Phoenix councilman under fire for anti-LGBT comments

FOX 10's Marc Martinez reports.

- A Phoenix city councilman is coming under fire for appearing to flip-flop on his support for the LGBT community.

In a video that was posted online to YouTube, Michael Nowakowski talks about objecting to same-sex marriage and the restrooms transgender people use.

The video that began circulating on March 8 was recorded last month as Nowakowski spoke to a group of Christian pastors regarding the issue of public prayer at council meetings, but then he made comments that have stunned his supporters:

"I never thought I'd see the day that men and men would be married."

"Or where people would be able to go into the same bathroom as my daughter."

"This world is changing. It's time for us to take the leadership and change it back to the way it should be."

Rebecca Wininger is co-chair of public policy for Equality Arizona. The group supported Nowakowski in his 2011 race, citing his public support for LGBT rights.

"Very surprised that what he says in public is not what he says behind closed doors. And we need to find out why there's such a discrepancy there," she said.

Councilman Michael Nowakowski’s Statement on Recorded Comments to Religious Leaders:
 
“I apologize that my comments, regardless of the context, offended anyone. I wish to clarify my stance and explain as best I can.
 
As a practicing Catholic, it is often hard to personally reconcile such issues on a religious perspective. That said, I know that I represent a diverse district that includes members of the LGBTQ community.  My record shows that I have voted to protect our diverse community, giving an equal voice in government to all. My future voting record will continue to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community, regardless of any church teachings or proclamations.
 
No government official should force or impose any religious doctrine on others in the public square. I believe in respect for personal civil liberties and protecting all people from discrimination in public and the workplace. That hasn’t changed.
 
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. 
 
I know that this statement doesn’t undo my comments to religious leaders. I simply hope that the residents in my district watch and remember my voting record. I will continue to vote for equal treatment for all within our City, and I will continue to treat all people with the respect they deserve.”

Statement from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton:

"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."

Statement from City Councilwoman Laura Pastor:

“I’m dismayed and disappointed by the comments made by my colleague Councilman Michael Nowakowski. As the representative of the largest population of the LGBTQ community in our City, I feel compelled to speak out against this kind of derogatory rhetoric. It doesn’t represent our values. Phoenix must remain open and welcoming to all our residents.”​

Statement from Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo:

"As a gay elected official, I am appalled by Councilman Michael Nowakowski’s comments about gay marriage and transgender members of our community. He has gone on the record supporting same-sex marriage, yet turns around and denounces this important issue of equality when speaking to a group of pastors. I hope he will clarify his position and choose the side of inclusion. While I am a gay, Latino man, I don’t represent just members of the gay community or Latino community. I represent everyone in my district and I challenge Mr. Nowakowski to do the same."

Statement from Angela Hughey, President and CEO of ONE Community:

"Councilman Nowakowski’s recent derogatory comments about LGBT people are disappointing, wrong, and uniformed. These types of statements have no place in 2016. We must continue to invest in educating our community about why inclusion and equality benefit us all. We hope city leaders will join us in condemning Councilman Nowakowski’s statements."


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