On Tuesday, a younger cousin of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray came forward, alleging that the Democratic mayor had molested him in the 1970s. Joseph Dyer, a dialysis technician and Air Force veteran, is the fifth man to accuse Seattle’s mayor of sexual abuse. Murray has rebuffed calls for his resignation and has said that his current term will be his last one as Seattle’s mayor. Yet in light of this most recent allegation, Murray announced Tuesday afternoon that he would resign on Wednesday.
Murray, who is gay, first ran for public office in 1995, losing a Senate bid to state Representative Pat Thibaudeau. Shortly after the election, Murray was appointed to fill Thibaudeau’s seat in Washington’s 43rd Legislative District, which includes Seattle. Murray became the mayor of Seattle in 2013, making Seattle the largest city in the country to have a gay male mayor.
Murray has denied the allegations brought against him, saying that they are politically motivated and/or driven by financial reasons.
Here is what you need to know about Mayor Ed Murray.
1. Murray Has Been Accused of Sexual Abuse by Five Men
Delvonn Heckard filed a lawsuit in April of 2017 that claimed Murray had “raped and molested” him in 1986 and that Murray paid Heckard money in exchange for sex. Heckard was a teenage drug addict at the time and in his lawsuit, claimed that he and Murray had sex more than 50 times over the course of four years, with money being exchanged each time. Heckard withdrew his lawsuit, although he has said he plans to refile it. He has also filed for damages against the city of Seattle.
After Heckard came forward, others started to follow. Maurice Lavon Jones claimed he was introduced to Murray by Heckard and that Murray paid him for sex in the 1980’s. Jones was a teenage prostitute in the 1980’s and like Heckard, was addicted to drugs. He is currently in jail on drug charges.
Two of the accusers, Jeff Simpson and Lloyd Anderson, grew up together in a group home in Portland, Oregon and both made claims that during that time Murray sexually abused them on multiple occasions. Simpson was a live-in foster son of Murray’s in the late 1970’s and claims that Murray began sexually abusing at 13 and that it continued into the 1980’s.
2. Murray was Instrumental in the Passage of Washington’s Anti-Discrimination Bill
Murray, who had come out as gay in 1980 while attending the University of Portland, had been an advocate of gay-rights issue since he started in politics in the the late 1980’s. In 1988 he worked for Cal Anderson, the state’s first openly gay legislator, before going on to manage a nonprofit organization that focused on gay rights.
In 2006, his last year as a member of the House, Murray was instrumental in the passing of an anti-discrimination law that barred Washington businesses from discriminating against gays and lesbians. The Anderson-Murray Anti-Discrimination Law had been in the works for years, having been debated by Washington officials for next three decades. The bill “protects minorities from discrimination based on race, religion, gender and disabilities.”
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“For some of us, and I think for the whole state, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day,” Murray said at the time. “I’m very happy,” Murray said. “It’s a moment of joy.”
The one thing the bill did not do was make it legal for same-sex couples to marry, although that was next on Murray’s to-do list. Same-sex marriages became legally recognized in Washington in December 2012. Murray had been key figure in the fight and was “widely credited with forging the coalition that made Washington one of the first states to pass a same-sex marriage law through a statewide ballot initiative.”
3. Murray Was Criticized For His Advocacy of an Expensive and Questionable Tunnel Project
In 2009 Murray was a member of the Washington state senate and was one of the main sponsors and advocates of a $2.4 billion financing bill that authorized construction of a tunnel underneath Seattle. The deep-bore tunnel’s purpose was to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, an elevated highway which had been deemed unsafe following a 2001 earthquake. However, the proposed tunnel had problems of it it’s own, problems Murray repeatedly ignored.
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The plan was to tunnel and then create a freeway. In order to do so, the tunnel would have to be the widest of it’s kind in the world at 58 feet. The city brought in Bertha, a $80 million drill to do the work, but in December of 2013 it broke down. The drill was stuck below downtown Seattle and didn’t move for two years. This past April, it finally broke through and came out the other side – two years longer than was originally scheduled.
As the primary sponsor of the original bill, a good amount of local blame was assigned to Murray as delays and costs grew. Opponents and critics argue that Murray ignored concerns about the viability of the project, as well as realistic forecasts of what it would cost.
4. In Response to North Carolina’s Controversial Bathroom Bill, Murray Banned City Officials From Traveling to North Carolina
As a mayor, Murray continued to be a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community and in 2016, in response to North Carolina’s passing of H.B. 2, also known as the Bathroom Bill, Murray signed an Executive Order that banned city officials from traveling to North Carolina for city business. H.B. 2 revoked civil rights protections for LGTBQ people and was roundly criticized and denounced. Murray’s Executive Order banned “official City of Seattle travel by employees to North Carolina.”
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“It is my hope for our nation that we do not allow issues of discrimination to divide us,” said Mayor Murray at the time. “Our union is only made stronger when all Americans are treated equitably.”
Murray’s Executive Order was on par with that of the mayor of San Francisco, who had also restricted travel by city employees to North Carolina.
5. Murray Married His Partner of 22 Years in 2013
Murray married his long-time partner Michael Shiosaki in August 2013, 22 years after they first met. They had met in 1991 while both hiking in Mount Rainer National Park in Washington. Shiosaki works for Seattle’s Parks and Recreation Department. At the time of their wedding, Murray was in the middle of his mayoral campaign.
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Both men are natives of Washington and were determined to hold out and get married in their home state. Their marriage came less than a year after Murray helped make same-sex marriage legal in Washington.