Following the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said he was so affected by the tragedy that he changed his mind and decided to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, while Donald Trump claimed that he would best represent the LGBT community by opposing Muslim immigration.
“Ask the gays” who their true friend is, Trump said.
But rather than stand in solidarity with the LGBT community, as they pledged to do, they will be addressing a summit on the dangers of “homosexual totalitarianism” organized by some of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT activists.
While Rubio has denied that the “Rediscovering God in America” event has anything to do with LGBT issues, its chief organizer, David Lane of the American Renewal Project, said explicitly that the gathering will focus on how LGBT equality endangers religious liberty.
Besides Lane, Trump and Rubio will be joining Religious Right activists Mat Staver, David Barton, Bill Federer and Ken Graves. That Trump and Rubio would stand with these activists shouldn’t be surprising, since both have promised to back anti-LGBT legislation and support judicial nominees hostile to LGBT rights, but it does show how their promises to defend the LGBT community only amounted to cynical and shallow political ploys.
Here is just a sampling of what Trump and Rubio’s far-right allies have said about the LGBT community:
David Lane, the main organizer of the Orlando event, said in 2013 that God would punish America over the appearance of a gay poet and a pro-gay-rights priest at President Obama’s inauguration, including with car bombings in cities across the country:
Lane has also written extensively about the LGBT rights movement, describing it as a “pagan onslaught” that “has threatened our utter destruction.”
“Homosexuality is debauchery,” he wrote, adding: “Homosexual desire and marriage is unnatural and—more so—is a symptom of advanced cultural decay and precursor to the collapse of the Republican Party and the nation.”
Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver has been fighting LGBT rights for years, representing clients like Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who both defied the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, and Lisa Miller, who during a custody battle with her former female partner, kidnapped their daughter and fled to Central America.
He has repeatedly compared LGBT activists to terrorists and warned that they are “forcing” homosexuality onto people, while at the same time he has frequently praised countries that criminalize homosexuality and pro-gay speech and has floated the possibility of civil war and revolution to stop marriage equality.
Staver has described gay people as child molesters who seek to transform groups like the Boy Scouts into “a playground for pedophiles” where they can “go and have all these boys as objects of their lust.”
In the wake of the Pulse nightclub attack, Staver criticized churches for participating in memorial events that he saw as “a homosexual love fest.”
David Barton, a Republican Party activist and self-styled historian, has a long record of attacks against the LGBT community.
Several times, Barton has said that God is preventing scientists from finding a cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS because such a discovery would remove the divine punishment for homosexuality, arguing that homosexuality is a curse on people and society, while “chasing the sodomites” out of a community would lead to revival.
He once warned parents of public school students that “unless you’re willing to monitor what’s going on in that classroom,” he could “guarantee” that their children “are getting homosexual indoctrination,” lamenting that many children identify as gay because schools have decided to “force them to be homosexual.”
He has also falsely claimed that ex-gay conversion therapy is now part of the scientific mainstream and insisted that gay marriage harms the economy and leads to national collapse.
Barton has even “called for the federal regulation and outlawing of gay sex because it is ‘very repugnant’ and ‘reprehensible and disgusting.’ He has warned that gay marriage will force male and female students to share the same locker rooms, that it has legalized pedophilia and bestiality and will now force churches to hire child molesters to run their day care centers.”
Longtime LGBT rights opponent and Maine pastor Ken Graves appeared at an Orlando rally last year where he warned that “militant homofascism seeks to take over our land and make it Sodom” and is working in conjunction with those trying to establish Islamic rule and a “secular humanist caliphate.”
It is no wonder that groups including the Equality Florida, Human Rights Campaign, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, People For the American Way and many others have condemned Trump and Rubio’s appearance at the event.