The Space Needle, flying a flag in solidarity with another iconic Seattle business.
The Space Needle, flying a flag in solidarity with another iconic Seattle business. MAT HAYWARD/Shutterstock

The Space Needle, a tall-ish observation tower you may have noticed just about a mile or so northwest of the retail core, is the de facto logo for one of the most liberal cities in America. Despite this association, the monument often becomes a sort of looming battlement of conservative ideology, owing to its corporate ownership. The most recent embarrassment came with the leaked Space Needle Corp. webinar, aimed at workers, on the subject of “How to Live on Less” (which is simple, by the way: eat only soup, add water to the soup, stop feeding your dog, turn your dog into soup, etc.). But labor disputes between the needle's employees and its management are an established trend. With this conflict very much unresolved, it came as a disappointment to some when the Greater Seattle Business Association decided to honor Space Needle Corp. with the title “Corporate Leader of the Year” at its annual GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards yesterday. Reached for comment, a representative outlined the nature of the award.

The Space Needle was recognized for raising the Rainbow Flag and then the Marriage Equality Flag, afterwards donating those flags to auctions for LGBT nonprofits; hosting a number of LGBT weddings at their venue; the generous support they give to Travel Gay Seattle, an initiative which they sponsor; support for marriage equality and the ongoing support they give to the citywide campaign, “Marry Me in Seattle”; their ongoing hosting of GSBA’s Women on Top; their very generous support of several nonprofits including the GSBA Scholarship Fund and Mary’s Place and many other projects on which they are engaged.

It's clear that this is an act of goodwill, aimed at putting the days when decisions about the Rainbow Flag were a point of contention between the Needle and LGBT groups squarely in the past. But it's hard to deny that the award seems a little tone-deaf to the state of the labor movement today.