Skip to main content

To make Press Center inquiries, email press@splcenter.org

SPLC Condemns Fort Lauderdale City Council Rubber-Stamping Legacy of Anti-LGBTQ Pastor Dr. D. James Kennedy

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – City commissioners in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, voted tonight on a proclamation declaring March 21, 2021, as Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Day and Westminster Academy Day in the City of Fort Lauderdale. Among those specifically listed in the proclamation is Dr. D. James Kennedy — the founder of the D. James Kennedy Ministries, an organization on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

Scott D. McCoy, interim deputy legal director for LGBTQ rights and special litigation for the SPLC, issued the following statement in response to the vote on the proclamation:

“SPLC is appalled that the Fort Lauderdale City Council even considered, let alone approved, a proclamation honoring anti-LGBTQ activist Dr. D. James Kennedy and his legacy. Fort Lauderdale is known as 'Florida’s Gay Capital' and was one of the first to make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation, and the vote is a slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ residents that call the area home. It’s particularly egregious that Mayor Dean J. Trantalis, the first openly gay mayor of Fort Lauderdale, refused to condemn the effort to honor someone who for years spewed hate-filled views.

“Kennedy’s D. James Kennedy Ministries, formerly Coral Ridge Ministries, has actively campaigned against same-sex marriage and has a history of maligning the entire LGBTQ community. Over the years, Kennedy emphasized anti-gay rhetoric, particularly in his TV ministry. In an especially nasty 1989 edition of a newsletter, Kennedy ran photographs of children along with the tagline, 'Sex With Children? Homosexuals Say Yes!'

“It is unconscionable that the Fort Lauderdale City Council chose to commend Kennedy and those connected to him for '60 years of prayer and service for in our community' and extended its 'best wishes for its continued success.'

“At a time when lawmakers across the country have filed a record number of bills this year that would impact the rights of transgender people, there are so many more important issues to be dealt with than observing a commemorative day for those like D. James Kennedy who actively seek to demonize LGBTQ individuals and drive them back into the closet.

“We are deeply committed to protecting and advancing the rights, dignity, and freedom of the LGBTQ community in the Deep South and to removing barriers to equality. SPLC will not sit quietly as people like D. James Kennedy are honored, and we will continue to sound the alarm about why we designate these types of groups as hate groups and raise public awareness.”