The Republican National Committee won’t say gay.
Earlier this week, the RNC released its official statement on the Pulse shooting, which claimed the lives of 49 people in Orlando. There was, however, one thing missing from the group’s statement: an acknowledgement of the victims’ LGBT identities.
In its initial statement, the national GOP recognized that the shooting, the largest in U.S. history, was an attack on the LGBT community. Even then, the language was brief and rather vague. “Violence against any group of people simply for their lifestyle or orientation has no place in America or anywhere else,” the original press release read.
The group would later decide to cut that language out when the RNC’s official statement was released to the public Monday. It was replaced with a denunciation of Islamic extremism.
“A terrorist attack against any American is an assault against us all, and Saturday’s violence will only harden the commitment of our people to maintain a free, peaceful, and democratic society in which all beliefs are tolerated,” the RNC said.
In an interview with Mashable, Lindsay Walters, a spokeswoman for the RNC, defended the change. “Walters said the revision was meant to be more inclusive because it invoked a common humanity and referenced all Americans instead of singling out LGBT people,” Mashable reports.
But Log Cabin Republicans president Gregory T. Angelo said that the amendment is indicative of the way the GOP has largely cut LGBT people out of their own tragedy.
“Scrubbing an early draft of their press release for any specific mention of gay people or sexual orientation is indicative of the cowardice a lot of Republicans exhibited in the aftermath of the shootings,” Angelo told the tech website.
Following Sunday's attack on the Florida gay bar, many right-wing politicians tweeted their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. Many of these lawmakers, however, specifically avoiding invoking of the sexual orientation of those who were killed. The Washington Post found that Democrats were 10 times more likely to “[address] the LGBT community in their statements.”
These GOP politicians included Sen. Orrin Hatch, Rep. Cory Gardner Sen. Tom Cotton, Rep. Renee Ellmers, and even former presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
Ellmers is a Donald Trump supporter who has backed North Carolina’s House Bill 2, a controversial law that forces trans people to use public bathrooms (in government buildings) that do not correspond with their gender identity. Cotton once defended Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act by saying it could be worse — other countries kill LGBT people.
“In Iran, they hang you for the crime of being gay,” he said.
Cotton offered his condolences Sunday to those gunned down in Orlando, but as with the GOP statement, something was missing. “My prayers, and the prayers of all Arkansans, are with the victims of last night's attack in Orlando and their families,” he tweeted.
Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told Mashable that this trend is indicative of how willing the Republican Party is to deny the humanity of LGBT people.
“Even in the face of such a horrific attack on our community,” Minter said, “the RNC cannot bring itself to embrace LGBT people or to acknowledge that anti-LGBT hate violence is a serious, nationwide problem.”
Following the Orlando attack, the GOP has also continued to block LGBT protections in Congress. On Tuesday, House Republicans declined to vote on a bill from gay Rep. Sean Maloney that would have barred companies with federal government contracts from discriminating on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.