Hands Off Washington Records

Hands Off Washington Records

August, 2018
Center for Pacific Northwest Studies

Records of the Hands Off Washington, Whatcom County Coalition are among the rich resources at Heritage Resources relating to local and regional LGBTQ+ h(i/er)story and activism. Active from 1993-1997, “Hands Off Washington” (HOW) was a state-wide, grass roots LGBTQ+ rights movement led by Washington Citizens for Fairness. HOW developed and mobilized in opposition to conservative efforts to push through ballot initiatives that would legalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Local HOW work included wide-ranging contributions to statewide efforts to oppose discriminatory ballot initiatives, including strategic planning, fundraising and public education campaigns. The specific initiatives targeted by the coalition (608/610 and later 166/167) would ultimately fail to gather enough signatures to make it onto the ballot. HOW also mobilized campaigns in 1995 and 1997 for anti-discrimination initiatives – the second of these initiatives was voted on by Washington citizens but failed to pass. After this defeat, HOW ceased to be and changed its name to Equality Washington.  

The archival collection at the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies (CPNWS) includes an array of records documenting the history and activities of the HOW Whatcom County coalition, as well as a large amount of subject and reference materials relating to LGBTQ+ issues and activism both at the local and national level. Administrative records include meeting minutes, financial records and a run of newsletters (1994-1996) from the Whatcom County group. The collection also contains significant speaker and workshop files reflecting the coalition’s speaker and public education work.  Subject and reference files pertain to a wide range of issues and concerns including HIV/AIDS, marriage equality and hate crimes, as well as materials from and about conservative oppositional organizations such as Focus on the Family and Colorado for Family Values. Researchers will also find examples of eye-catching posters, pamphlets, buttons and other documents used in HOW’s extensive public education and outreach campaigns.

The Hands Off Washington, Whatcom County Coalition records are open to the public for research and available at CPNWS. We welcome inquiries about this and other LGBTQ+ resources housed within the holdings of Heritage Resources. For more information please contact us at cpnws@wwu.edu or 360-650-7534.

Additional information: 

Guide to the Hands Off Washington, Whatcom County Coalition Records: http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv10618/  

Subject Guide: Researching LGBTQ+ H(i/er)story and Primary Resources: http://libguides.wwu.edu/lgbtq_research  

All of the above images are available in the Hands Off Washington Records at CPNWS.