Washingtonians Write Letters to the Editor About Referendum 71

Michele and JanisGLAAD’s Senior Media Strategist, Adam Bass, is in Washington State working on the Approve Referendum 71 Campaign with the Washington Families Standing Together Coalition (WAFST).

GLAAD is exclusively focusing on the communications efforts of the campaign and is assisting the campaign's communications team with coordinating dozens of tasks on a daily basis.  Recently, GLAAD took the lead on a statewide push to help secure editorial page conversations about the need to Approve Referendum 71.

GLAAD authored a series of key talking points for letters to the editor along with an e-mail blast to the WAFST constituency that encouraged people concerned about Referendum 71 to write letters through WAFST’s on-line letter writing tool.

The campaign issued the call for letters mid-day Wednesday, and in less than 24 hours over 150 letters had been generated to papers large and small in every corner of the state.  People told their personal stories to their neighbors, through letters to the editor, about why it’s vital Washington voters Approve Referendum 71 on ballots that arrived last week.

One submitted letter, in particular caught our attention, and we wanted to share it here:
Approve Ref. 71

I’m a retired fire captain and a lesbian. For 33 years, I fought fires and responded to medical emergencies. I have earned a good pension.

My domestic partner stood by me as other firefighters’ spouses stood by them, sleeping alone while I worked my 24-hour shifts, not seeing me for several days when I worked overtime, caring for me when I was injured, and knowing that I could face a life-or-death situation every time I went to work.

The married firefighters I worked alongside had the security of knowing that their families would be taken care of if they were injured or killed in the line of duty. Once they retired, they knew their spouse would receive a pension benefit after their death.

Lesbian and gay firefighters are treated differently. Under Washington law, my domestic partner would receive no compensation if I were injured or killed, and she is not entitled to any of my pension when I die.

When you call 911, we come to your aid regardless of your sexual orientation. Referendum 71 is your chance to do the same for us. Please vote to approve my domestic partner benefits. Approve Referendum 71.

Michele Kämmerer
Bellingham, WA

When people like Michele Kammerer, and her partner Janis, tell their story, people’s hearts and minds change on these important issues.  At GLAAD, we’re grateful for the incredible response that people like Michele and the other 150-plus letter writers have shown to this call to action.  We encourage lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and our allies to keep telling their stories as we work together to help get Referendum 71 Approved.