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  • Writer's pictureKayla M Grant

Rainbow regrets: Woolwich mayor apologizes again over comments from fellow councillor (update)

This story is reposted from CityNewsKitchener and can be read in full here.

Rainbows, religion, and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

The mayor of Woolwich is apologizing again for failing to act sooner to stop a more than minute-long rant from a fellow colleague during a council meeting which included a discussion about a proposed rainbow crosswalk in Elmira.

The comments came from Coun. Murray Martin who was allowed to speak at length about his view that rainbow crosswalks "trash" a covenant with God by promoting a lifestyle that is "not correct."

"I knew immediately after the meeting that I needed to apologize," said Woolwich Mayor Sandy Shantz. "The comments, I caused hurt for people in the community and I regretted not stopping them sooner."

"And I am very sincere in that apology," Shantz added. "I can't even count the number of people I know and care for who would be part of that community and I did not intend for the meeting to be hurtful to anyone."

Shantz went on to say she may have gotten caught up in trying to figure out where Martin's comments were going instead of stopping them sooner to caution him on their direction.

That said, the mayor also maintained comments from one councillor should not be used to paint the community as a whole, adding the Township of Woolwich is no less welcoming today than it was prior to Monday's meeting.

"Would I have liked for us to be in unanimous agreement [about a rainbow crosswalk], yes, I would have very much liked for us to be in unanimous agreement [but] that just doesn't always happen," she said, adding while she may have failed at the time to talk the talk, council as a whole is still looking to walk the walk by trying to find a suitable location in Elmira for a rainbow crosswalk.

As for Coun. Martin, Shantz said she did pull him aside after the meeting on Monday and has also spoken with him since about potentially offering an apology of his own.

"We talked and he talked about where he was coming from and I told him that the way he expressed his opinion was not appropriate in a number of ways," she said. "We also talked about the impact of his words and what he said and how hurtful they were."

"I spoke to him again yesterday and talked to him again about that and encouraged him to address that formally and hope that he does that."

Martin is able to do that at any time though there are also a couple of opportunities coming up to do it in a more official way, including at either a Committee of the Whole meeting on September 12 or at a regularly scheduled council meeting the week after.

Also asked whether Martin should face any further repercussions, Shantz said we are now in the midst of a municipal election and that decision will ultimately be made by the voters in October.

A candidate running in Martin's riding of Ward 3 also responded to his comments on Wednesday.

Kayla Grant said as a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, she was "incredibly disheartened" to see a local representative dismiss and belittle members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, adding she is saddened by the harm those statements have caused.

"In his comments Monday night, Coun. Martin called same-sex relationships a 'lifestyle,' said that being a part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ was 'not correct,' and said that using the rainbow as a symbol of diversity, inclusiveness, and a fight for the rights of everyone was 'trashing' it." Grant said.

"These views are abhorrent at any time, but especially so in a day and age when we know showing inclusiveness and respect for all people is imperative for good mental health and creating safe spaces in our community." she added.

You can read Grant's full statement below:

Later in the afternoon Wednesday, councillor Murray Martin also issued an apology. His full statement can be found below:

"I understand that the comments that I made at Council on Monday evening were not only harmful to members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community but to Woolwich Township residents as well. I can clearly see that the statements I made were wrong and it was never my intention to cause harm... Read more on the CityNews Website.

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