Scott Peotter, a city councilman in Newport Beach, California, caused an uproar when he sent an email to constituents that was critical of the recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. In response, Keith Curry, another member of the council, advocated censure and referral to the District Attorney for possible prosecution, the Desert Review reported Thursday.
“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’s email said. “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, noting that the rainbow was originally given to Noah as a sign after the great flood in Genesis.
At issue was the use of the official city seal in the email. According to WND’s Bob Unruh, the mayor said he instructed Peotter not to use the image. Rules regarding the use of the seal, however, appear to be vague, Unruh added.
The email also included an image of the White House bathed in rainbow colors. An emergency meeting of the council was called to address the issue of censure.
Matthew B. McReynolds, senior staff attorney for the Pacific Justice Institute, warned the council not to go too far. In a letter, he said the city should “abandon this ill-conceived, unconstitutional endeavor to chill and censor the speech of an elected official.”
“It is difficult to imagine anything more at odds with the Constitution’s guarantee of robust political and social debate, uninhibited by government condemnation or censorship,” he told the city. He also cited concerns expressed by dissenting members of the Supreme Court.
“We are alarmed that the prophetic warnings of the dissenting justices in Obergefell about efforts to silence traditional marriage views are threatening to become a reality so quickly in Orange County. Justice Alito warned that the decision ‘will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,'” he wrote. “Further, we were warned that the majority’s reasoning ‘will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.’”
McReynolds told the council the resolution they prepared “unconstitutionally restrains Councilman Peotter’s speech and would be vulnerable in court. The federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction in California and throughout the West Coast, has in two major cases sided with local elected officials who opined on hot-button social issues in ways that offended others.” Peotter, he added, “clearly speaks for himself.”
Ultimately, the council voted 4-3 in favor of a statement that they “disassociate” themselves from the email, essentially defeating Curry’s resolution. The vote did not sit too well with LGBT activists who claimed the email constitutes hate speech and created a hostile work environment.
“It is alarming that some politicians and activists now believe that expressing support for traditional marriage should be prosecuted,” said Brad Dacus, president of PJI. “This situation should be a wake-up call to all Americans. We face an ominous future of further repression, coercion and censorship unless we speak and act now in defense of our constitutional freedoms.”