Newport Beach councilman criticized for sending email blast over same-sex marriage

Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter was not happy after the Supreme Court on June 26 legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. And he really wasn’t happy after the White House was illuminated in rainbow-colored hues to celebrate the ruling.

In an email to constituents, Peotter went biblical.

"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," he wrote in the email, which was widely circulated Monday. "And maybe they are wishful thinking."

Peotter’s message angered gay rights leaders, who said it suggested the councilman not only believes that being gay is sinful but that those who marry could incur divine wrath.

"I'm sick and tired of politicians using the gay community to express their bigotry without there being any response to it," said Kevin O'Grady, executive director of the LGBT Center of Orange County. He called Peotter's statements "homophobic" and "disturbing."

Newport Beach Mayor Ed Selich said he disagreed with Peotter’s views. Newport Beach City Hall has shown support for gay employees. The highest-ranking administrative official, City Manager Dave Kiff, is both openly gay and married.

"From my standpoint, personally, and speaking as mayor, his comments are inappropriate for a council member and not reflective of city policy in any way," Selich said. "He should have chosen a platform where his opinions wouldn't be confused with the city's."

Peotter said he was simply referring to a passage in the Old Testament that explains how the rainbow was a gift from God to mankind as a symbol of the promise that he would not flood the world again.

"The homosexual movement is taking a symbol that was meant for something else and is corrupting it for their use," he said. "The people that are out there criticizing me for [the email] are leading the cry for no name-calling and tolerance, but they're intolerant of any view but their own."

He went on to explain that he found the use of the rainbow "ironic" for biblical reasons.

His email also featured an image of the Newport Beach city seal and a photo of gay couples celebrating in the nation's capital.

"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," Peotter wrote.

Peotter said that while he is not homophobic or against the LGBT community, he stands by the thoughts he presented in the email in favor of traditional marriage and his position that the high court should not have interfered with the laws.

"It's obviously a predominant issue in our society right now," he said. "I felt like I couldn't ignore it."

Peotter often sends email blasts with the city seal pictured on the top to inform the community about issues being discussed by the council. Monday's email also gave an update about the new artwork that will be installed in Civic Center Park and the debate over wood-burning fire rings.

O'Grady said that while the nation is becoming more tolerant, Orange County has some ground to make up.

"When I share some of the things we hear being said in Orange County, my counterpart in Los Angeles asks what country I'm living in," he said. "Orange County is a long way behind the rest of the country."

This isn't the first time that that Peotter has made his stance on homosexuality public. He once belonged to the Irvine Values Coalition, which in the late 1980s launched an effort to remove gays and lesbians from protections under Irvine's human rights ordinance.

The coalition also sought to prohibit Irvine's council from defining "sexual orientation as a fundamental human right," the Los Angeles Times reported at the time. 

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
81°