EVERETT — For the second year in a row, Snohomish County formally recognized June as Pride Month without the support of Republican County Council members.
Councilmember Nate Nehring cast the sole “no” vote against Wednesday’s resolution proclaiming “LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights.”
In an email, Nehring told The Daily Herald he would have supported a resolution about bullying, mental health or suicide.
“However, I would be violating my own personal conscience by supporting a resolution promoting or celebrating particular lifestyles,” he said.
Councilmember Sam Low, who is now running for a Republican-held seat in the Legislature, was absent from the meeting. He also missed last year’s vote for a similar Pride Month resolution. Low declined to say how he would have voted.
“Yeah, I’m not going to — I don’t have any comment,” he said the day after the meeting. “I’m not speculating on any of the votes yesterday. There was a pretty big vote on the airport yesterday, too.”
The resolution was spearheaded by council Chair Megan Dunn. It mentions the 1969 Stonewall rebellion and cites discrimination, violence and other disparities LGBTQ people face, including higher rates of suicide and homelessness.
“During a year of record-breaking anti-gender and anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation around the nation, Snohomish County remains committed to being an ally and protecting the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community,” the resolution reads.
Dunn, a Democrat, pointed to Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans instruction about sexuality or gender in early grade school. This year, hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills are being considered across the nation, about half of them taking aim at transgender people, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Dunn also noted a controversial proposal by the Marysville School Board to require parental consent before students can join non-curricular students groups, including LGBTQ clubs. Advocates say it could push queer kids into hiding, or force them to out themselves.
The county’s resolution was crafted with the help of county departments, youth shelter Cocoon House, local advocacy groups and the Greater Seattle Business Alliance, an LGBTQ chamber of commerce.
Councilmembers Stephanie Wright and Jared Mead also voted “yes.”
Dunn said the “no” vote from her colleague was “hurtful.”
“And I feel sorry for the residents in the two districts where they either voted no or refused to attend,” she said. “Unfortunately, we have extreme members who are refusing to recognize the human rights of everyone in their county.”
Low said he was absent because he was teaching a 10th grade English class. Before Wednesday, Low said, he had only missed three votes all year.
“I mean, (Dunn) can say whatever she wants to say,” Low said. “This is about celebrating Pride, and for Councilmember Dunn to try to come after me on this and make accusations I think is pretty unusual.”
Next Wednesday at noon, the county will raise a pride flag at its Everett campus and kick off a celebration featuring food trucks, speakers, drag queens, “free mom hugs,” sexually transmitted infection testing and other services.
Dunn organized the event.
Nehring said he won’t be in attendance.
Asked about the event, Low said: “I don’t know anything about it.”