-677 coalition called NOPE—No Official Preferential Employment—enlisted the support of former Seattle Seahawks football star Steve Largent, now a U.S. representative from Oklahoma, in a full-page newspaper ad.
"We did not want to be the first domino to fall, providing the base for a state-by-state aggressive homosexual rights campaign," says NOPE spokesperson Bob Larimer.
December 8, 1997 Vol. 41, No. 14, Page 621
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