ORLANDO, Fla. — Donald Trump has repulsed gay voters to the point where they don’t want anybody associated with the GOP presidential nominee visiting the memorial outside the Pulse nightclub, the scene of the most deadly terror attack and most deadly anti-gay violence in U.S. history.
The ill will extended to surrogates on the Women for Trump tour — daughter-in-law Laura Trump, “The Apprentice” star Omarosa Manigault, Trump Organization executive Lynn and YouTube sensations Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson — when they climbed off a campaign motorcoach at an unscheduled stop at the memorial to pay their respects.
Gay-rights activist Carlos Guillermo Smith, who was standing nearby when they arrived, was livid.
“I just hope there is a lot of reflection in the Trump campaign about their response to this tragedy,” he said. “The Trump campaign in its entirety is a campaign based on hate, racism and bigotry.”
The antagonism toward the campaign underscore the abysmal failure of Mr. Trump’s appeal for support from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) voters after the June terror strike at Pulse, when he promised that his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. would protect them from radical Islamic terrorists who target homosexuals.
“His call to action immediately after the shooting that LGBT Floridians needed to turn against our Muslim brothers and sisters, and join him — it’s hate mongering and fear mongering, and he should be ashamed of himself,” said Mr. Smith, a Democrat running for the state House of Representatives.
Mr. Trump lost more LGBT votes with his pledge to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn same-sex marriage. His pick of running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence further alienated LGBT voters, who view him as a social conservative with an anti-gay agenda.
Mr. Pence made national headlines last year when he signed a “religious freedom” law that the LGBT community said would sanction discrimination against them. Previously, he advocated spending federal dollars on conversion therapy for homosexuals and he opposed the repeal of don’t ask don’t tell.
The backlash against Mr. Trump has benefited Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who has had difficult relationship with gay voters, having waited until last year to support same-sex marriage and having supported husband President Bill Clinton’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy for gays in the military.
For many LGBT voters, she’s become their only viable choice.
“That [gay-rights] issue alone gives me no option but to vote for Hillary,” said Angel Santiago, a Pulse survivor who was shot twice in the leg.
He supported Sen. Bernard Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary and then reluctantly got behind Mrs. Clinton.
“In terms of gay rights we’ve made a lot of progress over the last eight years and having Donald Trump as president would jeopardize the progress we have made,” he said.
Mrs. Clinton gave a shout out to the LGBT community in a speech Thursday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, calling for the acceptance of gay people by society.
“They are loved just as they are,” Mrs. Clinton said.
At Pulse, which has been closed since the attack, the Trump female surrogates laid a wreath and bouquets of flowers at the makeshift memorial to the 49 people slaughtered in June by gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS.
The women also wrote messages on the canvas-draped fence surrounding the building that is covered with handwritten remembrances for the victims and pleas for peace.
After the women left, a message written on a large heart-shaped drawing on the canvas read: “You will forever be in our hearts, love from NYC.”“