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March 20, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Gay leaders from Israel snubbed by Seattle LGBT Commission

Not all Seattle gay and lesbian leaders refused meeting

I am writing to correct an image left by an article published this last week: that across the board, Seattle gay and lesbian community leaders refused to meet with leaders of Israel’s major LGBT organizations. [“Gay leaders from Israel snubbed by gay panel,” NWSaturday, March 17.]

I and others personally met with the Alliance of Israeli LGBTQ Educational Organizations and sought its insight. These are people who are moving rights for gays and lesbians forward; people like Adir Steiner, whose work led the Israeli military to recognize committed same-sex relationships as equal to the marriages of straight couples.

I am disappointed in the Seattle LGBT Commission’s refusal to meet with such champions of gay and lesbian civil rights. It’s especially disappointing given the fact that important parts of the Jewish community in our state, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, have stood side-by-side with the LGBT community in our fight for justice. They stood by us when we passed groundbreaking anti-discrimination laws, and they have again stood by us in our most recent push for marriage equality.

The Seattle LGBT Commission’s highest priority should be the advancement of the LGBT community. It should recognize the efforts of women and men who have had the individual courage it takes to move society toward greater acceptance of gay and lesbian rights. It should recognize this is a global struggle, in which we have allies, and that those allies deserve more respect than they were given last week.

— State Sen. Edward B. Murray, 43rd District, Seattle

Jewish people, gay community share struggle against oppression

The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle is disappointed that Seattle’s LGBT Commission chose to cancel a planned event with Israeli LGBTQ activists. These activists represent a broad cross section of the Israeli LGBT community. Some have been fighting for LGBT civil rights in Israel for more than 30 years.

We are especially disappointed because right here in Washington state, the Jewish Federation and a large portion of the Jewish community has stood shoulder to shoulder with the LGBT community whenever there was a battle to be fought.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and Jews from around the world have taken up the cause of LGBT civil rights because the struggle for acceptance against oppression is intrinsic to the story of the Jewish people.

Israel’s story is ultimately one of people who have overcome enormous odds to create a fair and decent society. Like all democracies, Israel is not perfect, but it is a work in progress rooted in the foundation of human rights and democratic values.

— Zach Carstensen, Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Seattle

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