First a little context:
A video depicting a man being raped with a bottle has surfaced on social media, in what appears to be the latest assault on Russia's beleaguered homosexual community. The series of short clips, making the rounds on the mobile-phone application WhatsApp show the victim, who seems to be an ethnic Uzbek, being bullied into confessing that he is gay. He is asked to identify himself and is stripped of his clothes, which are later burned. He is then handcuffed, beaten, insulted, and threatened with a gun. Ultimately, he is forced to sodomize himself by sitting on a bottle, which is then pushed [in] with a bat. The man, visibly terrified, weeps throughout much of the ordeal.
Assaults like this are not a new development in Putin's Russia:
Anti-gay vigilante groups have been running free in Russia, nationwide, for months now, with little to no interesting from the Russian authorities.... Typically the vigilantes film the entire kidnapping and attack—which often includes forcing the victim to drink urine—and then post the video on Russian social media. They also attack transgender Russians as well. In spite of the fact that the videos always contain the faces of the attackers, and usually the home towns are indicated by the local scenery, the Russian authorities do next to nothing.
These anti-gay vigilante groups sprang up after the Russian government passed a series of laws that have criminalized being out of the closet, banned pride parades, and made adoptions by same-sex couple illegal as well as adoptions by people who live in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. A new law has been proposed that would remove children from the homes of their gay or lesbian parents.
To their credit Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and his opponent, state senator Ed Murray, both attended a recent demonstration—along with 250 others—outside the Russian Consular Residence in Madison Park. (Seattle has two gay city council members: Sally J. Clark and Tom Rassmussen. Neither bothered to show up.) The Russian Consul General was furious when he learned that Seattle's mayor attended the demonstration at his residence. Andrey Yushmanov sent an angry letter to the mayor: "I would appreciate it if you could clarify whether your support of the protesters reflects the official position on the authorities of Seattle?"
The mayor wrote back to the Yushmanov but his response reflected only his personal position, not the city's position. Why?
McGinn's office said the Seattle City Council refused to take a position against the anti-gay 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," says mayoral spokesman Robert Cruickshank. "She declined." Speaking for Clark, council spokeswoman Dana Robinson-Slote explained that the council declined because they were not part of the protest, and they considered it "off-topic" because it did not "directly relate to city work."
As Dominic pointed out in his first Slog post about this, the Seattle City Council hasn't been shy about taking positions on issues not "directly related to city work" in the past:
That's an interesting argument from the City Council—they only adopt resolutions relating to city business—because the council also passed resolutions recently that oppose federal approval of genetically modified salmon, support a statewide initiative to label genetically modified foods, back marriage equality in Washington State, and seek an end of the Iraq war. Then there are resolutions denouncing the oppressive regime in Burma, seeking an end to Aprtheid in South Africa, calling to end Apartheid yet again, supporting democracy in South Africa, and asking for the release of Nelson Mandela and new congressional sanctions. That was all "directly relate to city work," huh? Were the current and previous councils wrong to pass all those?
Today the Seattle Times pointed out that Sally Clark, "sponsored a 2010 resolution denouncing Arizona’s 'papers please' immigration law."
- Photo by Josh Bis
So what the fuck is going on here?
More of the same. For four years members of the Seattle City Council have been playing this game: refuse to work with the mayor then turn around condemn the mayor for not getting anything done. When people notice what they're up to and attempt to draw attention to the game they're playing—when angry posts like this go up—accuse the mayor of being "divisive."
So here's what's up with Sally J. Clark: She is so blinded by her dislike for the mayor—she long ago endorsed his opponent—that she couldn't bring herself work with the mayor for two minutes on a joint resolution "expressing the City of Seattle’s official position regarding anti-LGBT laws in Russia." Because cooperating with the mayor on something, on anything, would contradict the "divisive" meme that Clark pushes at every opportunity. Clark's game would be merely galling—it would maddening but not infuriating—if it weren't for the feedback activists in the United States are getting from Russia's "beleaguered homosexual community." From Dom's piece in today's Stranger:
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.
The louder we are over here, the safer they are over there.
But, hey, fuck that and fuck them, right? Clark is focused on what's really important: sticking it to Mike McGinn whenever she can.
Senator Ed Murray and Council Member Jean Godden understand that doing whatever we can here to make Russian LGBT people safer over there is more important than getting to call the mayor "divisive" one more time. Today both called bullshit on Sally J. Clark. When asked if Clark was wrong not to join with the mayor and pass a resolution expressing the city's official opposition to Russia's anti-gay laws and the anti-gay violence that has broken out in their wake, Murray said, "I disagree with her. I would want her to do the resolution." When Godden was asked if Clark was in the wrong she said, "Yes, I do believe so. She may reconsider. I would prevail upon her to do so. I would vote for it."
So here we are: there's a small thing that the lesbian president of the Seattle City Council can do that might in some small way prevent this from happening to someone else...
But Sally Clark refuses to do it. Because unlike "papers please" laws in Arizona and the Iraq War and GMOs and circus animals or apartheid in South Africa, attacks on LGBT Russians aren't "directly related to city work." Because Mike McGinn is "divisive." (Clark will hold up this post—a post I wouldn't have written if she had done the right thing in the first fucking place—as proof that McGinn is "divisive.") Because sticking it to the mayor is more important than making Russia a tiny bit safer for LGBT people. Because we are having an election in two months. Because she couldn't give a shit.
Despicable. Pathetic. Disgusting.
Shame on Sally Clark.
Sally J. Clark