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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 27, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 43
Mayoral race gets ugly:
Durkan campaign charges Moon supporters with homophobia
Controversial email at heart of the complaint
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Mayoral race gets ugly:
Durkan campaign charges Moon supporters with homophobia
Controversial email at heart of the complaint

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan's campaign has charged her opponent's supporters with homophobia as the campaign goes into its final days before the November 7 election.

Durkan's campaign spokesperson, Stephanie Formas, emailed the SGN on October 24, saying that sexist and homophobic attacks on Durkan were 'now being promoted by one of the top donors to Cary Moon's SuperPAC/IE.'

As documentation, Formas forwarded a fundraising pitch from the LGBT Victory Fund, which has endorsed Durkan.

'The opponents of Jenny Durkan - who could become the first lesbian mayor of Seattle - are launching sexist and homophobic attacks just two weeks before election day,' the Victory Fund said.

'In a widespread appeal, one of her opponent's top supporters said people should vote against Jenny because a woman can be in power 'without always looking like a man,' an outrageous slur meant to belittle a strong, experienced, battle-tested lesbian determined to make lives better for the people of Seattle.' (Italics and bold in the original.)

When asked to name the Moon supporters involved, Formas pointed the SGN to an October 17 email sent by Lisa Fitzhugh to her private email list. Fitzhugh is a community activist, onetime advisor to former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, founder of the Creative Ground consulting group, and also a supporter of Durkan's rival, Cary Moon.

Formas also said that Fitzhugh's email was 'highlighted' by Jabe Blumenthal, the 'top donor' mentioned in Formas's email to the SGN, on his personal blog. However, there is currently no mention of Fitzhugh's email or the ideas contained in it on Blumenthal's blog.

In her email, which was sent by Formas to the SGN, Fitzhugh reflects on the legacy of Seattle's first - and to date only - woman mayor, Bertha Knight Landes, and then explains why she likes Moon. Fitzhugh describes Durkan as 'resembling machinery, political machinery to be exact,' a phrase Formas highlighted as offensive.

'For those of you who are afraid of leaning into Cary Moon for Mayor, I say listen to your heart,' Fitzhugh continued.

'Listen to a debate between Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon and ask yourself who feels more grounded and real. Ask yourself who inspires you more to care and get involved. And ask yourself who is modeling a new way women can be in their power without always looking and acting like a man. We can be women and also be powerful executives. It can be done, and Cary shows us how.' (Bold and underscore in the original.)

Formas also highlighted the underscored sentence as 'sexist and homophobic.'

When contacted by the SGN, Fitzhugh denied the charges leveled at her by Durkan's campaign. She did not mean 'looking and acting like a man' to be taken literally, she explained.

'I have learned that expressing any point of view about the 'masculine' and 'feminine' from a heteronormative POV is, for some people in the LBGTQ community, inherently homophobic,' Fitzhugh wrote in an explanatory email to the SGN.

'So I can understand why they would read my remarks and take offense. For this I apologize. I have lived my life as a straight white female, trying to mold myself into 'looking and acting more like a man' to be accepted by the patriarchal power structure. I believe men have defined what executive power 'looks like' (not as in how we dress or do our hair) but how we lead and make decisions and involve people, etc. I am uniquely moved by Cary Moon's ability to show up [and] NOT come across in the more male version of executive power. I have still not found the courage to do that myself and I find it inspiring.'

Moon's campaign consultant, Heather Weiner - an out Lesbian - told the SGN that she interpreted Fitzhugh's remarks as an unsuccessful attempt to address the issue of gender roles in politics.

'To me, a lesbian married to a masculine/butch woman, I didn't see it as homophobic but part of a larger discussion about gender,' Weiner said.

'Any time a woman - regardless of sexuality - operates in the public sphere, she's scrutinized for gender cues, and that's got to stop. While I understand the underlying intent, to open up a discussion about sexism and gender roles in politics, the writer chose the wrong words and understandably a few people were offended. She's since apologized.'

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Mayoral race gets ugly:
Durkan campaign charges Moon supporters with homophobia
Controversial email at heart of the complaint

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