SAN JOSE -- San Jose officials Tuesday voted to send a message to their Russian sister city disapproving of a recent law in that country that critics call anti-gay.

The council voted 9-1 to approve the formal resolution that affirms San Jose's "valued relationship" with Ekaterinburg, a San Jose "sister city" since 1992, while condemning recent Russian Federation legislation imposing fines for "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations."

"I certainly felt that it's better for us to take a proactive action to, on the one hand, condemn the action and to further bolster our relationship with the city," said Councilman Ash Kalra, who proposed the action along with councilmen Xavier Campos and Pete Constant.

Kalra noted that many activists had called for cities like San Jose to sever ties with Russian sister cities over the law, but he said that "cutting off ties with our sister city does nothing to affect the Russian government."

Constant was absent on a family emergency. Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio was opposed, arguing while he supports gay rights he doesn't think San Jose should be engaging in foreign policy discussions.

Ekaterinburg, also known as Yekaterinburg, is a major city in central Russia with about 1.3 million residents known for machinery and metal processing.

The Sister Cities Program started in 1956 when President Eisenhower proposed a citizen diplomacy initiative to spread American goodwill abroad and foster mutual understanding and cooperation.

San Jose was an early participant, establishing its first relationship in 1957 with Okayama, Japan. A half dozen others followed: San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1961; Veracruz, Mexico, in 1975: Tainan, Taiwan, in 1977; Dublin, Ireland, in 1986; and Pune, India, and Ekaterinburg, Russia, both in 1992.

The relationships historically focused on cultural exchanges, helping to improve international diplomacy. Once the two cities ratify the relationship, they can be officially recognized by Sister Cities International, the Washington, D.C., nonprofit that manages the program.

Reed in 2007 sought to refocus San Jose's sister city ties with an emphasis on economic development.

Contact John Woolfolk at 408-975-9346. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/johnwoolfolk1.