State Politics

Governor’s proclamation on Pulse anniversary omitted LGBTQ reference. Then he fixed it.

Photos and keepsakes adorn the Pulse Interim Memorial located at the Pulse nightclub site south of downtown Orlando, Thursday, June 6, 2019. June 12 marks the 3rd anniversary of the mass shooting that left 49 club patrons dead.
Photos and keepsakes adorn the Pulse Interim Memorial located at the Pulse nightclub site south of downtown Orlando, Thursday, June 6, 2019. June 12 marks the 3rd anniversary of the mass shooting that left 49 club patrons dead. Orlando Sentinel/TNS

On the third anniversary of the shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, which left 49 people dead, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did not mention the LGBTQ community in his initial proclamation commemorating the day.

“The state of Florida has come together to stand boldly with Orlando and the Central Florida community against terrorism,” the proclamation released Tuesday evening read, in part.

That sentence was in the portion of the document where last year, then-Gov. Rick Scott had stated: “The state of Florida continues to ... recognize the lasting impact [the shooting] has on our state and communities, including Florida’s LGBTQ community.”

Proclamations by the governor are used to commemorate days of remembrance and ask that flags be flown at half-staff.

After DeSantis’ proclamation was issued Tuesday evening, state Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, took to social media to call the omission “shameful.” The Pulse nightclub is in her district and a photo of Eskamani rests on the makeshift memorial at the nightclub, near bullet holes in the building.

“Imagine if the mayor of Pittsburgh didn’t talk about the Jewish community in a proclamation about the synagogue shooting,” she tweeted Tuesday night, along with a side-by-side comparison of DeSantis’ proclamation versus Scott’s. “That would NEVER happen. But I guess denying the existence of LGBTQ people is OK in Florida.”

But after a Wednesday morning tweet that specifically mentioned the affected communities, around 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, DeSantis’ office also issued a “corrected” version of the proclamation.

“The state of Florida will not tolerate hatred towards the LGBTQ and Hispanic communities,” the added segment read.

Helen Aguirre Ferré, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, said “staff made an error in the previous version” and it had been updated at the governor’s direction.

DeSantis is scheduled to visit the Pulse memorial at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Eskamani took the change of wording as a sign that the criticism got through, tweeting that “advocacy matters,” but asking for more protections for LGBTQ people in the long run.

Miami Herald reporter Samantha J. Gross contributed to this report.

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