- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Donald Trump’s appeal for support from LBGT voters after the Orlando terrorist attack fell flat with gay rights activists, who said his vows to protect them from homophobic Islamic terrorists were just more of the divisive and bigoted rhetoric they have come to expect from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Mr. Trump used horrific bloodshed in Orlando to try to split the Democratic coalition, saying welcoming Muslims with oppressive views on sexuality cannot be squared with the liberal values of American society.

But his appeal was rebuffed on all accounts.

“What he is peddling isn’t protection. It’s poison,” said Jay Brown, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay rights organization.

Mr. Brown and other gay rights activists said all minority groups have to stick together in opposition to Mr. Trump.

“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,” Mr. Brown said. “We are as diverse as the fabric of our nation, and Donald Trump’s attack on Muslims today is intended to divide us.”

Michael Farmer, deputy development director of the LBGT advocacy group Equality Florida, said gay voters can’t trust Mr. Trump.

“If you’re somebody who holds bigoted views about one minority, who’s to say that you won’t hold them about another minority?” he said. “Folks who deal with these issues, people in minority communities, have got to stand together. Muslims, gay people, African-Americans have got to stand against the disgusting views that Donald Trump holds.”

Mr. Farmer said a friend from college, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, was among the 49 people killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando by a gunman who swore allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group, also known as ISIS.

The Trump campaign did not respond to questions about the reactions of leaders in gay communities.

The billionaire businessman reached out to gay voters with his plan to temporarily end immigration from terrorist breeding grounds. His stance contrasted with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s support for more open immigration policies.

“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 and who suppress women, gays and anyone who doesn’t share their views or values,” he said. “Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community: Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words? I will tell you who the better friend is, and someday I believe that will be proven out bigly.”

Mrs. Clinton called Mr. Trump’s plan to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country “un-American.”

“He’s turning Americans against Americans, which is exactly what ISIS wants,” Mrs. Clinton said in a speech Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

President Obama also described Mr. Trump’s proposal as discriminatory.

“Where does this stop? The Orlando killer, one of the San Bernardino killers, the Fort Hood killer, they were all U.S. citizens,” Mr. Obama said. “Are we going to start treating Muslims who live here differently?”

LBGT leaders said that beyond the implications of cracking down on Muslim travel to the U.S., Mr. Trump has the wrong position on nearly every gay rights issue.

“He does not support same-sex marriage, he does not support nondiscrimination protections, and in the face of the greatest tragedy that the LBGT community has faced in a long time, his first reaction was to gloat,” said North Carolina state Rep. Chris Sgro, who also serves as executive director of the gay rights group Equality NC.

“Donald Trump is dangerous for LGBT North Carolinians, for LGBT Americans and for our country, and we will reject him resoundingly in November,” Mr. Sgro said.

The Greensboro Democrat said Mr. Trump’s early opposition to North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law, which mandates that people use restrooms associated with their biological gender, did not endear him to gay voters in that battleground state.

Mr. Trump said the law was bad for business after major businesses and entertainers began to boycott North Carolina. But under pressure from conservatives, he backed off that position and said it was a matter best left for individual states to decide.

“Donald Trump has clearly been all over the place on every issue in the course of his political and business career. What is clear is that he is a misogynist and a homophobe, and he should not be president of the United States,” Mr. Sgro said.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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