Hypocrisy Reigns in Orlando Aftermath

Moses Frenck

The same people who have expended tremendous energy and taxpayer dollars to deny the rights of LGBT people and who have refused to block gun sales to suspected terrorists and people convicted of hate crimes this week went out of their way to express their condolences to the victims of the Orlando massacre and solidarity with the LGBT community.

Hypocrisy Reigns in Orlando AftermathThe same officials who have voted against treating anti-LGBT attacks as hate crimes, who have voted to exclude LGBT people from federal anti-discrimination laws and fought tooth and nail against gay marriage are now in their court.

On Tuesday, in a video that has since gone viral, CNN’s Anderson Cooper repeatedly called out Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi over her hypocrisy with regard to her support for the gay community following the Orlando massacre.

Cooper questioned Bondi, a Republican, over the “sick irony” and “hypocrisy” of litigating against legalizing same-sex marriage including her claim that gay people were trying to “harm” Floridians while now posing as a “champion” of the LGBT community.

He added that even the telephone hotline Bondi has been touting for family members and spouses to obtain information about their loved ones would not have been effective if Bondi had her way.

“Had there been no gay marriage, had there been no same-sex marriage, you do realize that spouses, there would be no spouses, that boyfriends and girlfriends of the dead would not be able to get information and would not be able probably even to visit in the hospital here,” Cooper said, asking her, “Isn’t there a sick irony in that”

Bondi stumbled through her answers, attempting to deflect. The Daily Beast described Anderson’s interview of Bondi as “a textbook example of how to hold a dissembling politician accountable, cutting through spin and prevarications with the incisive elegance of a surgeon, but without anesthetic.”

The hypocrisy has come from presidential candidates, sitting senators and congressmen, state legislators, former governors and others who in the past have disparaged the LGBT community, suggesting LGBT people are not worthy of the same rights and protections afforded to other citizens.

Former Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal all offered condolences and words of support in tweets this week. Yet, six months ago, all three attended a Republican presidential candidate rally in Iowa at which the host, Pastor Kevin Swanson, called for gays to be put to death right before introducing the three candidates and shaking their hands.

Huckabee, who tweeted, “Please join Janet and me in praying for the victims of the Orlando attack and their families,” in the past has compared gay marriage advocates to Nazis, in his book compared homosexuality to pedophilia, has said AIDS patients should be quarantined, called homosexuality a “lifestyle” similar to drinking alcohol and said that legalizing same-sex marriage is equivalent to legalizing incest and drug use. Following the Supreme Court decision upholding gay marriage, Huckabee tweeted: “Jesus wept.”

In response to Trump’s comments in the past few days, ranging from self-congratulations to saying he is a friend of the LGBT community, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin called the statements “shameful and disgusting.”

“[Trump] is no friend to the LGBT community. He is no friend,” Griffin said on CNN. “And at a moment like this when a leader should put their personal ambitions and their partisan differences aside, or just shut up, but if they choose to speak out, they should be speaking from a place of unity and a place of sympathy and talking about building bridges.”

The website Think Progress compiled numerous tweets from lawmakers in the aftermath of the tragedy, pointing out that tweets from Democratic members of Congress pledged solidarity with the LGBT community, while tweets by Republicans avoided mentioning LGBT people altogether.

Meanwhile, Igor Volsky, deputy director of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, posted tweet after tweet showing how much money each of the politicians condemning the attack received from the NRA:

“I call on @tedcruz to abandon $65,300+ he got from @NRA and vote to make it harder for terrorists to get AR-15s.”

“@NRA pumped $922K into McConnell’s re-elect, so his speech on #OrlandoShooting doesn’t even mention the word ‘guns’.”

“@SpeakerRyan – who took $35K from @NRA – has issued a statement on #OrlandoShooting that doesn’t even mention guns.”

On the Senate floor on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) lashed out atFlorida Senator and former GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio for voting against gun control measures.

“How can the junior senator from Florida, who all of a sudden is again interested in running for re-election, how can he speak of running for office again when he voted to let potential terrorists buy assault weapons and explosives” Reid said. “The junior senator voted against every gun safety measure. He voted against background checks, assault weapons ban, against legislation limiting the size of ammunition clips. I ask again, is this what we want for America, mass shooting after mass shooting”

Rubio, who also offered support for the gay community following the shooting, is the same person who, when serving as Florida’s House majority leader, pushed for Florida’s ban to allow gay people to foster children. “Some of these kids are the most disadvantaged in the state,” he said at the time. “They shouldn’t be forced to be part of a social experiment.”

In North Carolina, meanwhile, the massacre has not stopped anti-gay activists from continuing to push their agenda.

“Have they no shame Have they no empathy It is unconscionable that as the nation mourns the 49 victims of the horrific massacre in Orlando, anti-equality activists in North Carolina are urging lawmakers to support one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQ laws in the country,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC senior vice president for policy and political affairs. “The so-called NC Values Coalition is showing its true colors today. Their callous disregard for the victims and loved ones devastated by this heartbreaking tragedy is disgusting and indefensible. Only a deep-seated hatred could drive a decision to attack a community while it is in mourning.”

(Originally published in DiversityInc June 15, 2016.)