Holding a conference of pastors who have have fought against civil rights for LGBTQ people in Orlando just two months after dozens were killed at a gay nightclub in the city is a pretty bad look for most people—but not for Donald Trump.
Trump was the headline speaker at an American Renewal Project event in Orlando on Thursday, putting him alongside a who's who of religious anti-LGBTQ activists.
The project was founded by David Lane, a political activist who has helped organize campaigns opposed to same-sex marriage in multiple states. Other speakers include David Barton, who has said HIV/AIDS is God's way of punishing gay people; Ken Graves, a Maine pastor who believes gay families are incapable of being happy and Mat Staver, whose Liberty Counsel has helped promote anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures around the country.
Trump—whose supposed tolerance on LGBTQ issues has been used as a selling point—didn't speak up for civil rights during his speech. Nor did he address the virulent bigotry of the crowd he was talking to, preferring instead to talk about his floundering campaign.
"[We're] having a tremendous problem in Utah. Utah’s a different place and I don’t know, is anybody here from Utah?… I didn’t think so. We’re having a problem," Trump said, referring to polls that showed him and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were close in the typically-Republican state.
A group of protesters, featuring a mix of local religious leaders and gay-rights activists, turned out to protest the conference, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Among the protesters was Celia Ruiz, whose brother Juan Ramon Guerrero was killed during the June 12 shooting at the Orlando Pulse nightclub that left 49 dead.
"This is a slap in the face to me, to my family, to the 49 other families, to the 53 survivors, to all of the people that were there [and] to the Orlando community," Ruiz told the Sentinel.
Former presidential candidate Marco Rubio, attended the event too, because what better way to show your constituents you're concerned about violence against LGBTQ people in your state? Maybe he just missed playing second fiddle to Trump.