A Phoenix City Councilman came under fire this week for apparently reversing his support for gay marriage while addressing a group of Latino pastors.
An almost two-minute video, uploaded to YouTube by a local activist Leonard Clark, shows Michael Nowakowski, who is known to support LGBTI rights, making homophobic remarks.
LGBTI rights groups and the LGBTI community of Phoenix have publicly called on the councilman to resign.
‘We now know that behind the scenes he’s been doing other things,’ said Brendan Mahoney, chair of the Phoenix Human Relations Commission. ‘There’s really no way of knowing what he has failed to support or killed behind people’s backs.’
Nowakowski has since apologized but said that he will not resign.
He can be heard telling a room of clergy in a private meeting:
‘I never thought I would see the day that men and men would be married. Or that people are 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.’
The ‘bathroom’ reference was an apparent allusion to a Phoenix ordinance allowing transgender people to use a washroom of their choice.
According to the Phoenix New Times, Nowakowski went silent for a while before apologizing in a short statement on Wedneday night.
‘I apologize that my comments, regardless of the context, offended anyone.
‘My reference in the video to “returning to the way it should be” was in regards to prayer at City Council meetings, not to roll back LGBTQ rights. I understand why my statement in the video was misconstrued, and I apologize.’
In October 2014, Nowakowski was quoted by the Arizona Republic as saying that he supports same-sex marriage shortly after the US Supreme Court upheld same-sex marriage.
‘Love is love. Who are we to say otherwise or judge on how individuals feel? Furthermore, why prevent individuals from enjoying the same privileges or freedoms others enjoy? … As long as someone is a good community partner, I do not see the harm in celebrating individual choices.’
Mayor Greg Stanton and a handful of other city leaders have condemned the video, explaining that the rhetoric espoused does not represent the city of Phoenix.
‘I am shocked that a councilmember who represents so many LGBT individuals in the heart of our city would hold such homophobic views. I condemn these ignorant comments in the strongest terms, and hope and pray the councilman will open his heart and begin to appreciate the diversity of the people he represents,’ Stanton said in a Facebook post.
The Councilman said on Thursday during a press conference that he would not resign, AZcentral.com reported. He further pointed to his record of voting for equality and supporting LGBT issues, and said he will continue to fight for all people’s rights.