While some are opposed to controversial anti-gay pastor Jack Hakimian participating at a National Prayer Day event paid for by North Miami Beach City Hall, he says he is the one being discriminated against for voicing his opinion. NBC 6's Claudia DoCampo reports.
Christian pastors from a non-profit group called "Mission Miami" spoke out Thursday about holding a National Prayer Day Event paid for by North Miami City Hall.
The May 2nd event has drawn controversy after the North Miami City Council voted in favor of waving fees associated with the event, headed by Pastor Jack Hakimian, whose sermons some consider to include anti-gay speech.
But Hakimian says he is the one being discriminated against for voicing his beliefs.
"Different viewpoints is not 'anti' and is not 'hate,'" he said. "It just means that we have a different sexual ethics, and as most of the population in the world believe in traditional marriage."
Hakimian said recently he believes that homosexuality hurts society.
“The practice of homosexuality has a slow, degenerative consequence, when it comes to morality, when it comes to the way that it begins to spread,” he said in an interview with South Florida Gay News.
Members of Equality Florida, a gay rights group, also spoke at Thursday's press conference.
"We're here because we want to call on the city commission to reverse its decision to subsidize this pastor," said Stratton Pollitzer, an Equality Florida member. pastor jack is known for terr hate speech toward the gay community, for demonizing our families."
The city's own openly gay councilmember, Scott Galvin, opposes footing the bill for the Prayer Day event.
Galvin estimates that it will cost the city $5,000 to pay for the National Prayer Day event.
The group of pastors said they are just like any other non-profit group that often get fees waived by local officials.
"We are here to pray for the city," Pastor David Vega said. "We're here to pray for the mayor, to pray for the councilmen. We're here to pray for everyone in this city. We believe in a city that can be transformed."