An Indiana city councilman has apologized for comments he made at a recent council meeting that some people saw as disparaging the LGBTQ community and the Black Lives Matter movement.
La Porte Councilman Roger Galloway made the comments during a meeting last week after Alex Masepohl, of the LGBTQ group “Out in La Porte,” gave a presentation asking for more resources to help LGBTQ youth in the city.
Following Masepohl’s presentation, Galloway said: “You talk…LGB…you talking gay people. Stuff like that? Do you know that is against the Bible? Anybody ever read the Bible?”
Masepohl responded, “I actually have, yes.”
But according to the South Bend Tribune, Galloway continued his rant, saying: “Let’s wake up and take care of everybody in our community. Our whole country.
“I don’t understand Black Lives Matter, I probably never will, but it’s for all of us, Okay? That’s my comment.”
Galloway’s comments were swiftly denounced by his fellow councilmembers and La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody.
“People can do what they need to do outside of here, but in here we represent the city of La Porte and we’re excited to do that, and we are welcoming for everybody here in La Porte,” Dermody said in a statement to local news station ABC57. “That’s not who we are and that’s not what La Porte is.”
Councilwoman Laura Cutler said she was “deeply concerned” about Galloway’s comments, and distanced herself and the rest of the council from them.
“As leaders of this community, it is our role to listen to citizens and be accepting and understanding of the diversity in our community no matter what our individual beliefs may be,” Cutler said in a statement.
“We have been elected to represent our city, not our own beliefs or biases. Councilman Galloway’s offensive, intolerant behavior is unacceptable and insulting.
“His behavior is the antithesis of all we are trying to accomplish as an inclusive community.”
Galloway later issued a formal apology.
“I apologize for my comments at the City Council meeting last night. La Porte is a welcoming community and my remarks did not reflect that,” he said in the statement. “My personal opinions and beliefs should never get in the way of my ability to represent our community as a whole. The LGBTQ representatives from the meeting have agreed to meet with me in the coming days. I am grateful for their willingness to have a conversation so I can learn more and develop a better understanding.”
Galloway later met with several members of “Out in La Porte,” including Masepohl, and apologized to them personally. The group noted that his comments were illustrative of the need for more education about LGBTQ issues, and demonstrated the need to strengthen nondiscrimination protections in the city’s civil rights ordinance, one of their chief goals.
“He seemed pretty receptive about being educated,” group member Elissa Wright told the Tribune.
Masepohl said the group has no ill feelings towards Galloway and were encouraged by their meeting with him.
“It’s just as valid as how we feel,’ she said. “No, we respect his opinion, definitely. We’ve really come together as a community to show that La Porte can be one of those very inclusive places that we all strive for.”
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