The invitation of Dr. Jerry Newcombe to speak at Fort Lauderdale’s Memorial Day ceremonies caused the Gold Coast Chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights to boycott the event.

“Newcombe has been an outspoken opponent of LGBT equality, including speaking against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans from serving in our military,” Lee Lawson wrote, president of the Gold Coast Chapter. Lawson said Newcombe’s invitation to give the invocation and closing prayer was an “affront” to all the LGBT veterans who had served in the military and sacrificed their lives. AVER chose to attend the city’s second Memorial Day ceremony.

Newcombe, minister of Truth In Action Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, formerly known as Coral Ridge Ministries, has a history of remarks that have been criticized by members of the LGBT community as well as Right Wing Watch, a progressive advocacy group that monitors the speech and actions of conservative politicians and leaders. Right Wing Watch has multiple videos produced by Truth In Action Ministries, which label homosexuality as a threat to society.

In a May 2012 article titled “Would Jesus Approve of Same Sex Marriage?” posted on his website, Newcombe wrote “Today people sometimes say that Jesus never condemned homosexuality. But He did when He condemned pornea (from which we get the word pornography). In Matthew 15:19, Jesus condemned a host of sins, one of which is pornea. This word is translated as “sexual immorality.” It would include all the sexual sins prohibited in the Old Testament, such as pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, incest, and bestiality.” 

In that same article, Newcombe wrote that same sex marriage is “simply another nail in the coffin of the American family, along with the spectacular failure of so many heterosexual marriages that fail to follow God’s commands to the husband and wife as set forth in the Bible.”

In a 2012 video about the “radical homosexual agenda,” Newcombe and others compared homosexuality to an iceberg that threatened to destroy the country. “The moral iceberg is ripping a hole in the structure of America and we’re taking on water. Can we repair the damage before it’s too late?” Newcombe said.

When giving the invocation at the Memorial Day ceremony, Newcombe said “political correctness” was a threat to America. In an interview with SFGN after the ceremony was over, when Newcombe was asked to elaborate, he said that he was talking about “radical Islam” and the failure of some to address the dangers of Muslims who commit terrorism. “A born-again Christian would not have done those things,” he said, referring to the May 22 bombing in Manchester, England.

Asked about his previous comments and the boycott by AVER, Newcombe said he doesn’t hate anybody and only wants to point people “to the light” of god. 

The controversy over Newcombe is similar to the one caused when Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler attended the annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on April 28. At that event, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, a conservative Christian who has also made statements offensive to the LGBT community, was a featured speaker.

“I wish they were here with us,” Seiler said about AVER. “We have so many things that divide us. Black, white. Gay, straight. Christian, Jew.” The mayor said he’s concerned that AVER feels unappreciated and unable to attend by the invitation of Newcombe. “These gay veterans are modern day American heroes.” 

Asked about the invitation of Newcombe, Seiler said he didn’t know anything about the pastor and that this is the first time objections have been raised about Newcombe who has been a part of the ceremony for a number of years.