LGBTQ

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Snubs LGBTQ Community in Pulse Remembrance

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
click to enlarge Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis - GAGE SKIDMORE / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
June is Pride Month. The 2016 attack on the Pulse nightclub, which occurred three years ago today, killed 49 people at an event held for gay Latino men.

Yet Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — or someone in his administration — decided it was necessary this year to scrub mentions of the LGBTQ community from the state's yearly Pulse Memorial Day proclamation. In 2018, then-Gov. Rick Scott's memo noted the state continues to "mourn the tragic loss of life and recognize the lasting impact it has on our state and communities, including Florida's LGBTQ community." But DeSantis' proclamation, his first as governor, oddly scrubbed the mention of the "LGBTQ community" and replaced it with the "Orlando and Central Florida community."

Hours after being browbeaten online for the statement, DeSantis seemingly backpedaled this morning and tweeted that the attack "targeted the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities, and Florida as a whole." His office later released a statement claiming the edits were a “staff error.” His spokesperson, former Trump employee Helen Aguirre Ferre, said DeSantis would issue a “corrected” memo that does actually mention the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.
State Rep. Anna Eskamani first flagged the difference on Twitter last night. She called the statement "completely straight-washed" and went on to lambaste DeSantis for failing to mention the Latin community or any communities of color.

"Imagine if the Mayor of Pittsburgh didn’t talk about the Jewish community in a proclamation about the synagogue shooting," she wrote, referencing the anti-Semitic massacre carried out by a white supremacist at the Tree of Life synagogue in October 2018. "That would NEVER happen. But I guess denying the existence of #LGBTQ people is ok in Florida."
She added that "Governor Rick Scott is a low bar to not meet. Absolutely shameful."

So far, it's unclear why DeSantis' office edited the language, but it's not the first time he's thrown the LGBTQ community under the bus. This past January, LGBTQ-rights groups were furious when DeSantis signed a workplace anti-discrimination order that excluded protections for LGBTQ people.

This is also far from the first time Republican politicians have conveniently forgotten the LGBTQ community when discussing the Pulse shooting. Scott himself was no hero here either: He infamously waited days to bother mentioning the LGBTQ community after the shooting and didn't wear a rainbow remembrance ribbon until 2018, two years after the attack. (State Rep. Carlos G. Smith, who is himself Hispanic and openly gay, wrote in the Orlando Weekly in 2018 that Scott "turned his back on Orlando after Pulse.") Pulse's Hispanic and LGBTQ communities have said they sometimes felt forgotten in the three years since the tragedy: Smith, for example, has consistently hit Scott for expending far more resources and effort in the wake of the Parkland shootings than he did after 49 mostly Hispanic, LGBTQ victims were killed at Pulse.
Last night, just before DeSantis issued his, ahem, updated tweet, Smith also took a veiled whack at DeSantis.

"Orlando's LGBTQ community will never be erased," he tweeted.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.