CommunityMy FDL

Cantor David Serkin-Poole honored with ADL’s 2010 Cal Anderson Civil Rights Advocacy Award

Photo Credit Joshua Trujillo

Seattle PI: “From left, Pastor Craig Darling of Seattle First Baptist Church, Rabbi Jonathan Singer of Temple Beth Am and Cantor David Serkin-Poole of Temple B’nai Torah demonstrate for gay rights Wednesday in Kirkland.”

AG McKenna (, Justice Bobbe Bridge, Sen. Ed Murray, Sen Adam Klein, Rep. Marcie Maxwell, Rep. Jamie Pedersen, Rep. Deb Eddy, Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark, Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, Seattle Police Department Deputy Chief Nicholas Metz.

Ed Murray was the 2005 award recipient.

He says award created by ADL in 2000 to honor Cal Anderson, “a remarkable person who was this state’s first openly-gay elected official.  The Cal Anderson Award recognizes individuals and companies who’ve demonstrated exceptional commitment to diversity, equality, justice and reflects the every-day commitment and principles of the Anti-Defamation League.

So who was Cal Anderson?  It’s been 15 years, 3 months and 2 days since Cal died.  So sometimes time obscures who he was. I think of the words that Edward Kennedy wrote about his brother Robert.  Cal may not be idolized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life.  He should be remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, who saw suffering and tried to heal it.

Cal only had a high school education, but he was the brightest man I ever knew.  His job title before he was appointed to the House of Representatives was Scheduler to Mayor Royer.  But he remains one of the great public policy minds of this state.

For those who knew Cal as a frined, he was warm, he was generous and he was humble.  He had a wonderful sense of humor; it was very earthy, and it was very camp.

For those of us who knew him as a politician, he was tough, he was strategic.  He knew how to stand up for his principles, and he knew how to compromise.

Cal stepped onto history’s stage into a role that he did not seek.  He found himself a leader of the community, and he knew that the hopes of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community reste don him.  He knew that so much rode on what he did and how he acted.  His legacy speaks for his success.  His legacy in awards like this, his legacy in the trail that he blazed that each of us who’ve been elected as gay or lesbian public officilas throughout the state – we walk on that trail every day.

David I want to tell you a story.  There was a night in the early 90s when they had a hearing on teh Civil Rights Bill, long before any of us in this room were in the legislature.  And so many people were shipped in by the far religious right that the hearing was moved from the hearing room into the rotunda – into the chamber of the House.  And we heard testimony after testimony of hate cloaked as religion.  And then it was Cantor David Sirkin-Poole’s opportunity to speak.  And what does a cantor do in an environment like that?  Well as the Psalm says, he sung a new song unto the Lord.  And singing in the middle of the House chamber in this hostile environment – the place when silent for the first time in its history.

Later that night David, Cal called me and he said, “Wasn’t David and what he did, wasn’t that just delicious?  He so appreciated what you did that night because everyone’s jaws had dropped and you had made hate silent.  So David, thank you and congratulations from both me and Michael.


Justice Bobbe Bridge said in her decent opinion:

If the DOMA is really about the “sanctity” of marriage, as its title implies, then it is clearly an unconstitutional foray into state-sanctioned religious belief.  If the DOMA purports to further some State purpose of preserving the family unit, as the plurality would interpret it, then a cannot imagine better candidates to fulfill that purpose than the same-sex couples who are the plaintiffs in these consolidated actions.

I agree…that the DOMA wholly fails a rational basis review.


Future generations of justices on this court and future generations of Washingtonians will undoubtedly look back on our holding today with regret and even shame, in the same was that our nation now looks with shame upon our past acts of discrimination.  I will look forward to the time when satte-sanctioned discrimination toward our gay and lesbian citizens is erased from our state’s law books, if not its history.  I dissent.


I accept this award – and it’s important to call it the Cal Anderson Civil Rights Award, thank you Ed for making sure we don’t forget – I accept this award for the following reasons:

1.  The mission of the ADL and why tis core mission is so important to me personally.  The Anti-Defamation league was founded in 1913 to stop defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.

Dateline Israel, jerusalem, November 4 – yesterday.  [reading]…

“The Anti-Defamation League was troubled to learn of the recent expressions of racism towards Bedouin students in Safed.  The cuty’s chief Rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, issued an order forbidding the renting of property to Arabs and Bedoins.  ADL’s Israel Office issued the following statement:

   All citizens of the State of Israel, according to the law, have equal rights including renting apartments.  Citizens should not be discriminated against for their ethnic background.

How proud.  The is the ADL of which we are all proud.  When Hillel said “If I am not for myself, who am I?”, he included the very next statement with equal intensity, “If I am only for myself, what am I?”

When our ADL stands tall against those who would try to destroy us, to destroy Israel, and overtly and subtly impugn our heritage, our rights, we do so in the context of demanding equal treatment for all people.

Fair-minded people may disagree and conduct their own business, religions, cultural and social practices in radically different ways, but if we want our ways to live on, we can only conduct that fight when we’re willing to fight that fight on behalf of all innocent people in our communities.

I accept this award from the ADL because bigotry in all forms must be faught.  each human being is a spark of the holy light, and those lights come in all shades, colors, sizes and strengths.

My dear friend of blessed memory, Mark’s father, Brian’s father , dear one Joe Schuster and I had a conversation many years ago  about the Boy Scouts of America.  They do phenominal work and I know so many boys who’ve been helped by the Boy Scouts of America.  And I have my disagreements with some parts of the Boy Scouts of America – let me be very clear.  

When I was asked by several of my students would I stand up and  speak or give an invocation or say some words at a number of local chapters one of which Joe used to head, I said well I’d be glad as long as I’m listed openly and can talk about my family I’ll be glad to do that.  And I found that so many local leaders here were so committed to values that were so in sync.  And yes there is a global version and there’s a national version, but the reality is we live locally.  We need to honor the local work and fight for the local work that people are doing here.

I’ve found that the world is not black and white – we negotiate the grays of our existance.  As I get older – I guess I’m no longer a long-haired hippie; that’s the one arguement I had with my mother every day of my life, “don’t you think you need a haircut?”  SHe won [stroking shaved head].

I had to learn that art of living in the murky middle.  The people I know in this room are the real grown-ups who know this mature dance.

I accept this award because of my personal conversation with Mr. Abe Foxman.  His leadership and staunch commitment to fighting for justice is unquestionably a great and proud example.  And, the elephant in the room: on some issues, he and I disagree.  But let me quote a conversation I had with Mr. Foxman.  He said, “I may be a mouthpiece but I’m not the ADL mission.  And honorable people can disagree with my interpretation.  Feel free to express your differences, you may tell anyone you wish of our conversation, it is not confidential.”  In that light,for which I’m very grateful, I can say that I am proud that the ADL has activated a task force   of some weight, an interfiath task force, to respond firmly and solidly to the crazy Islamophobia that has taken over this country, not to mention Europe.   I applaud the New York office for this effort.  I told Mr. Foxman personally that if he wanted, needed my help due to the loving relationships that I have with many individuals here in our community, the Muslim community, he can count on my support and my envolvement.  Just say the word.  I said this to him even as I made known to Mr. FOxman how differently I wished he responded to the Islamic Center proposal for Manhattan.

I accept this award today because its focus is the Pacific Northwest ADL and enables our local office to continue its vital work, made of so many people I’ve known for years.  Giving their call to protect human rights including numerous causes to support other religious and ethnic groups.  Not to forget ADL’s unflinching support for full equality of our citizens regardless of who we love and makig sure that the next generation has better materials and curricula to teach youngsters how to get along with our differences.

I accept this award because it inspires me to continue the dream of a community where Jews and our friends here in America  show the world another way.  To build bridges and not tear down – heaven knows there are enough people from all spheres tearing down.  Can you imagine the new initiatives like the ADL’s interfaith task force that is trying to respond to that hatred filling our country, and that hatred toward our Muslim cousins and fellow citizens are experiencing today.  Can you imagine American Muslims and American Jews working together for shared goals of decency, equality, equal treatment under the law and in our hearts.  That can be an unstoppable force for good, a coalition that may not be possible elsewhere.  Thank god it is possible here in the Pacific Northwest and throughout America.  

But here in AMerica with the goodwill of fiercly ethical people like the people in this room today, andI know most of you, we could show the wprld how to do it.

Personally my work with the people of varying degrees of cognitive, physical and emotional abilities is completely supported by the same mission, and I’m so gald to see so many people from the shining light in our community the JFS, Jewish Family Services if you didn’t know.  To see human beings at our best when we build bridges of understanding and acceptance between us all.

I accept this award because Senator Cal Anderson of blessed memory was my friend.  I recollect Michael’s and my last dinner with Cal and Eric, where Cal was criticizing himself, it’s hard to believe, about not being able to do enough.  He was my roll model for what it means to be committed beyond our egoes.  In his memory, the memory of our dear friend Cal, a great American, a great fighter for equality and decent treatment for all, I accept this award with humility and much gratitude.  May the noble work of teh ADL continue on for many years to come.  [??] Thank you very much.


search sgn

Anderson pic and brief bio…

Cal Anderson Park…David and his partner Michael Serkin-Poole were plaintiffs in Anderson v. Sims, the 2004 challenge to Washington state’s DOMA law.


Clutching a stuffed animal, a young disabled man waited patiently Tuesday as his two dads listened to their lawyer argue that same-sex couples have a right to marry. A couple for 23 years, David and Michael Serkin-Poole of Bellevue care for 19-year-old Jason and another disabled adult daughter and son. In the absence of marriage, they have spent thousands of dollars on legal arrangements, including joint adoptions, to safeguard their family. “We believe being denied a marriage license is in violation of our constitutional rights in Washington state,” David Serkin-Poole said after the hearing. “We feel it’s extremely important to be legally bound for the sake of our kids.”

bill timeline

HB 1515

Feb 1 Public hearing in the House Committee on State Government Operations & Accountability at 10:00 AM.

Mar 22 Public hearing in the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Housing & Consumer Protection at 3:30 PM.

Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer