Passing a city council resolution to oppose Russia's anti-gay laws and show Seattle's solidarity with oppressed gay Russians is just not that hard. It is the right thing to do and city hall should end its embarrassing small-town bickerfest, spend twenty minutes on it, and get it done. As a start.

The issue of Russia's war on gays is now horrifically raised. It is not going away soon. Most importantly, there is a chance right now to increase global pressure in the hope of preventing an another immediate catastrophe: the adoption of a heinous law currently under consideration that will remove children from their own families if one or both parents are gay. That's the tip of the iceberg of a growing mountain of oppression.

Seattle leads on gay rights here; it should lead on gay rights globally. With one of only a handful of Russian Consuls General living in our city, Seattle can be a focal point and a pressure point. The Consul himself has asked the City to clarify its position. We should let him have it, full force.

Resolutions, proclamations, recognitions and official greetings are ordinary work of governments everywhere. The Seattle's Mayor's Office and Seattle City Council consider, draft, and enact hundreds each year. The docs typically range from celebrating a local citizen's 100th birthday to heralding the resurrection of a fancy local fireworks display, to welcoming nerds for some convention geekery via encrypted message.

For a few years, one of my jobs was to draft these things for the mayor's office and ship 'em. There was an easy back-and-forth with council staffers when a "joint" document to be signed by both mayor and council was in the works.

At city council, the souped-up version is a resolution that goes before full council for a vote. Usually passed, often unanimously, they become official—and are often swiftly forgotten.

Some are high-minded loopiness. The 2010 Proclamation championed by Richard Conlin to declare Seattle a "Compassionate City," is a prime specimen of the flowery, baroque, irrelevant sort that are rubberstamped by everyone and sent right along.

Once in a while, one comes along that truly matters.

The city council, for example, passed six separate resolutions on apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. The first five apartheid resolutions all passed unanimously and condemned, one way or another, the oppressive racist policies of the South African government.

Were they worth doing? Read the sixth and final resolution the council passed, #28829, which welcomed "the ending of the system of apartheid in the Republic of South Africa and revoking Resolutions 27220, 27733, 28215, 28141 28438 and 28243 that had imposed economic sanctions as part of an international campaign" and judge for yourself.

Apartheid ended because of the struggle and work of millions over decades, not a handful of city resolutions. But surely such resolutions do no harm—and especially upon the first emergence of an issue into global awareness—these resolutions are valuable for getting the word out and adding to the pressure. In a Gallup poll taken over the last few days, only 45 percent of people surveyed said they were aware of the LGBT crisis in Russia and yet of those 69 percent disapproved of Russia's anti-gay laws, so there is a lot more awareness to build.

Importantly, resolutions like this are the opposite of doing nothing, which a distressing number of folks seem to offer as a preferred alternative.

The shitstorm kicked up in the Seattle City Council the last few days must really be about something else—something far less important that the Russian LGBT human rights crisis. Whether it’s bruised egos, campaign maneuvering, or the tiresome neener-neenerism the 2nd and 7th floors of City Hall seem hell bent to fling at each other. It is beneath Seattle and an embarrassment on this issue.

Gay rights are human rights and human rights are global. That much, said right now to the Russian government, both here and there, in a city resolution, is something Seattle can surely agree on.

To make it E-Z, we've already done the homework. Here's a draft resolution on Russia after the jump. Now, everyone—grow up and get it done.

A Resolution Declaring Seattle's Support for and Solidarity with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the Russian Federation and their Allies

Whereas, the full human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their allies are under attack in the Russian Federation; and

Whereas, the Russian government has enacted laws that prohibit the free speech of gay people, prohibit speaking publicly and positively about gay people, and prohibit positive public speech about gays by allies of gay people; and

Wherease, the Russian government has begun to prosecute both its own citizens and visiting foreigners under its oppressive anti-gay laws; and

Whereas, the Russian Duma is now considering legislation to authorize the forced removal of children from their own families if a parent is gay; and

Whereas, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Russians and allies around the world have asked that global attention be raised and global pressure be brought to bear against all forms of LGBT persecution in Russia, and that people worldwide who support fundamental human rights demand the repeal of the anti-gay legislation recently adopted in Russia; and

Whereas, both the City of Seattle and its people have proudly led in the historic struggle for LGBT human rights, and all human rights, over many decades; and

Whereas, the historic, cultural, educational and commercial ties between the people of Seattle and the people of Russia have been strong throughout history and will become stronger as we join to advance freedom, equality, human rights and dignity for all,

Now, therefore, the Mayor and City Council of Seattle, Washington in the United States of America do hereby call upon the government of Russia to acknowledge that gay rights are human rights and human rights are global, and to repeal anti-gay legislation throughout the Russia Federation.


Signed this _____th day of September, 2013:

(Mayor and Council Signatures)