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Tom Shillue


Rantz: Mayor Ed Murray’s LGBTQ inconsistency?

On the topic of LGBTQ rights, is Seattle Mayor Ed Murray being inconsistent? It’s a tough question without an easy answer.

In order to fight against the perceived attack on the country’s Muslim community by the Trump administration, Murray will deliver his State of the City address at the Idris Mosque in Northgate. And while many are discussing the separation of Church and State issue, it’s missing a more troublesome topic: is Murray living up to his vow to fight against LGBTQ discrimination?

Related: Did Mayor Murray overstate sanctuary city money?

When lawmakers in North Carolina and Indiana, driven by their religious convictions, took positions Murray deemed discriminatory, he banned city travel to those states. It was symbolic, but symbolism can be important. (It was also shockingly hypocritical.)

“It is my hope for our nation that we do not allow issues of discrimination to divide us,”Mayor Murray said at the time. “Our union is only made stronger when all Americans are treated equitably.”

I agree. So why is the mayor conducting city business at a mosque that he wouldn’t be able to get married in?

I mean, I know why he’s attending the mosque: it’s a political statement; a stunt to show how inclusive Murray is of a community he believes is oppressed. But, too often, Progressives who stand up for Muslims seem to neglect the religion’s stance on LGBTQ issues – a pass generally not offered to Christians.

Take for example The Stranger, which will proudly stand up for protests against the perceived Muslim ban, while highlighting Seattle’s “Best Christians” because “They’re Not All Homophobic, Science-Denying, Uterus-Controlling, Government-Dismantling Jerks—Praise the Lord!” Similarly, while complaining about the lack of attention to the issue of homelessness, a notorious Twitter troll/blogger complains that the city works with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission because they’re a Christian organization.

The treatment by Progressives, generally, seems inconsistent.

Now, Mayor Murray points out there is a difference between what Indiana did and what a religious institution stands for.

“As Seattle has done repeatedly since President Trump’s inauguration, we must always stand up against state-sponsored discrimination and with those who would be persecuted by the government,” the Mayor said in a statement sent to me.

It’s a valid point: perceived discrimination by the government is, indeed, different than religious beliefs espoused by a mosque (or Church or temple). But it feels like a distinction without a difference – at least in this case.

Related: The staggering hypocrisy of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

But when he joined the Mayors Against Discrimination coalition, Murray said he would fight “discrimination of any kind and to protect civil rights everywhere.” Is that what the mayor is doing here?

“…we have more work to do to build more welcoming communities, and that must be done through inclusion and engagement with all our neighbors,” he explained to me in the email statement. “As a practicing Roman Catholic, I experience the tension that exists within our faith. We confront that tension in our communities, with the goal of being more inclusive and welcoming.”

But that’s not what’s happening here. Murray isn’t taking this as an opportunity to speak out against the religion’s view of homosexuality.

“While this is an important conversation, we must keep those religious beliefs separate from public policy and act whenever governments single out communities based on their faith, race, gender or sexual orientation,” he explains.

Fair enough, though this is his interpretation of things. On the issue of providing services for gay weddings when you’re a devout Christian (or Muslim, for that matter), we shouldn’t pretend it’s a black and white issue. One could easily make the case that forcing a business to service a gay wedding is a state-sanctioned religious discrimination, whether or not the WA Supreme Court agrees. The Supreme Court hasn’t exactly made this conflict easy to decipher.

Still, I can’t help but wonder when the public and sustained conversation with the Muslim community on important LGBTQ issues will occur. Progressives tell us they’re such great allies of the Muslim community, yet the religious views on a number of issues are in direct conflict with Progressive tenets (kind of like gay rights conflict with religious liberties, a topic Progressives choose to fight while ignoring the conflicts they have with Islam).

Is the mayor being inconsistent on his own fight for gay rights? I’m not sure. But it’s worth discussing. Leave your comments below.

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