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Gabi Clayton of Olympia, WA lost her son and shares her pain

Here is the letter:
June 13, 2001

United Way of Thurston County
505 4th Avenue West
Olympia, WA 98501

Dear United Way of Thurston County,

Yesterday I wrote this letter to the Olympian:

I want to thank the Olympian for taking such a strong stand for our community and against bias and ignorance in this Sunday's editorial, "United Way made wrong decision." I am one of the people who have been meeting with the United Way and asking them to add a non-discrimination policy for the organizations they fund, for the reasons you stated so well. In my last meeting with them after the board voted, I too pointed out that if they choose the middle-of-the-road position, then they appear to be choosing bigotry. I don't want to believe that people who have worked so hard for the good of our community would do that, but that is what it looks like now.

My son Bill committed suicide after he was assaulted in a hate crime based on his sexual orientation. I know what a hot topic this is, and I know all too well the courage it takes to stand against the prejudice and violence that has been heaped upon gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

Shame on the Boy Scouts - yes, the supreme court said their discrimination is legal, but that does not make it right. Shame too on the United Way of Thurston County if they do not stand against this bigotry.

I want to thank Jane Boubel, Anita Drummond and Teri Yount, who resigned from United Way in protest on this issue. It must have been a painful decision, and I admire their integrity, courage, and commitment to fairness.

Gabi Clayton
Olympia, Washington

It saddens me that it has come to this. It saddens me that I am publicly saying such things about a policy of United Way -- an organization that is so vital and needed in our community. It saddens me that because of the way you have handled this so far you have lost some of the fine people who I believe you need the most at this time.

I hope it is not too late for your board to turn this decision around, and that you will decide that it is important for United Way to be a part of the community that values all of our people without bias. I do understand that you may take a lot of heat from people who think gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people should be shut out and not welcomed here. I understand
that adding the inclusive non-discrimination clause we have asked for will cost something. I know that some people will protest with their pocketbooks. I believe that will be true whichever choice you make now.

I just cannot believe that you will not consider and do not understand the cost in the lives of the people -- real people like my son Bill who died believing he lived in a world filled with hate -- who are affected by your

Gabi Clayton
Olympia, WA

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