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Jim GallowayTamar Hallerman
Greg Bluestein

Note to Republicans: When discussing Orlando massacre, it’s OK to say ‘gay’

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A man sleeps in the early morning hours at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in Orlando. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A man sleeps in the early morning hours at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting at the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts in Orlando. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

James Richardson, now a government affairs guy at Dentons in Atlanta, is a former spokesman and adviser for the Republican National Committee and a few GOP notables. He’s got some advice for Republicans as they talk about the Orlando massacre. It’s more than OK to utter or write the word “gay.” In fact, the situation demands it. From his piece for Time magazine:

The symmetry is startling: just as Republicans of the Reagan era for years took shelter from the subject of AIDS, today’s partisans have notably whitewashed the sexuality of the Orlando victims.logo-all

Say it, damn it: they were gay, and for it they were marked for death by a radical Islamist terrorist. Now, that’s not to say the victims were singularly defined by their sexuality—indeed, they were sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, friends and lovers—but to blur their identity is to willfully disrespect their memory and their fight to live authentically and freely.

Silence is no conservative ethic, and yet it continues to tether our pained present to the shameful stigmas of our past. With sparse exception, many Republicans pointedly refused to utter the word “gay” in the hours that followed the massacre. It was almost as though they feared their own sexual orientation would shift with the utterance—gay!

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Last month, well before the 49 partiers at a gay night club in Orlando were shot dead, U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Augusta, earned headlines and rebukes for opening a private meeting of House Republican caucus members – to discuss Democratic tactics pushing for LGBT protections — by quoting the Bible. Romans I:27, in particular, which declares that homosexuals (and many, many others) are “worthy of death.”

Given this weekend’s attack on an LGBT club in Orlando, does Allen have any regrets? Here’s what the Republican had to say when we caught up with him on Capitol Hill:

“There’s no connection with my Scripture reading or this event. Here’s the deal: When you hurt an American, you hurt every American. We’re all together in this. It’s like this: I’m not perfect, we all fall short of the glory of God, and that’s why we’ve got to have a savior, and only through that can we deal with this stuff. It’s tough, very difficult.”

“Scripture is Scripture. It’s what I read that I felt like at the time we needed to hear as a Republican conference in dealing with all of these issues that are being thrown at us as far as the problems in this culture. I mean parents are worried about their children. It’s tough, particularly in this job when you’re out meeting with all these groups of people and they’re concerned.”

But he didn’t say “gay.”

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Of course, there are those who express no empathy whatsoever.

According to the Florida Times-Union:

A Brunswick, Ga., pastor who helped lead the fight against expanding Jacksonville’s anti-discrimination law tweeted after the mass shooting in Orlando that homosexuals got “what they deserve.”

Mayor Lenny Curry condemned the comment by Pastor Kenneth Adkins, who served as a panelist on one of the community forums Curry convened in December about adding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to the city’s anti-discrimination law….

Adkins’ tweet said: “been through so much with these Jacksonville homosexuals that I don’t see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!”

And over at ajc.com:

A Cobb County man who allegedly called the Orlando shootings an act of “community service” in a Twitter post is no longer employed by Wal-Mart, the retail giant posted on its own Twitter page.

The Marietta man, whose real identity is not known, uses the Twitter handle @IWillTryLater and wears a Wal-Mart vest in a profile picture, but has changed his posts to private since a Sunday post. At least two Twitter users sent the offensive post to Wal-Mart’s corporate page.

And then we have the Rev. Pat Robertson of Virginia, who on his “700 Club” program noted that he has no dog in any fight between Islamic extremists and the LGBT crowd. Said Robertson:

“The left is having a dilemma of major proportions and I think for those of us who disagree with some of their policies, the best thing to do is to sit on the sidelines and let them kill themselves.”

***

Below is a sneak peek at the sponsors of this morning’s Donald Trump fundraiser in Buckhead.

Note that U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s name is still on the list even though he’s a no-show. Another late addition: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who has been much more lukewarm about the candidate than his Senate comrade.

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This morning’s Donald Trump rally at the Fox Theatre will probably draw every political reporter within a 10-mile radius to Trump’s media pen. Reporters are required to be there at 11:30, and will be held captive there until The Donald has left the building. That doesn’t bode well for Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, who plans to formally enter the 2017 race for mayor at 11 a.m. at Hurt Plaza.

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trumpspink

An early morning Donald Trump fan arrives early at the Fox Theatre for a noon Donald Trump rally. Atlanta police are blocking off Peachtree Street from Ponce de Leon Avenue to Third Street to accommodate the event and protesters. John Spink, jspink@ajc.com

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President Barack Obama needs to “stop pussyfooting around, get a sense of urgency and declare war” on “radical Islamic terrorism,” said U.S. Rep. David Scott.

The Atlanta Democrat on Tuesday was unusually critical of Obama’s strategy following terrorist attacks in the Middle East and domestically in Orlando and San Bernardino.

“They take this president’s kindness for weakness. That’s why we’re in this shape,” Scott said about the Islamic State and its allies.

Scott, a moderate Democrat who often tacks further to the right than most in the party on foreign policy issues, said he would like to see Obama send a new request for the authorization of military force to Congress. He said lawmakers then need to declare war and send ground troops to the Middle East.

Scott said that needs to be paired with a domestic effort to work with mosque leaders to stamp out any local radicalization, given that the shooters in recent attacks in Orlando, San Bernardino and Texas were all Muslim.

“This ain’t a war against Muslims, but the Muslim community has got to step up,” he said. “Too many of these connections are connected to mosques.”

Scott’s remarks came in an interview following a classified briefing on Capitol Hill from FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and National Counterterrorism Center Director Nick Rasmussen on the Orlando attack. Senators will receive a similar briefing today.

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Ninety-four to three. That was the tally on the U.S. Senate vote yesterday afternoon to kick off debate on a 2017 spending bill for science agencies and the Justice and Commerce departments.

Two of those nays belonged to Georgia U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue. The pair is protesting language in a sidecar to the bill that they say could hurt the state’s long-running water rights battle with Alabama and Florida.

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We present to you this gem of a dispatch from yesterday, when lawmakers posed for their annual official photograph: