Pro-gun, anti-LGBTQ Rubio refuses to call Pulse nightclub shooting a ‘shooting’

It belies his odious records on both guns and LGBTQ rights.

CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Images
CREDIT: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced a resolution on Tuesday that would honor the victims of the shooting that took place two years ago at Pulse, the Orlando LGBTQ nightclub. But Rubio goofed when he tried to share the resolution on Twitter in a way that shines a light on his terrible records on both guns and LGBTQ issues.

The proposed resolution notes that, at the time, the Pulse attack was “the deadliest mass shooting in the modern history of the United States,” resulting in 49 deaths and several more injured. (That was surpassed this past October by the shooting in Las Vegas.) When Rubio’s official press account first tweeted out the resolution, he referred to “the Pulse nightclub shooting.” But that tweet was very quickly deleted and replaced with a tweet instead referring to the “Pulse nightclub terror attack.” ThinkProgress captured a screenshot:

The change in wording is significant because it reflects the intense scrutiny Rubio has faced for his support for the National Rifle Association (NRA), particularly in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Indeed, Rubio has demonstrated a pattern of responding to calls to end gun violence by opposing gun control and instead defending gun owners.

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At a CNN town hall after the Parkland shooting in February, Rubio looked right in the face of the students who survived that shooting and refused to stop accepting money from the NRA. He also promised to support legislation that would prevent teens from purchasing deadly assault rifles, then refused to make any changes to his own bill that would allow 18-year-olds in Washington, D.C. to do just that. A week later, he introduced a new guns bill that also did nothing to change the age limits for buying assault rifles. When thousands participated in the March for Our Lives in March, Rubio responded by warning that banning guns would infringe on gun-owners’ rights and he even insisted that such bans “ultimately will not prevent these tragedies.”

When Rubio ran for president in 2016, he repeatedly promised that he wouldn’t run for reelection in the Senate if he lost. But the Pulse shooting allegedly gave him the excuse he needed to change his mind, which is why he’s still in office — though he oddly didn’t mention it when he actually announced he was running. It likewise hasn’t been reflected in his tenure since.

The proposed resolution calls for standing together “with all people of the United States, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, or sexual orientation,” which bears no credibility coming from Rubio. Despite supposedly being inspired by the Pulse shooting to continue serving in office, just two months after that tragedy he agreed to speak at an event — in Orlando — sponsored by the Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTQ hate group. And though he claimed the event was simply a “celebration of faith,” much of his remarks were dedicated to defending the discrimination against LGBTQ people he has long stood for.

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He insisted that the marriage between one man and one woman is a “special relationship” that “deserves to be elevated and set apart in our laws.” He also accused “both sides” of “heated rhetoric” and painted LGBTQ people as villains for expecting Christian business owners not to discriminate against them.

Rubio’s past comments on LGBTQ people include saying it should be legal to fire people just for their sexual orientation, that homosexuality is a sin, and that there’s nothing bigoted or hateful about opposing LGBTQ equality. On Monday, he was once again defending Chick-fil-A for continuing to donate large sums of money to anti-LGBTQ organizations.

Nelson, the other name on that proposed resolution, offered a harsh juxtaposition in terms of how to remember the victims of the Pulse tragedy and advocate for safety from gun violence:

The Pulse shooting may have motivated Rubio to stay in office, but it didn’t motivate him to do anything to support LGBTQ people or to protect anybody from gun violence. His unwillingness to even call it a “shooting” only reinforces the reality that he takes no accountability for supporting policies that reinforce intolerance and enable such violence.