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Littleton town official who spurred backlash with anti-LGBTQ+ comments declines to run for reelection

A LGBTQ flag hangs off a store front on Littleton's main street
Casey McDermot
/
NHPR
Carrie Gendreau's comments drew large crowds of critics to selectboard meetings, many of whom said the rhetoric jeopardized the work people put into building Littleton’s thriving, inclusive cultural scene.

A Littleton select board member whose anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric sparked intense public backlash will not be seeking re-election this year.

The town clerk’s office confirmed that Carrie Gendreau did not file for reelection by the Feb. 2 deadline. Gendreau did not respond to a request for comment. In addition to serving on the select board, she is also a Republican state senator.

Last year, Gendreau suggested that Littleton should consider regulations on public art after she raised concerns about three murals painted on a private building. The art was commissioned by a nonprofit, North Country Pride, that supports LGBTQ+ people in the area.

Gendreau also criticized a local theater group’s production of La Cage Aux Folles, which centers on a gay couple. In an interview with the Boston Globe, she said “homosexuality is an abomination” — and later doubled down on that position when contacted by NHPR.

“They can live their life any way they want to,” Gendreau said. “I am expressing how I'm not telling them how to live. I am just expressing what God says in His words.”

Her comments drew large crowds of critics to selectboard meetings, many of whom said the rhetoric jeopardized the work people put into building Littleton’s thriving, inclusive cultural scene. Over a thousand people, including prominent local business owners, signed a letter urging the selectboard to apologize to those hurt by the anti-LGBTQ+ comments and to back off any potential restrictions on public art. They said not doing so would hurt businesses, commerce and the people in the area.

The ensuing controversy also led to the resignation of Littleton’s town manager, Jim Gleason. He faced homophobic remarks about his son, who died in 2016 from cancer. Days after he announced plans to step down, he also received a letter with his photo and homophobic slurs. His last day was Feb. 2.

Littleton Police Chief Paul J. Smith is serving as the interim town manager until a replacement has been hired.

Olivia joins us from WLVR/Lehigh Valley Public Media, where she covered the Easton area in eastern Pennsylvania. She has also reported for WUWM in Milwaukee and WBEZ in Chicago.
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