It’s been nearly two weeks since the massacre at the Pulse nightclub, and it’s worth asking whether Republicans actually took the virulent hatred on display in military-style assault to heart and started questioning their own attitudes toward the LGBT community.
The short answer: no.
With the heroic exception of Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Republican leaders have done little other than offer generic sympathy for the victims of the attack. In fact, even by antigay standards, most GOP leaders have demonstrated a breathtaking ability to pretend to care about the LGBT community while using the attack to make the usual political hay. As for a real change of heart–yeah, not so much.
There’s a long list to choose from, but here are six of the most egregious examples of GOP hypocrisy…
1. Paul Ryan
The House Speaker and runner-up in the 2012 vice-presidential race has always been good about making a sad puppy face to cover up a pretty heartless agenda. This time, he outdid himself. First there was the debacle over the House’s moment of silence, which Democrats roundly criticized as an empty ritual by walking out on it. Then a rule that Ryan introduced was used to ensure that the House wouldn’t vote on a measure to extend workplace protections to federal contractors who are LGBT. Undeterred by this run of low behavior, Ryan then positioned himself as a defender of the LGBT community by complaining about the FBI’s release of edited transcripts that shooter Omar Mateen made to 911. “We…know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community,’ Ryan said, as if he was motivated out of real concern for us and not by scoring points against the president.
2. Marco Rubio
His performance as a defective automaton derailed his presidential ambitions, and soon afterwards Rubio announced he was calling it quits altogether, refusing to run for re-election. It’s a decision he now clearly regrets. Looking for some feeble excuse to forego his promise to voters, Rubio chose an offensive one instead. Just one day after the Pulse shootings, Rubio surveyed the carnage and decided to exploit it to revive his electoral hopes. After saying he was “deeply impacted” by the attack, Rubio immediately made it all about him: “It really gives you pause to think a little bit about, you know, your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country.” For Rubio, service to your country means continuing to deny rights to people like those who died and to never question your own role in failing to confront hatred amoung his own religious right supporters.
3. Pam Biondi
After years of opposing gay rights, the Florida attorney general suddenly went full rainbow in the wake of the shooting. When Anderson Cooper questioned Biondi about the politically expedient change of heart, Biondi lamely responded that “I never said I didn’t like gay people.” Then she proved just the opposite afterwards by slamming Anderson for encouraging “anger and hate.” Apparently, it never occurred to Biondi that equating the hatred that led to the death of 49 people with a line of questioning about she disliked wasn’t the height of sensitivity.
4. Ted Cruz
America’s creepiest Senator used the Pulse shootings to argue that Democrats were the primary supporters of killings gays worldwide. “The regime in Iran now supported by billions of dollars of American taxpayer dollars at the behest of President Obama murders homosexuals regularly,” Cruz argued from the Senate floor. Of course, when he was running for president, Cruz had no problem sharing the stage with a Christian minister who for called putting gays to death. In Cruz’s universe, that’s called loving the sinner.
5. Bill Haslam and Pat McCrory
The governors of Tennessee and North Carolina, respectively, ordered the states to fly flags at half mast to honor the victims of the shooting. This is the same Bill Haslam who who less than two months ago signed a bill into law that allows psychologists to turn away gay clients on religious grounds. It’s also the same Pat McCrory who signed a measure that voided all local nondiscrimination protections. Apparently, the symbolism of lowered flags make it all okay now.
Photo Credit: torbakhopper