Little Acknowledgment That LGBT People Were Targeted in Orlando Gun Massacre

*The following is an opinion column by R Muse *

So as America reels from another mass shooting, all the typical responses came as expected, mainly condemning domestic terrorism but not the ease at acquiring battlefield weapons, and offering worthless prayers to and for the victims. What has been missing from the mass of public statements is an overwhelming acknowledgement that the targets were predominately LGBT Americans. Although it’s true the alleged shooter carries a name associated with the Middle East, few pundits and politicians are paying any attention to the shooter’s father’s statement.

The alleged shooter’s father said,  “We are apologizing for the whole incident. We weren’t aware of any action he was taking. We are in shock, like the whole country.  This had nothing to do with religion … but he got really angry when he saw two men kissing in downtown Miami a couple of months ago.” The shooter’s ex-wife who wished to remain anonymous said that Omar Mateen “was not a stable person.” But she also made sure to note that he was also not very religious and had never given any indication of ever having fallen sway under the influence of radical Islam. She did say that, “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished.” She also said that in light of the massacre she felt very lucky to have removed herself from Omar Mateen.

Omar Mateen’s father also said his son had a degree in criminal justice and was currently working at a security job. According to several sources,  the guns used in the brutal massacre were just recently purchased legally since Mateen was a native-born American citizen with no criminal record. He also had a license to carry a concealed weapon and a “security officer license as well.”

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Of course it is far too early to speculate on the shooter’s actual motivation, but of course since he is an American born citizen of Middle Eastern descent, it is convenient to claim his attack was borne of the Islamic faith, a claim the shooter’s father, and former wife, said is completely wrong. Despite there being credence to the attack being a hate crime targeting the LGBT community, no-one wanted to address the obvious except, of course, President Obama.

While politicians were giving their normal response to yet another senseless mass shooting by railing on Muslims, offering prayers, defending or condemning on the proliferation of firearms, and sending “heartfelt” prayers to the victims and their families, only the President addressed what appears to have driven the madman to slaughter innocent Americans at what is being called a “popular gay” nightclub. The President said:

This is an especially heartbreaking day for our friends, our fellow Americans, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends to dance and to sing, and to live. The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub. It is a place of solidarity, empowerment where people come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds and to advocate for their civil rights. So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country.”

Of course President Obama is right; the massacre is especially heartbreaking for LGBT Americans, their friends and their families. But he was alone in making the statement that the horrific attack is on “the fundamental values or equality and dignity” he claims defines us as a country. Those fundamental values are not now, and have never been extended to the LGBT community to this day and the lack of acknowledgment that this attack specifically targeted gays by too many politicians is telling indeed.

For example, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement that never once mentioned the LGBT community. He mentioned every other group under the Sun, but not one word about gays being the target of the mayhem.

Florida Governor Rick Scott actually refused, on CNN no less, to acknowledge that LGBT people were targeted by the shooter despite Mateen’s  father’s acknowledgment that what made his son “really angry” was the sight of two men kissing. One thing is certain: if the victims had been white heterosexual Christians, there would have been outrage at their being “targeted” and it is just further proof that Republicans in particular do not consider the LGBT community as being worthy of those fundamental rights the President talked about.

The sad fact is there is a significant portion of the population that has no concept of equality  being a fundamental value and defining trait of America, particularly for the LGBT community. In fact while Republicans were giving their typical responses after an act of domestic terrorism, or a hate crime, Texas’ Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick took the typical evangelical low road and tweeted an “inspirational” bible message in response to the massacre that said,

Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Patrick’s evangelical extremism is legend, and he only deleted the hateful “Christian” response to 50 souls losing their lives after being slammed on Twitter and harshly criticized by the Texas Democratic Chair who demanded that Patrick apologize immediately. At Dallas’ predominately LGBT church, Cathedral of Hope, the senior pastor condemned Patrick’s message as contradicting god’s message to, “love one another as I have loved you.” He continued that “Such speak gives permission to hate” and that it was disheartening to see a state leader use a tragic mass shooting to “swipe LGBT people” by saying that you reap what you sow.

None of the victims in Orlando were reaping what they’ve sown any more than 20 little children, theatre goers, students at Columbine, or African Americans in their place of worship did. What they reaped was a Republican Party that is too terrified of crossing the National Rifle Association and state laws allowing any citizen to own assault weapons that belong on the battlefield, not America’s streets.

Sadly, the current “heartbreak” and shock will last about a week and then it will be back to business as usual with Republicans lashing out at Muslims, defending the proliferation of battlefield weapons, and finding new religious grounds to attack the LGBT community and deny them their constitutionally-protected equal and civil rights. At least Republicans won’t be out gunning down LGBT Americans…not when they have a nation full of homophobic religious maniacs with assault weapons on every corner.

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