Ron DeSantis will be the keynote speaker at an event in Miami next week sponsored by an anti-gay group that opposes same-sex marriage, lobbied against a local law banning gay-conversion therapy, used images of men leering at girls in bathrooms to stir fear about a proposal to accommodate transgender students and called homosexuality “aberrant” behavior.
DeSantis, the Florida Republican who resigned from Congress last month to focus on his run for governor, will speak at the Christian Family Coalition Florida’s annual Gala Dinner on Oct. 26, a week and a half before voters go to the polls.
DeSantis has attended events hosted by anti-gay groups in the past, including the coalition’s gala in 2015.
In July, he and his rival for the GOP nomination, state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, appeared at a meet-and-greet with the the group’s supporters, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Last month, DeSantis appeared at the Black Professionals Summit in Miami alongside the anti-gay political pundit Raynard Jackson, the Miami New Times reported.
In 2016, after 49 people were massacred at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Jackson wrote in The Washington Informer that the LGBT community “attempted to use the tragedy in Orlando to advance their ultimate political goal—forced acceptance of their lifestyle choices upon all Americans.” Jackson also expressed dismay that President Barack Obama ordered flags to be flown at half-staff after the shooting.
In DeSantis’ first term in Congress, he said in an interview with Newsmax TV that the GOP would continue to fight gay rights after former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee threatened to leave the party if it embraced same-sex marriage.
DeSantis told Newsmax that the Democratic Party was “hostile to conservatives’ cultural value,” but the GOP would remain a “strong opposition party to be able to stand up for those values.”
In 2016, DeSantis voted against a bill to prevent federal funds from going to contractors that didn’t protect homosexual and transgender people from discrimination. The bill failed by one vote, 212-213.
In May, DeSantis and Putnam appeared at a forum sponsored by the Florida Family Policy Council, whose website includes anti-gay talking points, including that the “core goal of the homosexual movement is to abolish the traditional, Judeo-Christian view of human sexuality,” and which opposes laws that protect the rights of same-sex or transgender people.
Christian Family Coalition Florida has a long record of anti-gay activism.
In 2002, its president, Antonio Verdugo Jr., was charged with falsely certifying a petition that sought a referendum to repeal Miami-Dade County’s ordinance protecting gay rights. According to the Associated Press, his attorney blamed the arrest on the “homosexual mafia who contribute money to the campaign coffers of officials.”
In 2013, Verdugo was fighting another Miami-Dade ordinance, this time one that would protect the rights of transgender people.
Verdugo warned that the county “wants to pass a dangerous law that will force all places to open bathrooms and dressing rooms to ‘transsexuals,’” the New Times reported.
In 2011, the Sun-Sentinel reported that, Verdugo sent an email to the group’s list urging support for a local official who opposed an official proclamation recognizing “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender Pride & Equality Month.”
In the email, he called homosexuality “biologically aberrant sexual behavior.”