Image via Wikimedia Commons

A Newport Beach councilman agreed Wednesday to stop using the city’s seal in correspondence with constituents, a day after a gay- lesbian-transgender advocacy group complained about comments he made about sex- sex marriage in a newsletter.

“I agree with the mayor that I need to put something else there other than the city seal because people are getting confused,” Councilman Scott Peotter told City News Service. “They seem to think it’s from the city, and in order to avoid confusion I’ll replace it.”

Mayor Ed Selich, in an email to City News Service, said: “In my opinion, personally and as mayor, Councilmember Peotter’s comments on the (Supreme Court gay marriage ruling) 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,” Selich wrote.

“This morning I asked Mr. Peotter to remove the city seal from his emails, website 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.”

The executive director of LGBT Center OC, who publicly criticized Peotter on Tuesday, fired further salvos today, characterizing the councilman’s remarks as “vitriolic” and “homophobic.”

Kevin O’Grady, meanwhile, lauded Santa Ana officials for “the pride flag flying for the first time at Santa Ana City Hall” and issuing a proclamation on behalf of his organization. O’Grady also called on Newport Beach city officials to condemn Peotter’s remarks.

On Tuesday, the city issued, in part, this statement:

“The communication sent by the council member was intended to reflect his personal thoughts related to the decision by the Supreme Court and not intended to reflect the position of the city of Newport Beach. The city welcomes and values its citizens, visitors and employees, irrespective of sexual orientation or marital status, and embraces Newport Beach’s place in a diverse and vibrant Southern California.’

The newsletter that drew the organization’s ire features a photo of the White House — taken when it was illuminated with the colors of a rainbow to mark the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Peotter wrote, “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.”

Peotter added, “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 …”‘

Peotter denied today that his remarks were homophobic.

“He (O’Grady) can’t point to anything I said that was vitriolic or homophobic other than I disagree with him on the Supreme Court’s decision,” Peotter said.

Peotter then took a swipe at President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying they failed to react quickly to calls for help when terrorists mounted an attack in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 but rapidly reacted to the high court’s ruling.

“I think it’s ironic that Barack Obama and … Hillary Clinton couldn’t get off their butts and save our ambassador and our Navy Seals even though they had days of advance notice, yet the very night of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the lights go up on the White House with rainbow colors.”

O’Grady responded by accusing Peotter of “trying to deflect the issue.”

He added, “Our response has nothing to do with what he thinks of the court’s decision. I don’t really care what he thinks. I would, however, fight for his First Amendment right to express any opinion he wishes. He didn’t stop there, he implied the LGBT community had appropriated a symbol to protect ourselves from God’s destructive power, presumably because God wants to destroy us.

“That’s hateful and bigoted and I condemned him. If he thinks he can make hateful statements and not be held accountable, he is very much mistaken. And he’s right, I don’t have any patience for his intolerance, but I honor his right to be intolerant.”

— City News Service 

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