Responding to pushback for criticizing same-sex marriage in a widely distributed email, Newport Beach Councilman Scott Peotter agreed Wednesday to remove the city seal from the electronic updates he regularly sends to constituents.
Mayor Ed Selich said he called Peotter Wednesday to ask that he remove the emblem from messages that feature his personal commentary on political issues.
Selich indicated he was unhappy that people might believe Peotter’s statements reflect the position of the entire council because the email featured the official city seal.
“I told him it’s causing problems because people are confusing his position with the city’s position,” Selich said. “He said, OK. He didn’t debate it with me or anything.”
Peotter said while his email was never intended to be an official city communication, he’s fine with removing the emblem.
“I think it’s been pretty clear that it’s a picture of the seal with the flags in front of it,” he said. “I guess people are confused.”
Peotter’s message took issue with the illumination of the White House in rainbow-colored hues after the June 26 Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay unions nationwide.
“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. "…maybe they are wishful thinking.”
Peotter said that while he’s not homophobic, he believes the high court should not have interfered with marriage laws. In an interview he stood by his email that favors traditional marriage.
City Hall, which has shown support for gay employees over the years, issued a statement distancing the municipality from Peotter’s views.
“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 statement reads.
Councilman Keith Curry said he plans to suggest to his colleagues during the July 14 council meeting that they clarify in the municipal code the appropriate uses for the city seal.
Curry said city rules should “clearly and unambiguously [prohibit] 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.”