Godden and Murray, putting politics aside.
  • Godden and Murray, putting politics aside.

Even though gay activists from Russia say that attention from the US will help halt the country's anti-gay rapes, beatings, and murders, Seattle City Council president Sally Clark has said the city shouldn't take a position on the issue by passing a resolution. Today the Seattle Times backed up Clark, because a resolution, which would oppose the recently passed anti-gay laws in Russia, aren't part of the city's "core work."

But at least one other council member disagrees.

This afternoon Council Member Jean Godden contradicted the council president. When she was asked if Council President Clark was wrong to block the resolution, Godden said unequivocally, "Yes, I do believe [she is wrong]. She may reconsider. I would prevail upon her to do so. I would vote for it."

Then Ed Murray, who has been endorsed for mayor by a majority of the city council (including Godden today and Clark last month), also said at the same press conference today, "If I were mayor, I would ask the council to sponsor a resolution or proclamation... I would disagree with [Clark]."

In other words, Clark does not speak for the entire Seattle City Council. How many more of her colleagues dissent? I e-mailed every member of the council this afternoon to ask their position—to find out if others disagree with Clark and support a resolution—and will update this post when I hear back.

Murray even agrees with Mayor Mike McGinn on this issue. Both candidates attended a protest at the Russian consular residence in Seattle this month. Even though they are campaigning against each other, they both support a resolution and seem to put politics aside for this issue.

But not Clark and the Seattle Times. They all but admitted today that they are taking their position purely for political reasons. “This is a mayor who does a great job of finding wedge issues and pushing them,” Clark told the Seattle Times. “That is not constructive for a working relationship with me.”

Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times Editorial Board, which endorsed Murray, added on his own behalf: "I assumed the mayor was trying to pick a fight with the council to fire up LGBT activists."

However, the mayor didn't create this issue. It was the Russian consul general who first asked about the city's position in a letter, not the mayor. Mayor McGinn had tried to find the city's position by asking the council if it was interested in a joint resolution that stated the city's position—again, in response to a question from the Russian consul—and the council refused. The council refused, because, a spokeswoman told me, it did not relate directly to city business, even though that's a double-standard. The council has a long history of passing tons of resolutions unrelated to city work.

The mayor did not start this conversation. The Russian official did, and I followed up by asking the mayor and council what happened. If this is a political wedge issue, it's Clark making this "wedge issue" and blaming the mayor. And if anyone is "trying to pick a fight," it's the daily paper that is backing McGinn's opponent. But this should be above petty city politics. (Murray and Godden, again, both get that.) This is about doing what we can to stop the terrorizing, oppression, beating, and killing of gay, lesbian, bi and trans Russians. They say that when we make noise in Seattle, they're safer in Russia. So this is simple: If we can pass stacks of resolutions unrelated to city business about about overseas wars, oppressive Asian regimes, state ballot measures, and salmon farms, surely we can speak up about the human atrocities in Russia. Surely Clark can reconsider. Surely the Seattle Times can see that.