Kriseman says he'll use MLK Day breakfast as an opportunity to educate minister on his antigay views
Mayor Rick Kriseman said Friday he's going to attend the MLK Leadershp Awards Breakfast, an event that has sparked a firestorm of controversy this week after gay-rights groups asked that a prominent Baltimore preacher be disinvited for his anti-gay comments.
Kriseman said he won't sit quietly at the Jan. 18 event where Dr. Jamal Bryant is expected to appear.
"I think it's an opportunity for me to state what our values are and to educate him to what our values are as a community. I clearly don't agree with what he has to say. Whether he takes to heart what I say or not will be for him to decide, but I want our community to know who we are and I want to reinforce that very loud and clear, " Kriseman said.
Late Thursday, the local NAACP branch, which relaunched late last year after being shuttered for about a year, issued a statement criticizing Kriseman for declining to award Bryant a key to the city. The civil rights group also said gay-rights groups and the mayor shouldn't "dictate" to the black community about who should appear at their community's events.
The group expressed its support for the event's organizers and announced it would buy a table.
Kriseman said the NAACP's position hasn't changed his mind.
"That's an opinion expressed by a group. That doesn't mean that group speaks for the entire African-American community. I think there are many in the African-American community who don't agree with the pastor's positions," Kriseman said.
The local branch of the National Council of Negro Woman's lead organizer for the event, Angela Rouson, hasn't responded to requests for comment.
Her husband, Rep. Darryl Rouson, inititally defended Bryant's appearance, saying it would be a good ministering opportunity to help a national figure known for his work in the Black Lives Matter movement evolve his views on gay rights.
But Darryl Rouson has since called for Bryant's invitation to be rescinded joining St. Pete Pride, the Stonewall Democrats and about a dozen gay-rights and Black Lives Matter activists.
Some St. Petersburg black ministers have rallied to Bryant's side.
Bryant himself has not responded to requests for comment, although he retweeted a Tampa Bay Times blog post about the local NAACP's position.
Kriseman said he didn't think the MLK controversy reflects a rift between the city's black and gay communities, which overlap.
"I don't think that's the case at all," Kriseman said.