Community weighs options for Nowakowski after controversial LGBTQ comments

District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski faced community judgment in a tele-town hall Thursday where Phoenicians requested his recall due to anti-LGBTQ comments. (Courtney Pedroza/DD)

During a tele-town hall on Thursday, community members voiced disapproval of Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski’s controversial comments about the LGBTQ community.

J.P. Martin, a board member of Equality Arizona, hosted the town hall in response to the District 7 councilman saying that he “never thought (he) would see the day that men and men would be married or where people were allowed to go into the same bathroom as (his) daughter.” Nowakowski made those comments while speaking to Christian pastors last month about the public prayer controversy that has dogged City Council for the past month.

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Brendan Mahoney, chair of the city’s Human Relations Commission and attorney who co-wrote Phoenix’s LGBTQ anti-discrimination law, moderated the town hall and called the comments deeply offensive and contradictory.

“These remarks were not only ill-informed and offensive that stand in direct contradiction to his statements he has made in the past in support of LGBT equality,” Mahoney said.

Multiple members of the community called in to voice their disapproval of Nowakowski’s comments. An audience member who went by the name Erika said she distrusted politicians in general.

“Councilman Nowakowski — he is a politician,” Erika said. “Am I surprised that he is trying to play both sides of an issue for political gain? No, I’m not surprised at all.”

Erika said that Nowakowski could be used as a tool to expose the discrimination against the LGBTQ community. She said that this is an opportunity to continue to emphasize the issue to the media if he doesn’t resign after his comments.

Nathan Treanor, member on the board of Equality Arizona, agreed, saying that he believed the LGBTQ community must control the conversation and move it more into the public light.

“While I was happy with the mayor’s statement, I think that it is important that we require those types of condemnations from other elected officials,” Treanor said, referring to a statement put out by Mayor Greg Stanton that condemned the comments. “Not only elected officials, but also allied organizations and communities as well.”

In a poll of the town hall’s participants, 64 percent were in favor of recalling Nowakowski.

The general consensus in the town hall was to either make an example out of Nowakowski for other politicians to show them that such remarks would not be condoned or to enforce that Nowakowski needed to be recalled and lose his seat.

Nowakowski was unavailable for comment.

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