Speaking at a Donald Trump rally in Kissimmee, Fla., Thursday, a gay man who said he lives just one mile away from the Pulse nightclub in Orlando shamed President Obama for visiting the City Beautiful in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Randy Ross, who last year ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Orlando, said he was “troubled” by the president’s visit to Orlando four days after shooter Omar Mateen opened fire in the popular LGBT club, killing 49 people and wounding 53 more.
“The death of 49 innocent people was an attack on the gay community, it was an attack on the Hispanic community, but moreover, it was an attack on Americans,” Ross said to Trump supporters gathered in Kissimmee Thursday, just one day before the Republican presidential nominee spoke at a virulently anti-LGBT event in the same city.
Ross slammed the tone and content of the speech the president gave four days after the shooting at the makeshift Pulse memorial in downtown Orlando. On June 16, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden laid white roses in memory of the victims and challenged those opposed to stricter gun control laws to meet with the families of those lost to gun violence.
“While victims were in the hospital, families were grieving, funeral arrangement were being made for the victims, our city mourning, [Obama] turned the conversation into one of gun control,” Ross lamented. “President Obama, guns are not the problem. Box-cutters are not the problem. Box trucks are not the problem, pressure cookers are not the problem. The problem can be summed up in three words he seems to not be willing to say: radical Islamic terrorism.”
In his preliminary address on the day of the Pulse shooting, Obama called the attack “an act of terror and an act of hate.” During his remarks from the White House two days after the massacre, Obama did acknowledge that the shooter appeared to be “self-radicalized” and noted that he had pledged allegiance to the terrorist group known as ISIS.
In his opening remarks, Ross identified himself as “a 50-year-old man who is a Republican, that happens to be gay.” He went on to further explain that he “is an American, and I will not go back in the closet, because I am supporting Donald J. Trump for president.”
After rattling off a list of Trump positions that Ross agrees with — including the billionaire’s “stand on illegal immigration,” “reducing our $20 trillion debt,” and “reducing our backwards foreign trade policies” — Ross turned his attention to the Democratic nominee for president.
Ross painted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a dishonest politician who will “say anything to get elected.”
“I prefer a president who isn’t politically correct as opposed to one who lies and panders to the communities and minorities she truly doesn’t represent,” Ross said to enthusiastic applause. “The LGBT community needs to be reminded, it was Bill Clinton that signed the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ And it was not long ago, Hillary Clinton made it clear she believed marriage was between a man and a woman — now she says she supports same-sex marriage.”
Clinton has been frequently criticized for her slow “evolution” to support marriage equality. She did not publicly announce her support for the freedom to marry until March 2013; President Obama had announced his support in May 2012. In an interview last September, Clinton acknowledged that she had evolved on the issue and rejected claims that her stance shifted only because the political atmosphere did as well.
Ross went on to echo another common conservative criticism of Clinton: that she and her campaign have accepted donations and partnerships with countries that criminalize being gay. It’s a criticism Trump himself has made about his rival, but as CNN points out, the Republican presidential hopeful has a sordid history himself of doing business in anti-LGBT nations and with violent dictators.
And while Ross ripped into Clinton for her supposed betrayal of LGBT people, he neglected to mention that Trump has repeatedly stated his intention to stack the Supreme Court with justices who would overturn the landmark 2015 decision that brought marriage equality to all 50 states. He has also stated his support for North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law known as House Bill 2, which forces transgender residents to use public bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match their gender identity. Further, the Trump campaign’s Evangelical Advisory Board is composed almost entirely of anti-LGBT activists who have a long history of spreading lies and misinformation about LGBT people.
Ross also declined to mention the fact that Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, is arguably best known on the national stage for his staunch support of a sweeping anti-LGBT “religious freedom” law in his state, which caused such widespread nationwide backlash that the governor and legislature forced to amend the law. The outspoken anti-LGBT attitudes at the top of the Republican Party’s ticket have led several prominent LGBT leaders to declare that a Trump-Pence administration would be disastrous for LGBT Americans.
Nevertheless, Ross urged his fellow LGBT Americans to join him in supporting Trump, “ensuring we elect a president that truly wants to protect our Constitution and freedoms it provides all of us.”
Watch Ross’s speech in Kissimmee below.