Seattle LGBTQ Commission calls on mayor to resign

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle LGBTQ Commission has called on Mayor Jenny Durkan to resign, joining the Seattle Human Rights Commission in taking that stance.

The commission’s vote earlier this month was 6-5, with one abstention, The Seattle Times reported.

In a letter this week to Durkan and the City Council, the LGBTQ Commission said she should immediately step down “for failing to uphold and protect the human rights of the people of Seattle,” citing concerns about her record on police violence, homelessness and budgeting.

Durkan’s office objected to multiple assertions in the letter, describing them as inaccurate or incomplete.

Up for reelection in 2021, Durkan has drawn criticism from many Seattle residents for allowing the Police Department to crack down on Black Lives Matter protest crowds, though she also has drawn criticism for allowing demonstrators and others to occupy blocks on Capitol Hill for several weeks. The mayor also has clashed with council members over homeless encampment removals and the Police Department’s budget.

The 21-seat LGBTQ Commission is made up of volunteers who advise the mayor, the council and city departments on issues that affect people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer. The mayor, council and the commission appoint members.

Currently, there are five mayoral appointees, seven council appointees, three commission appointees and six vacancies.

“It is with a heavy heart that we call for Mayor Durkan’s resignation. Mayor Durkan is Seattle’s first out lesbian mayor and only the second woman to hold that office. … Such representation is important,” the commission said in its letter.

“However, that representation must involve work to protect our community members from very real harm and violence that has been leveraged against Black and brown LGBTQ+ people,” the commission added. “Mayor Durkan’s actions in office have not only failed to create meaningful change for our community, but have indeed undermined other efforts within Seattle to create a more just future.”

The Human Rights Commission cited similar concerns when it took the same position earlier this month.

In response, Durkan spokesperson Kelsey Nyland said for decades, Durkan has been on the forefront of LGBTQ issues in Washington state and Seattle, mentioning advocacy for civil rights and marriage equality.

Durkan was the first openly gay person appointed as a U.S. attorney, and as mayor she has championed housing and shelter for LGBTQ seniors and youth, Nyland noted.

“This year, Mayor Durkan has been leading the city at an unprecedented moment through a pandemic, civil rights reckoning, climate crisis, and the worst economic crisis that Seattle has faced in generations,” the spokesperson added, mentioning that Durkan has recently been subject to homophobic and misogynistic attacks from some critics.

“The Mayor has worked to find a common path forward on each of these challenges and will continue to do so,” Nyland said.