—Celia Ruiz, sister of Pulse nightclub victim Juan Ramon Guerrero, while protesting the appearances of Republican nominee Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at a conference of religious leaders, many of whom are known for their stringently anti-LGBT opinions.
Ruiz told the Orlando Sentinel that she believes the conference “promotes hate and intolerance to the LGBT people.”
Several protesters help up signs or waved rainbow flags, while others held up photos of those killed in the Pulse mass shooting. Other protesters pointed out that Friday marked the two-month anniversary of the Pulse shooting, which made Trump and Rubio — as well as the conference attendees — seem particularly insensitive.
Both Trump and Rubio came under fire from major LGBT organizations, as well as Democratic or left-leaning groups, for choosing to address the attendees. The list of other scheduled speakers reads like a “Who’s Who?” of people associated with the Religious Right who have made disparaging or bigoted comments about the LGBT community in the past.
“This conference and all of its speakers are fueling the fires of homegrown bigotry,” said Equality Florida’s Carlos Guillermo Smith. “It’s a bigotry that dehumanizes LGBT people and paves the way for discrimination and violence.”
Several LGBT-affirming and -supportive clergy members also attended the protest to show their support for the LGBT community writ large.
“The people meeting today with Mr. Trump inside the convention center do no represent all of the church, or all of the American faith community,” Rev. Terri Pierce, of Orlando’s Joy Metropolitan Community Church, told the Sentinel.
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