WALLA WALLA, Wash.-- The Republican State Senator who broke the stand-off on Washington’s anti-discrimination bill (House Bill 2661) will present Whitman College’s annual Matthew Shepard Lecture on Monday, May 1.


 Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, a 1991 Whitman graduate, will present “In Search of a Philosophical Majority” at 8 p.m. in Maxey Auditorium, near Otis and Boyer. The lecture will be hosted by Whitman College President George Bridges, and the evening will include a performance by the a cappella singing group The Testostertones. The public is invited to this free presentation and to a pre-lecture reception for the senator in Baker Faculty Center, corner of Otis and Boyer, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.


 In 2006 Finkbeiner was the only Republican senator to vote for “The Anderson/Murray Anti-Discrimination Bill” which adds “sexual orientation” to a state law banning discrimination in housing, employment, insurance and credit. Many in the state attribute the passage of House Bill 2661 to Finkbeiner’s support. The bill had been introduced but never passed since 1995. In 2005 it passed in the house 61-37 but lost by one vote in the Senate. Although Democrats had a 26-23 majority in the Senate, the bill failed there because two Democrats and all 23 Republicans (including Finkbeiner) voted against it.


 However, in voting for the bill this year, Finkbeiner said “I’ve had a number of conversations over the past year that have led me to more fully understand the level of discrimination against gays and lesbians, and I now find it both appropriate and necessary for the state to make it clear that this is not acceptable.


 “This issue has become one of many ‘wedge’ issues used to split our communities and divide us. Real people are affected by this issue: our friends, our co-workers, our family members, our neighbors. I don’t agree with the politicization of people’s personal lives, and I think it is time to move on.”


 Finkbeiner was elected to the Washington State Senate in 1994, 1998 and 2002. His current term expires in January 2007, and he serves on the Transportation, Financial Institutions, Housing & Consumer Protections and Rules committees.


 The Matthew Shepard Lecture was founded to honor the memory of Matthew Shepard, who was murdered in a brutal anti-gay hate crime in 1998.


CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156

Email: parishlj@whitman.edu