Revere city councillors did not hesitate to support a motion cosponsored by Councillors-at-Large Steven Morabito and Marc Silvestri that the Revere City Council send a letter to the Saugus Board of Selectmen to express solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and to denounce the toxic and homophobic comments made by Saugus Board of Selectmen Chairman Anthony Cogliano on social media.
“I was appalled,” said Morabito, who spoke briefly about the discrimination, ridicule and intolerance he and other members of the gay community have experienced. Morabito condemned Cogliano’s hate speech, which occurred during an online conversation with a Lynn resident who criticized Cogliano’s role in a municipal trash contract.
“Adding to the insult, the selectman refused to apologize for his words,” said Morabito.
While it was personal for Morabito, it was also professional. “It is my belief, when you are an elected official, that the words spoken and written by an elected official should be chosen thoughtfully and to a high standard. Because, as an elected official, the people you represent chose you to be the voice and champion their issues,” said Morabito.
He went on to say that fellow councillors know the harassment he has endured while serving on the City Council. “Offensive behavior is unacceptable,” he added.
Councillor Silvestri agreed that elected officials are held to a higher standard. “Everyone can lose their head and say things that are offensive, but there’s a moment when you have to say, ‘I screwed up’ and apologize.”
When confronted, the selectman doubled down,” said Silvestri, adding that that’s when we have to speak out.
Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto said he supported Morabito, but he thought it was illegal to send a letter to Saugus. Zambuto said Cogliano’s constitutional right to free speech allowed him to say what he wanted, even if it was rude and offensive.
Despite Zambuto’s warning, the City Council voted to send a letter to the Saugus Selectmen.
After the vote, City Council President Patrick Keefe told Morabito he has watched as his courage has grown over time. “I stand behind you,” Keefe told Morabito.