Update: Hakimian told The Miami Herald that he is not anti-gay and only preaches what’s in the Bible.
“I just thank the council for providing equal access for people with different religious and social views that are controversial topics, but don’t imply any type of hate,” he said on Friday, April 12.
He added on his church's Facebook page: “This is a Jesus Christ event and not some frail, sinful pastor’s event like me.”
North Miami District 1 Commissioner Scott Galvin said he’s “offended and embarrassed” that his city voted to let anti-gay pastor Jack Hakimian (commonly known as Pastor Jack) use the MOCA Plaza, its sound system and its staff to run a prayer vigil on May 2, the National Day of Prayer.
“I pointed out to the Council that Pastor Jack has every right to preach what he wants and assemble in public to do so,” Galvin said. “But the taxpayers' dollars shouldn't be used to fund it.”
To see the city meeting’s segment about this vote, go here and fast forward to minute 54:36 (it goes on until 1:10:35).
The April 9 vote resulted 4-1 in favor of letting Hakimian (who told SFGN he’s not anti-gay, though he preaches homosexuality is a sin that can be undone) use the city’s facilities.
“The National Day of Prayer is something that’s happened since George Washington,” Hakimian told the city council during its April 9 meeting. “We recognize as citizens that God has placed you guys as stewards, but really the city belongs to the religious, the non-religious, the Jew, the gentile, the atheist, the theist. The city belongs to us.”
Galvin told SFGN the city’s never done anything like this before. He was the one vote against.
“I pointed out his specific teachings. I think the council doesn’t understand LGBT rights,” he said. “None of them even blinked when it was made clear that Pastor Jack was anti-gay. I think they’re on the wrong side of history and are tone-deaf to the issues.”
Including use of the Museum of Contemporary Art Plaza, the Showmobile, a sound system, and staffers to man all of it, Galvin said this would cost the city around $5,000. In theory, the city could reverse its decision to let Hakimian use the city facilities during its April 23 meeting, but Galvin doesn’t think anything will change.
“It wasn’t like this was a close vote or there was wavering on the issue. I got a standing ovation from the audience (for my speech). But despite what could have been an emotional moment when they could get swayed, they just went ahead and voted.”
Mayor Andre Pierre said during the meeting that this vote had less to do with Hakimian than it did with the city itself, and God.
“It is Constitutional,” Pierre said, citing various challenges to the Day of Prayer through the years. “I know there may be an issue with the person who spoke, Pastor Jack, but this is not about Pastor Jack.”
Pastor Jack was in the news in 2012 when local PBS-subsidiary.
“Pastor Jack has the right to preach whatever messages he wishes to. Pastor Jack has the right under our Constitution to assemble,” Galvin said during the meeting. “The taxpayers should not have to pay for it.”
Directing his speech at Hakimmian, Galvin continued: “Your teaching are anti-gay. As an openly gay man, I’m offended that this item is before us this evening in the manner that it is … Pastor Jack has preached sermons with titles like ‘Bible says Gays and Sex Addicts Can and Should Change.”
Galvin also mentioned Hakimian’s allegation that the “Gay Mafia” was out to get him.
“Sir, I didn’t choose to be who I am, I was born the way I am.” Galvin told Hakimian as the audience at the meeting started applauding him. “For you to call me and my friends ‘evil’ and ‘degenerate’ — that’s your Constitutional right, you can do that and I would fight for the death for your right to say it, but I’ll be darned if the taxpayers should have to pay for you to have a format to say it.”
Galvin proceeded to question which side of history the council wanted to be on, and asked the council to deny the request, after which another round of applause began.
Vice Mayor Marie Steril said that Hakimian’s beliefs have nothing to do with the vote to let him use the city facilities for the Day of Prayer.
“Enough preaching for tonight,” she said. “Let’s keep politics and religion out of it.”
After the motion passed, Hakimian forced his way to the microphone and told Galvin that he’s praying for him.
Check out SFGN’s full interview with Hakimian from July 2012 here. Gideon Grudo