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The LGBT community is enraged that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at a conservative gathering of anti-LGBT faith leaders today. The conference takes place in Orlando, near the memorial site for the 49 LGBT lives lost in the Pulse shootings, on the two-month anniversary of the tragedy.
At the “Pews and Pastors” meeting organized by the conservative anti-LGBT evangelical group American Renewal Project, Trump plans to advocate for repealing the Johnson Amendment—a 1954 law banning clergy from endorsing political candidates.
But American Renewal Project founder David Lane told Bloomberg that he hopes to pivot Trump away from a singular focus on the Johnson Amendment and toward the “religious freedom” rights of Christian business owners to discriminate against and turn away LGBT customers.
“But what about the religious liberty of Christian photographers, Christian bakers, Christian retreat centers, and pastors who believe same-sex intercourse and marriage is sin? These Christians were simply living out their deeply held convictions of their Christian faith when they politely refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding,” Lane told Bloomberg on Tuesday.
Lane referred to the LGBT rights movement as “homosexual totalitarianism” and said that “militants are trying to herd Christians there.”
The two-day conference in Orlando first drew fire from LGBT advocates after it announced that Marco Rubio would be speaking there. Now, LGBT advocates are expressing their outrage at the GOP nom’s decision to meet with the conservative evangelicals on the Orlando massacre anniversary.
1) I’m SO upset that Trump is speaking at an anti-LGBT gathering in Orlando two months after the horrific and unthinkable tragedy at Pulse.
— Raymond Braun (@raymondbraun) August 10, 2016
In response to the multiple politicians attending the conference, state and Orlando-based LGBT advocacy groups will protest on Thursday.
According to a press release, the Rally to End Hate #ForThe49 will take place on the steps of the Orange County Convention Center, where speakers from PFLAG, Equality Florida, the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, and more will “demand an end to the hate and violence perpetuated by Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, and the religious extremists responsible for the event.”
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.