FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler is coming under fire from his own party for having a controversial guest at his upcoming annual prayer breakfast.
At this week's Fort Lauderdale city commission meeting, Seiler took issue with LGBT activist Michael Rajner.
Seiler was rankled when Rajner brought up the fact that the head of the group, Focus on the Family, Jim Daly, was the keynote speaker for the mayor's upcoming Prayer Breakfast
"His character well exceeds the character of a man you're standing up to at the Prayer Breakfast, who has vilified the LGBT community," Rajner said during the commission meeting.
Rajner shared more of his thoughts on the matter with Local 10 News investigative reporter Bob Norman outside the commission meeting.
"It's the equivalent of taking the stage with David Duke," Rajner said. "It's sad that the mayor just won't admit to how harmful this is and how offensive it is to the gay community."
Focus on the Family has a history of anti-gay policies, including stances against gay marriage and adoption, and for controversial conversion therapy.
"It is so damaging," Rajner said. "They have literally talked about how we are a threat to society."
Rajner is far from alone. The Broward Democratic Party called the development "deeply disappointing and extremely troubling," saying fellow Democrat Seiler's "willingness to share the stage with this figure is a disappointing development which calls into question his belief in this value system."
Wilton Manors Commissioner Julie Carson, who is Broward County's first lesbian elected to office, said the invitation was unacceptable.
"If this had been Jack Seiler's private prayer breakfast, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation, but this is the mayor's Prayer Breakfast, and creating hate and ideas that cripple so many people is just not good for us," Carson said.
Seiler defended the Prayer Breakfast, saying he didn't choose Daly's involvement and that it would be rude and disrespectful for him to cancel his speech.
"Over the years, this Prayer Breakfast has brought our community together, united individuals of different backgrounds, unified houses of worship of different faiths, and had an incredibly positive impact on our city," Seiler said in a statement. "It would be incredibly rude, arrogant and disrespectful to over a thousand Prayer Breakfast attendees to cancel my speech because of rumors and speculation about what another speaker may or may not say next Friday morning."
Seiler also pointed out that he didn't choose Daly to speak, and that the decision was made by a host committee.
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