After an ongoing campaign by the Stranger's Slog to get the city council to pass a nonbinding resolution condemning Russia for its anti-"gay propaganda" policies in advance of the 2014 Olympics (for example, calling city council president Sally Clark "despicable," "pathetic," and "disgusting" when she didn't propose a resolution), all nine council members have signed a letter to the Russian consul general in Seattle, Andrey Yushmanov, condemning the law.
The letter also announces a forum at city hall on November 18 to discuss LGBT rights in Russia and internationally.
The letter reads in part:
Recent news from Russia regarding the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and adults causes us grave concern. ... Russia's proposed and enacted laws tear apart families; take hope away from lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth; endanger health; and prohibit lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from speaking freely. The impacts of these measures reverberate negatively around the world.
Last month, Clark, who's gay, wrote a lengthy response to the onslaught of criticism, noting that policies in other nations aren't usually the Seattle City Council's purview and pointing out that at least 75 other nations have similarly "abhorrent" policies.
She also responded to Slog's accusation that she was not proposing a resolution as a way to take an issue away from McGinn, who supported a resolution.
Instead of building conspiracy theories about why I didn’t say yes to a resolution, why not come up with strategies to better educate people on what’s happening in Russia and in these 76 countries, and give people real ways to be heard and make change. And do you want to talk about the situation for women in far too many parts of the globe? That can keep us busy with resolutions for a while, too.
We asked Clark about what certainly looks, on its face, like a total 180. Clark says when she asked groups like the World Affairs Council, the Seattle Women's Commission, and gay-rights groups like All Out to find out "what action would be meaningful," they came up with the idea of a public forum. As for the letter, Clark says, "There's an unresolved question here, and this lets the consul gewneral know that Seattle doesn't stand for this kind of thing."
Clark says the council opted for a letter instead of a resolution because "just snapping up and saying we'll do an off-the shelf resolution right now didn't seem all that meaningful, and the way it had been argued was not all that constructive. ... Istill believe that if we do a resolution it should be because we believe the resolution will mean something."
Given that Russia is hardly the only nation with repressive anti-LGBT laws—as she herself pointed out in her original blog post—what changed? "Russia is at top of mind for people because of the Olympics," Clark says. "My argument would be that [the forum] provides us an opportunity to talk about those other countries as well."