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Group plans protest of Mayors Prayer Breakfast speaker

Posted: April 30, 2013 3:22 p.m.
Updated: April 30, 2013 3:22 p.m.

Members of the Santa Clarita Unity Coalition are planning to rally in front of the Hyatt Regency Valencia early Thursday to protest the keynote speaker at the Mayors Prayer Breakfast, a group representative said Tuesday.

The group will protest the selection of Pacific Justice Institute President Brad Dacus as the main speaker for the event, saying his past comments are intolerant of gay rights, said Susan Wachter, a representative with the coalition.

“Dacus is an anti-gay activist,” Wachter said Tuesday. “He’s actively involved in fighting against any advancements for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.”

Dacus made headlines in 2008 for remarks he made in support of California’s Proposition 8 when he said inaction by German religious leaders contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party and warned the American church could not take the same attitude regarding gay marriage.

Dacus told The Signal last week he thinks those remarks have been taken out of context.

“I would be happy to apologize to anyone face-to-face who interpreted anything different to what I said and intended to communicate,” Dacus said.

During that same interview, Dacus said he was aware people might turn out to protest the event.

“I respect demonstrators,” he said. “But I appreciate even more those who are willing to have a dialogue and communicate.”

Dacus is the president and founder of the Pacific Justice Institute, a legal defense organization that specializes in religious freedom cases.

Thursday’s rally is meant to support unity and respect, Wachter said, and will include a non-denominational prayer.

The Unity Coalition is also asking invited elected officials, including Santa Clarita City Council members, to boycott the breakfast, Wachter said.

Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar, who is scheduled to speak at the event, told The Signal last week he has no plans to skip the breakfast.

Representatives and members from several local churches, including St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Living Faith Lutheran Church and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Santa Clarita, will also join in the rally, which begins at 6:30 a.m. in front of the Hyatt Regency Valencia, according to Wachter.

Pastor Pam Challis of Living Faith Lutheran said Tuesday she is planning on attending the rally.
Though she understands the event is not put on by the city, Challis said she thinks having such a speaker at the event sends the wrong message.

“I think to have something that is even tangentially sanctioned by our city, and especially by the mayor’s office, I find that to be offensive and distressing for the people we are representing,” Challis said.

Joe Messina, chairman of the Dunamis Group that puts on the breakfast, said he supports the right of the group to protest but said he thinks the group is not fulfilling its mission of being respectful to all viewpoints.

“That mission sounds good, but it only applies if you agree with them,” Messina said Tuesday.

The Dunamis Group is an organization that seeks to promote Christian values in business, Messina said.
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