KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The most controversial moment of a Donald Trump rally here Thursday night may have come before the bombastic candidate took the stage. For a solid 20 minutes, a Confederate flag with the words “Trump 2016” hung from the railing in the Silver Spurs Arena.
It was easily visible even as public figures like Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Pastor Mark Burns gave warm-up speeches before the Republican presidential nominee took the stage. Then minutes before Trump began his speech, organizers asked the supporters who brought the flag into the venue to furl it.
The imagery harkens back to a heated debate throughout the South over the flag’s racist meaning after another mass shooting, in Charleston, S.C., which ended with the flag being removed from the capitol grounds. It also harkens back to a New York Times video that recently went viral that recorded unfiltered remarks by Trump supporters that were unabashedly racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic. Confederate symbolism makes an apperance there as well.
The media doesn’t often focus on the attitude of the Trump crowds. Even in this latest case, as tends to happen at Trump rallies, such symbolism got brushed aside as the crowd got whipped up over other matters.
Most importantly, Trump was speaking in a suburb of Orlando two months after the Pulse massacre and hours after meeting with pastors and evangelicals during an event critics have called an anti-LGBT gathering. Trump made mention of the Orlando attack, saying more people should have reported shooter Omar Mateen to the FBI: “People knew he was demented.” In fact, Mateen was interviewed multiple times by the FBI based on complaints placed by those who knew him.
Clearly building off the closed-door discussions with leaders at the American Renewal Project conference in Orlando earlier in the day, Trump appealed to social conservatives in the room. “The evangelicals took me to a point that I never even thought we could reach,” he said. “All around the country we did well.”
The Advocate has the full story. Speaking of the intense anti-LGBT gathering in Orlando, again, Marco Rubio just will not shut up about being a keynote speaker, and keeps on attempting to defend his stance, while at the same time, telling people not to be judgmental. Hypocrisy knows no limit where Rubio is concerned:
ORLANDO — In a speech laden with scripture, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Friday compelled church leaders at a conference here to “abandon the spirit of judgment” against LGBT neighbors. The remarks came on the two-month anniversary of a shooting at the Pulse night club located about 10 miles from the religious gathering.
Rubio was the headline speaker for The American Renewal Project’s two-day event in Orlando, and on Friday devoted much of a 30-minute speech to encouraging preachers to create an accepting environment free of discrimination. “In order to love people, we have to listen to them,” he said. “When it comes to our brothers and our sisters, our fellow Americans, our neighbors in the LGBT community, we should recognize that our nation, while the greatest nation in the history of mankind, is one with a history that has been marred by the discrimination against and the rejection of gays and lesbians.”
He also emphasized his continued opposition to marriage equality, saying his faith called for the elevation of the “union of one man and one woman.” But he said Christian leaders should understand many gays and lesbians felt “angry and humiliated” that the law until recently did not recognize their own loving relationships. “Many have experienced sometimes severe condemnation and judgment from some Christians,” Rubio said. “They have heard some say that the reason God will bring condemnation on America is because of them. As if somehow God was willing to put up with adultery and gluttony and greed and pride, but now this is the last straw.”
Rubio’s anti-LGBT record is lengthy. The senator doesn’t support the Equality Act proposed in Congress, for example. It would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1967 Civil Rights Act, ensuring protection from discrimination in housing and employment. When he had a chance to vote in 2013, Rubio voted against passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which some moderate Republicans helped pass 64-32 in the Senate, though it would stall in the House. But his discriminatory policy stands don’t stop there. Rubio has in the past said letting LGBT people adopt children is a “social experiment” that he opposes. He also opposed reversing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that required LGBT people to stay closeted while serving in the U.S. military.
The Advocate has the full story.