Citing law, city reluctantly argues for release of gay employees’ names
Posted on June 19, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
Anti-gay-rights activist wants names of city-sponsored LGBT club
As attorneys for all sides prepare to square off in court, the City of Seattle and a self-described “civil rights leader” seeking the release of the names of gay and lesbian city workers involved in a city-sponsored club have lined up on the same side of the issue.
In separate court filings, the city and the Seattle City Light employee requesting the records argue that the state public-records act requires that the city release the records. City of Seattle employees associated with the department’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Questioning and Friends Club have asked the court to order the city not to release their names.
Reiterating statements made by Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr shortly after the suit was filed, lawyers for the city now assert, reluctantly, that the records requested by City Light employee Philip Irvin.
“The city sympathizes with the concerns that plaintiffs have expressed,” Assistant City Attorney Gary T. Smith said in court documents. “Nonetheless, the city believes that the Public Records Act obligates it to disclose the records at issue.”
Irvin, who claims he’s been barred from attending LGBTQF club meetings because he is heterosexual and opposed to gay rights, has requested that the city release the names of employees belonging to or attending the Seattle Public Utilities-sponsored group.
According to the city’s filing, the department sponsors eight such “affinity” groups for employees “with similar concerns.” Included in the array are groups for employees of different ages or ancestry, including European. Each group is provided with up to $1,000 annually for events, and members are allowed to spend two work hours a month toward group activities.
In arguing that the records should be released, attorneys for the city assert that earlier appeals-court rulings have shown that employee information must be released even if it could result in harassment. The city cites a 2002 case in which King County was ordered by the state Court of Appeals to release a list of sheriff’s deputies’ names.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs assert that the employees’ identities are not releasable under the law, in part because they are of no legitimate public interest.
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