GSBA Letter to the Seattle LGBTQ Commission

by Louise Chernin, President & CEO and Stephanie Dallas, Board Chair
| Oct 30, 2020
This letter was sent to the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, the office of Mayor Jenny Durkan, and the Seattle City Council on October 30, 2020.

To the members of the Seattle LGBTQ Commission -

For a commission charged with advising the Mayor, City Council, and city agencies on issues that affect the LGBTQ community, including acting as a bridge between the LGBTQ community and the City, the Seattle LGBTQ Commission failed its due diligence in voting to ask for Mayor Durkan’s resignation. The Commission appears not to have not done much, if any, outreach to the wider LGBTQ community, including GSBA, for input on such a serious decision. Certainly, before a community Commission takes such a controversial and potentially divisive vote, one would have expected that this was a decision reached with wide community input - including community organizations - plus a consensus of the entire Commission and not simply by a plurality of six votes out of the current fifteen sitting Commissioners. So, although GSBA is a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse candidates, we feel compelled to speak out against the lack of a fully inclusive and transparent process that occurred when you voted to ask the Mayor to resign.

Seattle, as the rest of the country, is in the midst of the greatest health care crisis of our time, a perilous economic downturn, a divisive election season, and a national reckoning about systemic racism. Any one of these issues requires that all agenciestake their responsibility to listen to their constituencies and look for ways to bring communities together to address such critical issues. Instead, our LGBTQ Commission made the decision to move forward with a decision that may not be representative of the majority of our community at best, and could be damaging and incredibly divisive at a time when we all are in need of thoughtful leadership.

Public opinion is divided on the Mayor’s performance, including within the LGBTQ community. Whether you believe Mayor Durkan did right or wrong, you will find members of the community who praise her and others who criticize her handling of critical city issues, including those outlined by the Commission, i.e. the budget, police and City response to demonstrations, and homelessness.

Everyone has the civic right to challenge our Mayor’s handling of any issue. However, Mayor Durkan is our duly elected Mayor in the last year of her term. The Washington Supreme Court already decided that the recall effort against Mayor Durkan had no merit. Here, the election is the process to decide whether to replace an elected official.

In Seattle, we are fortunate to have an LGBTQ commission alongside the other commissions that provide a voice for our most marginalized communities. GSBA believes commissions are important, which is why we took a leadership role in creating Washington State’s first LGBTQ Commission. However, with a commission comes serious responsibility to do due diligence in thoughtfully representing the concerns of one’s community. GSBA does not believe that the Seattle LGBTQ Commission did so, when it took this vote to ask for Mayor Durkan’s resignation. It may be too late to change that vote, but it is never too late to start a more thoughtful process.
For equality,

Louise Chernin, GSBA President & CEO
Stephanie Dallas, GSBA Board Chair