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social sciences

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Murray, Edward B. ("Ed")  (b. 1955)  
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After a long career in the legislature of the state of Washington, where he compiled an outstanding record of accomplishment and rose to become Majority Leader of the state Senate, Ed Murray was elected mayor of Seattle. From the very beginning of his political career, he has been out and proud and known for his dogged commitment to glbtq rights.

Murray comes from a family of loggers; his grandfather, father, and several uncles worked in the lumber industry, long a mainstay of the economy in Washington. Murray was born in Aberdeen, a city in the western part of the state, on May 2, 1955.

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Murray's father suffered a broken back while on the job, causing the family to endure hard times, including what Murray described to Angela Galloway of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as a "humiliating" several months on welfare. Murray's mother had to become the breadwinner for her large family. Murray is the middle of seven children, with three older sisters and two younger sisters and a brother.

The Murray family is proudly Irish and devoutly Roman Catholic, and so Murray's earliest political memory is of being allowed, at the age of five, to stay up late on the night of the election of 1960 to witness the victory of John F. Kennedy.

"I can't say I really understood what was going on. It just got me excited," he told Galloway.

The Murrays had moved to Olympia, to west Seattle, and then to Lacey in the next county south, where Murray's fellow members of the class of 1974 at Timberlake High School elected him president.

Murray did not immediately go to college. After his mother's death the next autumn, the young man took on various jobs, including one as a volunteer in Ireland in a program to promote connections and understanding between Catholic and Protestant children.

Feeling a possible vocation to the priesthood, Murray enrolled at a Roman Catholic seminary but left after a year because, as he explained to Galloway, "There were many people--gay and straight--in the priesthood who were hypocrites as far as their sexuality." It bothered him that priests were placed on a "pedestal" and that their hypocrisy was never discussed.

Murray transferred to the University of Portland, a Catholic institution, from which he earned a degree in sociology.

Although Murray had realized that he did not have a calling to be a priest, while he was a university student he spent one weekend a month at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey, adhering to the community's structured life of prayer and contemplation.

"Through silence, solitude, prayer, and meditation, you learn things about yourself--not always easy things about yourself--that help you become a more authentic person," he told Julie Gunter of the National Catholic Reporter in 2012.

Part of the authentic person that he was, however, was a gay man, defined as "intrinsically disordered" by his Church. The anger and hurt that he felt caused him to avoid active participation in the Church for a time, but he did not break his ties entirely and eventually returned. On a retreat at the abbey in the late 1990s he read The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris, a Protestant poet who had spent time living in monasteries.

"It was as if a glass wall shattered in front of me. I realized: This is me. This is my tradition," he declared to Gunter, but he added that he felt that he would "always have one foot in and one foot out."

Meanwhile, Murray had come out as a gay man and found a mentor in Cal Anderson, the first openly gay man to serve in the Washington legislature. Murray, who was politically engaged but who feared that his homosexuality would be a barrier to election, recalled to Josh Feit of Seattle Met, "When Cal Anderson ran, it was like, 'Wow, someone like me can really do that.'"

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Edward Murray (right) with husband Michael Shiosaki.
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