DeSantis Updates Pulse Proclamation to Include LGBTQ

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that a staff error was to blame for omitting any citation of the “LGBTQ” and “Hispanic” communities from his initial official Pulse Remembrance Proclamation.

“I was not involved in the proclamation. When someone said it wasn’t in there, I said ‘put it in there’, so we fixed it,” DeSantis said Wednesday in Jacksonville. “Sometimes these things happen, and you just have to correct it.”

DeSantis reiterated that point when asked late Wendesday afternoon as he and first lady Casey DeSantis visited Pulse in Orlando to pay tribute. He’s the first sitting governor to visit the Pulse Memorial on Rememberance Day.

The couple placed flowers at the site, signed their names on a memorial wall, and toured the photos of the tragedy posted on walls surrounding the nightclub turned memorial. 

State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D-Orlando) first called on the Governor Tuesday night to revise the Proclamation after seeing the specific citations missing.

“No matter how you want to paint the motive of the shooter, we know the directly impacted communities were LGBTQ Floridians who were mostly brown and black, and if you deny that, you’re erasing what actually happened at the nightclub called Pulse,” Eskamani said.

Many on social media joined Eskamani in calling out the Governor, many who pointed to then Gov. Rick Scott’s previously proclamation in 2018, which did include mentions of the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.

“Advocacy matters, and it becomes very clear if we don’t call out our politicians for their actions they will continue to live comfortably, denying the identification and existence of individuals who are different from them,” Eskamani said.

Former Gov. Rick Scott has faced his fair share of backlash from the LGBTQ community for failing to push for expanded protections and avoiding even saying the word “gay” in the early days after the attack.

Now a Senator, Rick Scott took to the floor of the U.S. Senate Wednesday to announce a joint Pulse Remembrance Proclamation with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. That federal proclamation and the Senator’s tweets did include specific reference to the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.

“Especially for LGBTQ youth, when they see politicians on the news, and they’re reaffirming and say words likeLGBTQ” or “gay” or “transgender,” they’re growing up in a society. I didn’t get that, and I think that’s life changing,” said George Wallace, Executive Director of the LGBT+ Center.

In releasing a revised proclamation Wednesday, the Governor’s Office said he stands in solidarity with Florida’s LGBTQ and Hispanic communities.

“Today we mourn the loss of life of 49 innocent victims of an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando that targeted the LGBTQ and Hispanic community, and Florida as a whole,” DeSantis wrote in a Wednesday morning tweet. “In honor of their memory, I am ordering flags to be lowered to half-staff.”

The Governor later sent out a tweet in the afternoon announcing he had ordered the Pulse Remembrance Day proclamation to be “…corrected and re-issued to include a direct reference to our LGBTQ and Hispanic communities who were attacked during this horrific act of violence.”

Advocates say words can mean progress, but action makes a difference.

“The whole movement of gay rights is relatively new in the United State, and we’re not pushing anything down anyone’s throat; I don’t think equal rights are special rights,” Wallace said.

While the Governor’s Office says he stands in solidarity with the state’s LGBTQ community, others say he has failed to take action to show it.

“There are tangible actions our Governor can take – and he has been asked to take more than once since starting his administration to demonstrate support with the LGBTQ community,” Eskamani said.

One of the first executive orders DeSantis signed when he entered office was a workplace protection order, but it did not include specific protections for those who are LGBTQ. ​

The Governor ignored repeated questions Wednesday when asked if he would at any point extend protections for the LGBTQ community. 

A spokeswoman for DeSantis told Spectrum News they had no statement on the matter at this time. 

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