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Lesbian Council President MIA on Anti-LGBT Hate

The Council Says Russian Anti-LGBT Violence, Laws "Off-Topic"

Lesbian Council President MIA on Anti-LGBT Hate

One of four Russian consuls general living in the United States sent an agitated letter to Seattle mayor Mike McGinn earlier this month.

Andrey Yushmanov demanded to know why the mayor joined a "misleading" protest against Russia's new anti-LGBT laws and an upswing in antigay violence there. McGinn had been among about 250 people demonstrating on September 3 in front of the Russian consular residence, which prompted Yushmanov to write that he was "unpleasantly surprised" when he was shown photos of the mayor holding a "Stop Putin" sign in front of the mansion's gates.

"I would appreciate it if you could clarify whether your support of the protesters reflects the official position of the authorities of Seattle?" Yushmanov pressed.

McGinn offered an unapologetic defense in his reply to Yushmanov. "Tolerance of homosexuality means not calling its legality into question," McGinn wrote in a letter delivered to Yushmanov last Friday. He added that Russia's policies "condemn homosexuality while promoting reticence in the face of hate-based violence."

But McGinn stopped short of stating an official city position—as the consul had inquired about.

Asked why the mayor spoke only for himself and not on behalf of the city, McGinn's office said the Seattle City Council refused to join him in taking a position against the antigay laws.

"We inquired with the council president [Sally Clark] to see if the council would support a joint resolution expressing the City of Seattle's official position regarding anti- LGBT laws in Russia," said mayoral spokesman Robert Cruickshank. "She declined."

Speaking for Clark, council spokeswoman Dana Robinson Slote explained that the council declined because they considered it "off-topic." Antigay laws in Russia, and antigay violence consuming that country, did not "directly relate to city work," said Robinson Slote.

That's an interesting argument from the city council—that they adopt resolutions only on issues that relate directly to city business—because the council has recently passed resolutions opposing federal approval of genetically modified salmon, supporting a statewide initiative to label genetically modified foods, endorsing marriage equality in Washington State, and seeking an end to the Iraq war. The Seattle City Council has also passed resolutions denouncing the oppressive military regime in Burma, calling for an end to apartheid in South Africa (twice), supporting democracy in South Africa, and asking for the release of Nelson Mandela.

The city council once famously took up the cause of abused circus animals.

Was all that "directly related to city work"? Does council president Clark—who is a lesbian herself and voted for many of the resolutions—believe the current and previous councils were wrong to pass all those resolutions?

Laws recently passed under President Vladimir Putin have banned "gay propaganda," criminalized tourists who exhibit "gay behavior," made pride parades illegal, and blocked adoptions by gay people. A surge of antigay hate crimes has swept Russia in the wake of the passage of these laws. Organized vigilante groups across Russia are abducting gay teenagers, beating them, forcing them to drink urine, sexually assaulting them, and then posting video to Russian social media sites without fear, because the authorities approve. A new law moving through the Russian Duma would remove children from the homes of gay and lesbian parents.

Russian LGBT activists have called on gay people around the world to speak up on their behalf.

"At this point, the more Russians know and the Kremlin knows that the world is watching, the safer we feel on the ground," Russian lesbian activist and author Masha Gessen said at a public meeting in New York City.

But Yushmanov argued in his letter that gays are treated with a "spirit of tolerance" under Russia's constitution, which bans discrimination, and, as such, the protest's portrayal of Russia being intolerant toward gay people "is simply not true." The anti-propaganda laws are purportedly designed to help kids. "The goal of public policy toward children is to protect them from factors that can negatively affect their physical, intellectual, mental, spiritual, and moral development," Yushmanov said in defense of the law, adding that "punishing a country for having a different opinion is a form of discrimination in itself."

"I disagree," McGinn said in his letter.

Does the city also disagree?

Not according to council president Clark. recommended

 

Comments (14) RSS

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1
If this wasn't an election year and she wasn't so set against letting McGinn look good in any way, Clark would have likely led on this issue. She is one of the most divisive elected officials we have in Seattle. Thank you for calling her out on this.
Posted by Badb on September 18, 2013 at 9:11 AM · Report this
raku 2
Sally Clark & Ed Murray are purely 2nd wave gays - they have their marriage rights, so they don't give a shit about anyone else.

We need to care about the T's and the Q's on the LGBTQ, poor queers, and racially/socially marginalized queers. They are the ones most hurt by social discrimination, and they are the ones who need the most help by the government.

We need queer people in elected positions, but not if they're hurting, and not helping, people in need. Or else you'll just end up with the equivalent of Sarah Palin feminists or Herman Cain minority representation. Queer rights might not be McGinn's focus, but he's better at them than any of the 2nd wave gays on the city council or Ed Murray.
Posted by raku on September 18, 2013 at 12:56 PM · Report this
3
Good. People want the city council to run the city, not take a stand on every issue facing the world today.

McGinn can always count on the Stranger, though, to help him do what he does best -- drive a wedge between people. So what are we suppose to take away from this -- that Sally Clark is anti-gay? Lord.
Posted by ian on September 18, 2013 at 3:15 PM · Report this
4
When a citizen is elected to public office they must be a voice of reason and compassion...and an openly Gay legislator who say nothing about an official Russian policy that is harming LGBT members in Russia at a public forum is simply a coward.
Sorry if this upsets some people..but it is the truth.
Posted by medcannabis1 on September 18, 2013 at 5:22 PM · Report this
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inquiastador 6
I rarely agree with Clark as I think she just goes whichever the wind seems to be blowing, but in this case, I have to agree.

"because the council has recently passed resolutions opposing federal approval of genetically modified salmon, supporting a statewide initiative to label genetically modified foods, endorsing marriage equality in Washington State, and seeking an end to the Iraq war. The Seattle City Council has also passed resolutions denouncing the oppressive military regime in Burma, calling for an end to apartheid in South Africa (twice), supporting democracy in South Africa, and asking for the release of Nelson Mandela."

At least half of these things were mistakes to take a council vote on as they have nothing to do with the workings of city Govt.

So, you see, these things do not confirm that the council is wrong for not passing a resolution on what is happening in Russia, they are examples of the council over-reaching and stepping into waters that they have not one single good reason for stepping in.
Posted by inquiastador on September 18, 2013 at 8:23 PM · Report this
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8
The SEATTLE city council was elected to be concerned about SEATTLE, not spend all their time pontificating on issues many thousands of miles away that don't directly effect the quality of life in SEATTLE.
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on September 19, 2013 at 6:34 PM · Report this
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11
#8 Why do YOU care if the city council deals with Seattle or not, Arthur? All you do is denounce Seattle for not being segregationist and not using even more police brutality against blacks(as if demonizing black people and restricting them further would solve any problems at all, and as if most poor people weren't white, and as if the really issue isn't the greed of the 1%, not the behavior of people who don't look like you).

You hate Seattle anyway, Arthur. Why don't you just move to Yakima and be done with it?

(Oh yeah...Yakima has Latino farm workers...you couldn't handle that, either).

Or Northern Idaho?

(Oh yeah, they drove your friends out of Northern Idaho).

Guess there aren't any places you can go at all and feel at home, are there, Arthur?

Other than maybe Macon Country, Georgia, in 1953. Or South Africa before freedom came.

Or Berlin, before VE Day.
Posted by AlaskanbutnotSeanParnell on September 20, 2013 at 2:22 PM · Report this
12
@11
Why do YOU care if the city council deals with Seattle or not, Arthur? All you do is denounce Seattle for not being segregationist and not using even more police brutality against blacks(as if demonizing black people and restricting them further would solve any problems at all, and as if most poor people weren't white, and as if the really issue isn't the greed of the 1%, not the behavior of people who don't look like you).
Where did you come up with this shit? Your boyfriend just leave you?

Well ABNSP, I will not fuck you no matter how many times you ask. You just need to get over me, I'm already taken. Anyway, I was told you don't know how to properly wipe your ass, and that's kind of a turn-off.
Posted by Arthur Zifferelli on September 20, 2013 at 6:31 PM · Report this
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14
#14, Arthur, Arthur, Arthur...again with your secret fantasies.

Look, I have a lot of gay friends, but that's not how I roll...and, sorry buddy, but even if I did, well, don't flatter yourself.

Weird how racism and twisted homophobia(driven by secret closeted longings, perhaps?)seem to go together.

You have only one theme, Arthur...all black people are poor, all poor people are black, black people who are poor and poor people who happen to be black(most poor people, including most homeless people, are white, as you of course know)are poor because of their race and the moral defeciency you think that being a member of that race automatically causes.

In the world MOST of us live in, poverty is actually caused, in most cases(and made worse, in most if not all cases)by the actions of corporate power and their intersections with the actions of white supremacists. The white supremacists not only make life worse for the minority of the poor and homeless who are black or brown, they make life worse for the white homeless, the white barely-not-homeless poor, adn the black, white, brown and red working-class folks who are struggling to stay out of outright poverty...by using race as a smokescreen to pit the have-nots against each other.

This is why we need a full-employment economy...so that people aren't pushed into the economic danger zones that produce bigotry and misery.

And it's why we need a full-respect social and economic system that doesn't discard people, doesn't declare people losers and failures, doesn't lay people off right before they'd be eligible for a pension, and in general doesn't treat the majority of us as economic cannon-fodder.

Working for that is a lot more useful than equating poverty with blackness and blackness with depravity.

Why don't you run for mayor? You seem to be sure
More...
Posted by AlaskanbutnotSeanParnell on September 22, 2013 at 3:19 PM · Report this

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