The LGBT community is denouncing support for Councilman Michael Nowakowski after he made comments against gay marriage and other LGBT issues in a widely shared video.
The March 8 YouTube video showed the District 7 representative making comments against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in a weekly meeting with a group of pastors at City Hall.
“I never thought I would see the day that men and men would be married,” Nowakowski said in the video. ”Or where people were allowed to go into the same bathroom as my daughter. This world is changing, and it’s time for us to take the leadership and change it back to the way it should be.”
Nowakowski is under fire for his comments partly because of the previous support he showed to the LGBT community, like participating in the Phoenix Pride Parade last year. Now, LGBT groups like Equality Arizona are denouncing their support for Nowakowski.
“Equality Arizona has supported the councilman in the past,” said Rebecca Wininger, the policy committee co-chair at Equality Arizona. “However, these statements behind closed doors give us great pause and regret for that support. We are very disappointed and hurt by the councilman’s remarks.”
LGBT groups around Phoenix are calling for Nowakowski’s resignation, saying that he is not adequately representing the diverse Phoenix community.
“We expect all our councilmen and councilwomen to represent the diversity of their constituencies,” Wininger said. “We expect them to be truthful in how they feel towards specific minority communities. We expect words and actions in public and in private to be consistent and authentic.”
Local organizations like Phoenix Pride are also calling for the resignation of Nowakowski alongside Equality Arizona. The Phoenix Pride Program Administrator and representative Danny Silvani said that it saddens him to think this issue is still so prominent in 2016.
“These hateful, bigoted comments don’t represent our community or our city,” the Phoenix Pride Facebook page stated. “He has been at our Community Center and events making statements of acceptance and support. This is a true question of integrity as he publicly shows support of our community and privately states that he believes our rights should be taken away.”
A group of pastor’s spoke on Nowakowski’s behalf, saying that he was speaking as a Latino Catholic, and therefore upholding his personal beliefs.
Jose Gonzalez who leads Arizona Christian Link, a group of Latino pastors, told azcentral that “He [Nowakowski] gave his opinion as a Catholic believer.”
Nowakowski held a press conference in which he apologized for his comments, saying that he was caught up in emotions while talking to a group of pastors. The meeting focused on the city council’s vote to replace the traditional invocation with a moment of silence.
Despite the councilman’s apology, District 7 voters like Nicholas Elsey, 20, are disappointed by their representative. Elsey identifies as gay and wants a representative who can stand up for his views.
“It’s a misrepresentation of what the whole LGBT community is about,” Elsey said. “We [the LGBT community] want someone who understands we just all want to be equal. I take my rights into consideration when I’m voting . . . and I’m not voting for them [anti-LGBT candidates].”