About Equal Rights Washington
What is ERW?
Equal Rights Washington (ERW) is Washington's statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) advocacy and community outreach organization. ERW's mission is to ensure and promote dignity, safety, and equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Washingtonians.
Equal Rights Washington consists of three organizations: Equal Rights Washington, a 501(c)(4) organization which focuses on political advocacy, ERW Education + Engagement, a 501(c)(3) organization which focuses on public education with regard to LGBTQ issues in Washington, and ERW Political Action, a registered political action committee which exists to provide support to equality-minded candidates for elected office in Washington state. Each of these subsidiary organizations are headed by independent boards of directors, in accordance and compliance with state and federal law.
Founding & Anti-Discrimination
ERW was founded in 2004 to assist in the passage of Washington State's LGBT anti-discrimination bill, which for 28 years had been introduced in the state legislature, but never passed. In 2006, ERW played a crucial role in securing the passage of this legislation, Washington House Bill 2661, now known as the Anderson-Murray Anti-Discrimination law. ERW pivoted to become the lead organization in an early fight to have the Washington State Supreme Court recognize marriage rights for same-sex couples. In 2006, the Court decided not to grant those rights, touching off a movement that would change history.
Domestic Partnerships & Marriage Equality
In 2007, ERW supported the successful passage of Washington State's domestic partner law, which granted several of the rights of marriage to same-sex couples. In 2008 over 100 additional state-level benefits of marriage were added to the original domestic partnership law, and in 2009 the remaining rights afforded to opposite-sex married couples were granted to same-sex partners via the state's domestic partnership law. This was thanks largely to the work of Equal Rights Washington and its coalition partners across the state. Throughout the expansion of the domestic partnership rights, Equal Rights Washington remained clear that its intention was to continue to publicize, educate about and advocate for its belief that nothing short of full and actual marriage equality is sufficient for families in Washington headed by same-sex couples.
Indeed, four years later, further work led by Equal Rights Washington developed into the monumental passage of Washington Senate Bill 6239 defining marriage in Washington as between any “two persons who have each attained the age of eighteen years, and who are otherwise capable” regardless of gender.
Though the bill passed both houses and was signed by Governor Gregoire, anti-gay petitioners were able to place a referendum on the ballot that year threatening its ultimate success. In response, Equal Rights Washington founded the Washington United for Marriage coalition (eventually helping to recruit and organize 400 additional political and religious organizations from across the state and the nation) that successfully fought to approve of the law at a public vote, thus assuring marriage equality for all Washington families.