In the wake of the tragic mass shooting at an Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub that took 49 lives and left 53 wounded early Sunday morning, Republican nominee Donald Trump unleashed a flurry of comments on Twitter and in interviews in which he conflated Syrian refugees with terrorists who he claimed would, motivated by religious sentiment, do massive harm to the LGBT community if allowed to enter the United States. And that's why gay Republican Chris Barron thinks Trump is the most pro-gay presidential candidate.
In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Barron, who used to head the former conservative gay group, GOProud, defended his endorsement of Trump as the better candidate for the LGBT community:
[Sec. Hillary Clinton] can find plenty of time to crucify Christians in the U.S. for perceived anti-gay bias, but when we've got ISIS throwing gay people off of buildings, when we have Muslim states that are prescribing the death penalty for people who are gay, I would think this would be something that a friend of the LGBT community would be able to speak out on, and Hillary Clinton finds it unable to do so.
Trump's tough talk, not just on terrorism, but Muslims specifically, rings more promising to Barron than Clinton's. Barron told CNN that it was precisely Trump's rhetoric following the Orlando shootings that put the candidate in his favor. Here's one example of Trump's ideas on Muslims and the LGBT community, along with his conflation of refugees with terrorists, from a rally Monday night:
Hillary Clinton can never claim to be a friend of the gay community as long as she continues to support immigration policies that bring Islamic extremists to our country who suppress women, gays, and anyone who doesn't share their views. She can't have it both ways.
Unlike Barron, most within the LGBT community are not swayed by Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric. In direct response to Trump's claim that his stance on Muslims makes him more LGBT-friendly than Clinton, the Human Rights Campaign's spokesman, Jay Brown, had the following to say, according to The Washington Times:
What he is peddling isn't protection. It's poison. ... Let's be clear: LGBTQ people are Muslims. We are also Jews and Christians, women and immigrants, people of color, and those living with disabilities. We are as diverse as the fabric of our nation, and Donald Trump's attack on Muslims today is intended to divide us.
CBS News reported that the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights organization in the country, and Equality California have been focusing their response to the Orlando mass shooting on efforts for stricter gun legislation. (Trump has suggested that more guns in the nightclub might have stopped the massacre.)
The Human Rights Campaign's summary of Trump's candidacy is largely negative. As a presidential candidate, Trump said he'd make an effort to revoke protections for same-sex marriage, an issue he has flip-flopped on over the years. His record on anti-discrimination legislation is similarly mixed; for example, he recently said that states should have the right to pass "bathroom bills" like North Carolina's House Bill 2, but back in 2000, he said sexual orientation should be a category federally protected against discrimination.
It's highly unlikely that Trump will perform well among LGBT voters in November, who have expressed widespread disapproval for the candidate. There isn't exactly a ton of polling data out there of LGBT individuals specifically, but one poll from February involving 563 LGBT participants found that only 4 percent thought Trump is the most supportive of LGBT rights among Republican candidates (73 percent said none were supportive), and only 2 percent said they'd vote for Trump if the election were held that day.
Barron's idea that Trump is the most pro-gay candidate out there is certainly not one shared by LGBT rights organizations or voters generally, who refuse the idea that anti-Muslim discrimination will keep them safe, and who acknowledge Trump's mixed record on supporting their rights.