Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ Tuesday proclamation establishing June 12 as Pulse Remembrance Day omitted any reference to the LGBTQ community which had been included in Former Gov. Rick Scott’s 2017 and 2018 proclamations.
DeSantis’ proclamation calls for the entire state of Florida to stand “with Orlando and the Central Florida community against terrorism” on Wednesday as the nation marks the third anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, where 49 people lost their life in Orlando.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando, whose House District 47 includes Pulse, called out DeSantis’ snub of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Governor Ron DeSantis has stripped any mention of the #LGBTQ community in remembering #Pulse,” Eskamani wrote on Facebook. “This is completely straight-washed and an insult to #HD47. Based on these side-by-side Pulse proclamations, Governor Rick Scott was a better friend to LGBTQ Floridians than DeSantis.”
The Florida Democratic Party issued a statement saying it was “shocked and saddened” by the omission of any reference to the LGBTQ community in the proclamation.
“Gov. Ron DeSantis declared June 12 Pulse Remembrance Day, and while he mentioned terrorism and ISIS, he made no mention of the LGBTQ community. I have a message for Gov. DeSantis: We won’t be erased,” Juan Peñalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, who is also a member of the LGBTQ community, said in the statement. “We are here and we demand to be seen and heard. That night was painful enough, we deserve better. Gov. DeSantis should issue an apology and release a new statement that acknowledges our community.”
In response to the backlash, DeSantis tweeted: “Today we mourn the loss of life of 49 innocent victims of an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando that targeted the LGBTQ and Hispanic community, and Florida as a whole. In honor of their memory, I am ordering flags to be lowered to half-staff,” DeSantis tweeted Wednesday morning.”
Florida Politics notes:
The controversy, over whether to attribute the attack to terrorism or LGBTQ hatred or both, digs up the partisan split that emerged immediately after the June 12, 2016, massacre that left 49 dead and 53 wounded at Pulse. In many quarters, the split has largely continued since.
The crazed gunman had both pledged support for ISIS during the massacre and expressed strong hatred of gays. In ensuing statements, many Republicans focused on the ISIS-terrorism element, while many Democrats focused on the LGBTQ hatred. A few, notably Scott, managed to acknowledge both.
In fact, DeSantis’ latest proclamation was largely modeled, paragraph for paragraph, on Scott’s earlier proclamations, with just a few wording changes. Those changes included dropping Scott’s wording “including Florida’s LGBTQ community”, and adding the words regarding terrorism.
Following DeSantis’s Wednesday morning tweet, Eskamani issued a statement reading, “Advocacy matters. No doubt Governor Ron DeSantis saw the blowback on social media for erasing LGBTQ people and is now doing damage control. An apology is warranted for the original Pulse proclamation and though I appreciate the recognition of LGBTQ people through a tweet, I demand now more than ever that he offer LGBTQ protections to state workers and push the legislature to pass the Competitive Workforce Act. We honor those who are no longer with us through action, and I hope the Governor now realizes that.”