UPDATE, JULY 9, 9:03 A.M.: Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter is doubling down on his divisive public comments about same-sex marriage and the perceived theft of rainbows from God, making himself out to be the victim of having his First Amendment free speech rights infringed.
His only concession is agreeing to stop using the city's seal in correspondence with constituents: "I agree with the mayor that I need to put something else there other than the city seal because people are getting confused. They seem to think it's from the city, and in order to avoid confusion I'll replace it," Peotter told City News Service.
The Newport Beach mayor he is referring to, Ed Selich, emailed CNS to say, "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 LGBT Center OC, which champions the equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, posted a statement on its blog suggesting Peotter's views show they are "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."
The Center's executive director, Kevin S. O'Grady, had slammed Peotter for spreading hate speech after the councilman's newsletter was distributed. Despite Peotter's follow-up free speech defense, O'Grady doubles down himself in a thoughtful column for the Voice of OC.
"Peotter implicitly called for the destruction of the LGBT community: That is vile hate speech and he should be condemned by every decent person in the county," O'Grady writes. "Only then will we begin to move beyond hate."
Orange County gay activists have for years been dealing with Peotter, who somehow has a knack for being behind the times when it comes to human rights for all. He was part of the Irvine Values Coalition that in 1989 got a referendum passed narrowly that removed "sexual orientation" from the city's human rights ordinance.
Peotter said at the time that the sexual orientation clause gave gays "special rights" in everything from renting to employment. (It's worth noting that he was joined by current Irvine Councilwoman Christina Shea, who opined businesspeople like her "were concerned" that the clause would lead to employment "quotas for homosexuals" when they believed jobs should be based on performance.)
Fast forward to 2015, and Peotter is showing he's still out of step. Andrew Bradford, writing on Alan Colmes' Liberaland site, dubbed the councilman "Moron of the Day" and then had to ask: "Question: Is it ever going to end? Are the self-righteous jerkweeds who cannot adjust to the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage ever going to get a grip and just move on with their lives? Is that asking for too much?"
Check back in 26 years, Andrew. In the meantime, Peotter's City Council colleague Keith Curry may have summed it up best in an email to the Orange County Register: "Mr. Peotter has become yet again, an embarrassment to the city and our community."
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 8, 6:07 A.M.: Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter is catching shit for sending out a newsletter that blasts the White House for being lit up with rainbow lighting to mark the historic same-sex marriage decision by the U.S. Supreme Court as well as "the homosexual movement" for adopting "God's symbol," the rainbow.
"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," reads Peotter's newsletter, which features a photo of the White House illuminated with the colors of a rainbow to mark the June 26 ruling. "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."
He 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 …'"
Pat Robertson must be turning over in his grave. Turning over in his office is Kevin O'Grady, 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."
That drew another salvo from Peotter, who emailed City News Service to say: "It is a shame that someone 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 Kevin O'Gradys of the world will make sure that there is no legitimate opposition to the 'approved, politically correct position.'"
For its part, the City of Newport Beach is distancing itself from Peotter and the shitstorm he whipped up, issuing a statement that says, "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."
Translation: Keep buying crap at Fashion Island, queers!