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How Politicians Helped Create a Climate of Hate for LGBT People

Sue Sturgis

 by Facing South

Number of people killed in the June 12 massacre at Pulse, an LGBT dance club in Orlando, Florida, by a man who reportedly expressed animus toward LGBT people and who may have been a gay or bisexual person himself: 49

Number of people injured in the shooting, which took place on the club's Latin-themed night and whose victims were overwhelmingly Latino: more than 50

Rank of LGBT people among various minority groups most likely to be the targets of a hate crime, with transgender women of color at greatest risk: 1

Number of hate crimes reported nationally in 2014 that targeted people based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a figure that's likely an underestimate as it's based on local, non-mandatory reporting: 1,100

Number of anti-LGBT bills introduced in state legislatures last year, sparking rhetoric that demonizes LGBT people, portrays them as predators, and accuses them of threatening other people's civil rights: 125

Number of anti-LGBT bills introduced this year: about 200

Of the 12 states The Advocate recently named most anti-LGBT because of legislation introduced, number that are in the South: 7

Months before tweeting his condolences to the Orlando shooting victims' families that North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law House Bill 2, the state's controversial anti-LGBT "bathroom law" passed to nullify a transgender anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte along with all local anti-discrimination and minimum-wage ordinances across the state: less than 3

Days following the Orlando shooting that the North Carolina Values Coalition — a group that opposes expanding LGBT rights and whose executive director led the 2012 effort to pass a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court — joined with dozens of Latino ministers for a press conference to defend House Bill 2: 2

Date on which McCrory attended a prayer rally organized by a far-right Christian group and allowed its leader to lay hands on him while saying the U.S. is a "lost country" that "deserves judgment" for, among other things, "homosexuals praying at the inauguration" of President Obama: 9/26/2015

Date on which McCrory issued an executive order to protect state workers from discrimination but which excluded protections for LGBT people: 6/30/2014

Months before tweeting that flags at state buildings would fly at half-mast in memory of the Orlando shooting victims that Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) signed into law a bill allowing therapists to discriminate against gay clients: almost 2

Years before former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) tweeted his condolences to the Orlando victims and their families that he called homosexuality "an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle": 14

Month in which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump — who blamed the Orlando massacre on "radical Islam" and called for banning Muslims from entering the U.S. even though the shooter was born in New York City — appointed as his "liaison for Christian policy" Frank Amedia, who has called AIDS a "disease that comes because of unnatural sex": 5/2016

When the Republican National Committee released its initial statement on the Orlando massacre, number of sentences that vaguely acknowledged the violence was committed against a group of people because of their "orientation": 1

When the statement was revised a day later, number of sentences that acknowledged why the club's patrons were targeted: 0

Number of days after the Orlando massacre that U.S. House Republicans blocked a vote on an amendment reintroduced in the tragedy's wake that would have prohibited federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers, despite the sponsor's argument that allowing the vote would have demonstrated solidarity with the LGBT community: 2

Number of states that have anti-discrimination laws in place protecting LGBT people in the workplace: 18

Number of those states that are in the South: 0

© 2021 Institute for Southern Studies
Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis

Sue Sturgis is the Director and regular contributor to the Institute for Southern Study's online magazine, Facing South, with a focus on energy and environmental issues. Sue is the author or co-author of five Institute reports, including Faith in the Gulf (Aug/Sept 2008), Hurricane Katrina and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (January 2008) and Blueprint for Gulf Renewal (Aug/Sept 2007). Sue holds a Masters in Journalism from New York University.

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