Controversy Stirs Over Ron DeSantis’ Effort to Honor Pulse Anniversary

As the state and nation pause to remember the 49 people slaughtered in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub in 2016, politics is seeping its way into the solemn duty of honoring those victims.

While it is no longer publicly available, the Orlando Weekly captured this image of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proclamation to remember Pulse, pointing out that it did not make any mention of the LGBT community.

State Rep. Anna Eskamani, D – Orlando, whose district includes Pulse, took notice right away and ripped into DeSantis.

“Advocacy matters,” she said. “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.”

Perhaps the governor did realize this, because within hours, he made a new Tweet referencing both the Hispanic and the LBGT communities targeted in that terrorist attack. He put out a press release as well with a corrected proclamation making it clear the gay and Hispanic communities would be remembered as victims in the attack.

Eskamani had mixed thoughts on the correction and still wants legislative action for the gay community.

“I appreciate the corrected Pulse proclamation reissued by Governor Ron DeSantis that mentions LGBTQ people and Latinx communities,” she said. “It’s a step in the right direction but now is the time for real policy change to reflect our state’s commitment to equality: the governor should pass an executive order to provide protections to LGBTQ state workers this month and push the legislature to pass the Competitive Workforce Act during the 2020 legislative session. Actions speak louder than words and Florida’s LGBTQ community deserve more than just a corrected proclamation.”

As for the governor, he has made it clear in words that he respects the LBGT community and, hoping to ensure the event was not about politics, he visited the Pulse Memorial site in private, two hours before the ceremony to honor the victims.

Democrats and Republicans alike lined up in Congress today to honor the 49 lives lost in the shooting.

Florida’s two U.S. senators passed a resolution honoring the 49 victims. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., took to the Senate floor to give a short speech.

”On June 12, 2016, our state was attacked,” Scott said. “49 innocent and beautiful lives were senselessly lost and the lives of countless families and loved ones were forever changed. The attack – an attack on America, our state, the city of Orlando, our Hispanic and gay communities – was a terrorist attack. This act of terrorism was an attempt to rip at the seams of our society, to divide us and to instill fear in our hearts.”

U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., used the anniversary to call for further gun control.

“The memories of those who died live on in our hearts and we will continue to tell their stories. They will not be defined by their tragic deaths through gun violence but by the lives they lived, the people they touched and the love they gave. I believe as I did then that Orlando is strong, and that we can weather any storm, so long as we do it together. I believe that together, we can build a community where no survivor is left behind, and where we, as a nation, make gun violence reduction a top priority,” she said.

Gun control has been a hot topic on this third anniversary of the Pulse nightclub terror attack. For the group Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, it was a day to fundraise, as the group out emails from survivors asking for help to continue working towards restrictions on assault weapons like the one used in the attack. The Political Action Committee (PAC) asked for people to give $49 to continue the fight for the 49 victims.

 

Reach Mike Synan at mike.synan@floridadaily.com.

 

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