Some protesters are demanding an apology after Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he was looking to evict a pastor who rents space at a school.
Members of several organizations gathered Friday morning, claiming they are worried the superintendent is about to limit free speech if he keeps Pastor Jack Hakimian from preaching at North Miami Senior High School, where he rents space on Sundays to speak to about 100 followers.
During a recent sermon, Hakimian comparefd homosexuality to drug abuse and witchcraft. He calls it free speech and the word of God.
He has a sermon titled "Gays and Sex Addicts Can Change and Should Change."
The school district quickly reacted. In a statement to Local 10, Carvalho said the pastor's teachings "appear to be contrary to School Board policy, as well as the basic principles of humanity, and I have asked for immediate legal review to seek the termination of the contract that is involved. I am making this decision not on the basis of policy or politics but as a rejection of prejudice and intolerance."
"I don't think homosexuality is any more of a greater sin than fornication, drug abuse, witchcraft," he said during his sermon.
Those gathered Friday said Carvalho was bullying the pastor with a threat to evict.
"We are demanding Mr. Carvalho apologize," said Eladio Jose-Armesto, of the Florida Democratic League. "Mr. Carvalho, show that you are sorry for the hate, the intolerance and injury your bullying inflicted on all of us."
"Superintendent Carvalho's statements were troubling and appalling to us," said Anthony Verdugo, of the Christian Family Coalition. "Whether you agree with it or not, and we are not and we are not asking you to agree with it -- but we are asking you to respect it."
There are no apologies from Carvalho, however.
"We stand firmly in support of First Amendment rights of all of our citizens," he said. "It demeans certain representative sectors of our community, and I don't think that is appropriate in a school."
The Miami-Dade school district generates $3 million renting school space to organizations, and among them are 90 religious groups.