An emailed newsletter from Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter that includes his opinion on the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, has created a backlash of controversy.
Peotter’s newsletter, sent last Monday, had at the top an image of the Newport Beach City Seal, his name, and the words City Council.
Underneath that header was an image of the White House with rainbow lighting on it and men embracing in front.
The newsletter read, “I know, The Supreme Court (that would be 5 out of 9 guys in black robes) decided 10 days ago to overturn 5,000 years of Judeo – Christian tradition, by redefining and allowing gay marriage. All of a sudden, a lot of the “important stuff” of the city didn’t seem so important. I like how the White House is really quick on the “important” stuff like this rainbow lighting. I do find it interesting that the homosexual movement adopted the rainbow as their symbol, as it was God’s symbol that he wouldn’t destroy the world by flood again….Maybe they are ‘wishful thinking…’”
That prompted an email response from Kevin O’Grady, the executive director of the LGBT Center OC.
“The homophobic message below appears on the site of a Newport Beach City Council member, Scott Peotter,” O’Grady wrote to supporters. “Not only is it disturbing that an elected city official would give voice to such homophobic beliefs, but that his statement appears under the seal of the City of Newport Beach is even more disturbing. I urge you to call Scott Peotter’s office and voice your disgust and/or call the office of the city manager and express your concern.”
Peotter – a former NB Indy Forum columnist who stepped down when he campaigned for public office last year – emailed City News Service with a response, and provided this revised response to the NB Indy: “It is a shame that OC LGBT Center spokesman Kevin O’Grady, who likes to position himself as a fighter of hate, name calling, and tolerance resorts to hate, name calling, and intolerance when someone legitimately disagrees with a political position that isn’t in line with his. It reminds me of Red State’s Erick Erickson’s statement ‘You will be made to care.’ Which is a great statement where the leftist, Kevin O’Gradys of the world, will make sure that there is no legitimate opposition to the ‘approved, politically correct position.’”
O’Grady then sent out a press release that stated: “A recent communication containing the seal of the City of Newport Beach was sent by Councilman Scott Peotter to constituents to voice his personal disgust with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality. The response of Executive Director of the LGBT Center OC, Kevin O’Grady, was to shine a light on the intolerant nature of Councilman Peotter’s remarks as disgraceful for the City of Newport Beach, its constituents, and particularly the thriving LGBT community there. The City of Newport Beach issued a statement distancing themselves from Mr. Peotter’s remarks, but fell short of condemning them.
The LGBT Center OC exists to champion the equal rights of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgendered individuals, still viewed as ‘less than’ by many in Orange County. We are a strong proponent of the freedom of speech and encourage everyone to exercise this right. We simply are fulfilling our mission by shining a light on Mr. Peotter’s comments. If this is the type of vitriol he wishes to espouse, that is his constitutional given right. As it is ours and our supporters – some of whom are his constituents – to voice and vote our reactions.”
Following this, Newport Beach Mayor Ed Selich contacted the various news media, including the Newport Beach Indy, and wrote in an email, “In my opinion, personally and as Mayor, Councilmember Peotter’s comments are inappropriate as a City Council Member and are not reflective of City policy. Councilmember Peotter is entitled to his opinions but he should choose a platform where his personal opinions cannot be confused with or misconstrued to be City policy. On Wednesday morning I asked Mr. Peotter to remove the City Seal from his emails, web site and collateral material so that the public does not confuse his personal views with city policy. I explained to him that people are confusing his personal opinions with city policy and he readily agreed to remove the City Seal.”
Newport Beach City Councilman Keith Curry sent an email that read, “In light of yet another example of councilman Scott Peotter violating Section 1.16.050 of the Newport Beach Municipal Code by misusing the city seal for his own political purposes, I will propose on Tuesday July 14 that the city attorney bring back to council a revised municipal code provision that clearly and unambiguously prohibits the use of the city seal, in any form, for personal political pronouncements, campaign fundraising, personal attacks and the expression of personal opinions that have not been previously authorized by the city council or staff.”
Curry added that “Mr. Peotter has become yet again, an embarrassment to the city and our community.”
Councilman Peotter was contacted by the NB Indy to see if he had any further comments on the issue, and he offered this thought: “It is ironic that the Supreme Court ‘found’ an unwritten constitutional right to homosexual marriage and now I have to give up my clearly written constitutional first amendment rights to free speech and freedom of religion. Those that preach tolerance appear to be very intolerant of those with different views. I certainly do not give up my rights to free speech because of my being elected to City Council. In fact, I believe that one of the reasons that I was elected was because I stand for things and do not put my finger in the wind before deciding where I stand on issues. Even people that disagree with me on certain issues, respect this about me, supported me and voted for me.”
This week’s Forum page in the NB Indy has additional letters to the editor on this topic, including an Op/Ed from O’Grady.
SIDEBAR: Comments on Councilman Peotter’s Facebook page.
Numerous comments about Peotter’s newsletter have been left on his Facebook page, both pro and con. Samples (as of July 10):
“Anti gay in California? Wow….how did you get elected, don’t see a future for you here anymore……take your hate and ignorance to another state please.”
“How are people supposed to take him seriously after this?”
“Saw you in the LA Times, good for you! Sign me up. I have one word for you today COURAGE! Rock on my friend!”
“Mr. Peotter, you are a disgrace to Newport Beach. Keep your homophobic thoughts to yourself. Do not spew your hatred in the name of my fine city.”
“The Rainbow Flag is not a LGBT flag…IT is a flag for ALL people. It represents equality for all people in this rainbow melting pot nation.”
“Thank you Councilman for sticking up for your beliefs on the Supreme Court Decision. We need more people like you in office. Your a hero.”
“You might want to look around your little kingdom, Scott. Your delusional antigay rant means your political career is over. You live in true blue California, and homophobes are pariahs.”
“You are a disgrace to Newport Beach. How dare you use my tax dollars and the seal of my city to spread a message of hate to the city’s LGBTQIA and allies? Shame on you. I NEVER want my children around you. And I never want you to visit our elementary school.”
“Scott, I am inspired for the first time. You are doing an amazing job and your faith is contagious.”