Trump to embrace antigay forces at gathering near Pulse Nightclub in Orlando

BY TROY MASTERS  |  On the same day that Donald Trump drew the political spotlight by suggesting ‘Second Amendment folks’ should assassinate Hillary Clinton if she becomes President, it was announced that Trump will join Senator Marco Rubio Thursday August 11 in addressing an Orlando, Florida event hosted by anti-LGBT evangelical leaders.

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The convention will be attended by 700 religious conservatives and will take place at a convention center only moments away from Pulse Nightclub where an assassin murdered 49 people in the largest mass shooting in American history.

Trump is increasingly seeking support from the fringe elements of the GOP base as his poll numbers slip.

Through the event, called “Rediscovering God in America,” hosted by the Florida Renewal Project, Trump is courting the antigay evangelical vote.  

This is the second such meeting Trump has attended in recent weeks. In June, Trump met with more than 900 evangelical leaders in New York.

“Little Marco,” as Trump refers to the Senator, cited the deadly attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando as one reason he changed his mind about running for re-election to the U.S. Senate despite never having been an ally of the LGBT community.

Rubio, who will deliver the keynote address for the anti-LGBT confab, said “The event I will be speaking at in Orlando is a gathering of local pastors and faith leaders,” Rubio told Bloomberg News. “Leave it to the media and liberal activists to label a gathering of faith leaders as an anti-LGBT event. It is nothing of the sort. It is a celebration of faith.”

Rubio said conservatives have a right to fight for “traditional marriages” because “marriage is regulated by the individual states.”

David Lane, founder of the American Renewal Project, told Bloomberg News that “homosexual totalitarianism is out of the closet, the militants are trying to herd Christians there.”

“But what about the religious liberty of Christian photographers, Christian bakers, Christian retreat centers, and pastors who believe same-sex intercourse and marriage is sin?” Lane asked. “These Christians were simply living out their deeply held convictions of their Christian faith when they politely refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding. Doesn’t the First Amendment give us all a right to our beliefs?”

Enter Trump.

“Only weeks ago in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by terrorists,” Trump said during his Republican National Convention acceptance speech in July. “As your president I will do everything in my power to protect LGBTQ citizens.”

Governor Mike Huckabee with Kim Davis and her lawyer Mat Staver
Governor Mike Huckabee with Kim Davis and her lawyer Mat Staver
Orrington, Maine's Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor Ken Graves
Orrington, Maine’s Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor Ken Graves

The event will put Trump and Rubio in the company of some of the most extreme anti-gay activists in the country:

  • David Lane, whose organization is hosting the event, believes that gay rights will lead to the “utter destruction” of the U.S. and “car bombs in Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Des Moines, Iowa.” (Learn more about David Lane here).
  • Mat Staver, whose Liberty Counsel Action sent out the invitation to the event and who is scheduled to speak, has gained a national reputation by representing Davis and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore through the affiliated Liberty Counsel. Last month, Staver denounced memorial gatherings for the victims of the Orlando nightclub attack as “homosexual love fests.” Staver has claimed that gay people are “demonic,” seek to abuse children and are similar to terrorists, and has warned that gay rights victories could lead to “forced homosexuality” and “another civil war.” At the same time, he has praised countries that outlaw same-sex relationships. (Learn more about Mat Staver here).
  • David Barton, a Republican Party activist who styles himself as a historian, thinks that God is justly preventing a cure for HIV/AIDS because it is a divine “penalty” for homosexuality, and has lamented that public schools try to “force” students “to be homosexual” when homosexuality really should be regulated by the government. (Learn more about David Barton here).
  • Maine pastor Ken Graves preaches against “militant homofascism” that he says “seeks to take over our land and make it Sodom” and argues that gay people cannot build happy families because they are “depressed.”

From the Human Rights Campaign:  Just when you think Donald Trump and Marco Rubio couldn’t go any lower, they announce plans to court anti-LGBTQ activists in Orlando. On Thursday, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are going to seek votes from people who fundamentally believe we are not equal, who support dangerous and harmful conversion therapy and who have worked to export anti-LGBTQ hate abroad,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “Donald Trump would put at risk all the progress the LGBTQ community has made over the last eight years. And we know all too well that Marco Rubio — who has refused to stand up for LGBTQ Floridians time and again — would be his loyal accomplice. Because of elected officials like Marco Rubio, LGBTQ Floridians remain at risk of being fired or denied a job because of who they are or whom they love.”

Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way, said “the GOP standard bearer is choosing to rub shoulders with some of the most extreme anti-gay voices in the country speaks volumes about the Republican party today.

“These are people who revile gay people, calling them ‘demonic,’ and who claim that LGBT rights will lead to the ‘utter destruction’ of our country. But the GOP presidential candidate seemingly has no qualms about casting his lot with these dangerous anti-gay voices,” said Keegan, whose group was the first to report that Rubio would speak at the Orlando event.

Hannah Willard, spokesperson for Equality Florida told The Pride LA the group  will be picketing the event. 

“We are outraged at the audacity of Trump and Rubio to appear at this radical far-right event on the two-month anniversary of the Pulse Massacre. Senator Marco Rubio continues to insult the lives of the 49 victims by voting down common sense gun safety measures and relentlessly opposing basic human rights for LGBTQ people throughout his political career. Mr. Trump’s pandering to religious extremists is unacceptable – their hate speech causes real harm to LGBTQ people. Together we will make it absolutely clear that hatred and bigotry will never go unchallenged, especially here in Orlando.”

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