The annual Fort Lauderdale Mayor's prayer breakfast wrapped up this morning with mixed reaction – as a group of advocates for gay rights came out to rally in favor in support of the LGBTQ community.
The controversy started during the 55th annual breakfast at the Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center. The private event featured a keynote speech from Jim Daly from Focus on the Family - a Christian conservative ministry that condones gay conversion therapy and is opposed to marriage equality and transgender rights
The breakfast coordinators, Church United, said the mayor has always been an invited guest
“As all this debate swirled around, I thought my god more than ever we need a prayer breakfast,” Seiler said. “We need to come together as a city and just sit and chat and listen and learn from one another.”
Protesters were upset that the city was paying for the event headlining a religious figure.
“It's our mayor, it's our tax payers dollars going to welcome this hate and that's where we have a problem with that,” said LGBTQ supporter Michael Gagne. “We elected him (Seiler) to represent us in the gay and lesbian community.”
The night before the prayer breakfast, City Commissioner Dean Trantalis - who is openly gay - announced that he would not attend the 55th annual event because of Daly leading the group, which openly believes in gay conversion therapy and opposes marriage equality and transgender rights.
"I would not want any hint of perception that I was condoning the work of Focus on the Family or helping provide Mr. Daly a platform. It is truly unfortunate that Mr. Daly was invited to be the keynote speaker when the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast should be a place for bringing all segments of Fort Lauderdale together in a spirit of peace and harmony", said Trantalis.
Ft. Lauderdale Police and Broward Sheriff’s officials were on scene throughout the demonstration and inside the convention center.