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Washington (State)

Washington governor signs bill ordering all state laws to be gender neutral

Friday, April 26, 2013

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee this week signed off on the final installment of a six-year effort to make language in Washington state’s copious laws gender-neutral.

The state already has welcomed “firefighters,” “clergy” and “police officers” into its lexicon under previous bills, but under the most recent measure, terms like “ombuds” and “security guards” replace ombudsman and watchmen.

Gov. Jay Inslee (seated) at the bill’s signing ceremony on April 22.AP

Dairymen, freshmen and even penmanship also will soon be things of the past, replaced by “dairy farmers,” “first-year students” and “handwriting.”

“It brings us to modern times, to contemporary times,” Sen. Jeannie Kohl-Welles, the bill’s sponsor, said after the signing. “Why should we have in statute anything that could be viewed as biased or stereotypical or reflecting any discrimination?”

Kohl-Welles, a Democrat from Seattle, introduced her first bill in 2007 to replace references to firemen and policemen and directed the state code reviser’s office to do a full revision of the rest of the code. A 1983 Washington state law already required all new statutes to be written in gender-neutral terms, so state officials were tasked with going through the rest of state statutes dating back to 1854 to revise the rest.

The measure passed the state House on a 70-22 vote earlier this month, with Democrats united in favor and Republicans split. It passed out of the state Senate by a unanimous vote in February.

About half of all U.S. states have moved toward such gender-neutral language at varying levels, from drafting bills to changing state constitutions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Florida and Minnesota already have completely revised their laws as Washington state is doing.

| Associated Press

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12 more reader comments:

  1. and at the same time one idiot member of his government wants to PERMIT discrimination in retailers based on sexual orientation…..

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 3:20pm
  2. As a clergy person who uses gender neutral language in sermons and for God, I can appreciate others taking the BIG step too. Actually, it’s not difficult at all :D

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 3:26pm
  3. Annnnnd how much taxpayer money will this cost? Or will this “gender-neutral” language only apply to new bills?

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 3:26pm

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 3:27pm
  5. Well that’s kind of odd, but okay. Maybe it’ll be good.

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 3:30pm
  6. Why don’t I live there? Seriously.

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 3:49pm
  7. About time

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 3:54pm
  8. At the same time, the state of WA is trying to pass that gays can be discriminated against from businesses..

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 4:13pm
  9. a legislative proposal is a long way from a law. we have seen several dumb proposals here in NC to not even get to a committee hearing !

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 4:24pm
  10. I am always pleased with the attitudes in my former residence!

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 4:58pm
  11. I don’t feel like any of this is necessary. They’re endings to words that in our modern era have nothing to do with gender. Why not change huMAN as well? Pointless.

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 8:22pm
  12. I LOVE my state! Born, Raised, and SO Proud Seattleite!

    Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 12:36am