Advocates blasted Gov. Rick Scott for failing to mention the LGBT community in his State of the State address, despite dedicating a significant portion of his comments on the June shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“We heard about the horror that our state has experienced; we heard about the heroism from first responders and ordinary Floridians, and we heard about the pain of the families who lost loved ones,” said Hannah Willard, the public policy director for Equality Florida, during a news conference after Scott’s State of the State address.
“What we didn’t hear was any mention of the LGBT community. We didn’t hear … that the attack was a direct attack on LGBTQ Floridians in a nightclub in Orlando,” she continued. “Thoughts and prayers are not enough; we demand action. The LGBT community deserves action from our elected officials.”
Forty-nine people were killed, and dozens of others wounded, in a June shooting at an Orlando nightclub. The attack was the deadlines mass shooting the U.S. since Virginia Tech in 2007.
Scott spent days on end in the Orlando area, meeting with families and first responders. And the incident was featured heavily in his State of the State address.
“The days I spent in Orlando following the shooting will always be with me. I talked to many parents who lost their children,” he said in prepared remarks. “The hardest thing I have ever had to do as Governor is try to find the words to console a parent who lost their child, and I truly cannot imagine the grief of losing a child.”
Prepared remarks show the governor made no direct mention of the LGBT community in his speech.
“He called it a terrorist attack,” said Sen. Gary Farmer. “He had the audacity to not once mention the LGBT community that was so torn apart and was the target of a madman.”
Willard called on the Legislature to take action this year to pass the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, saying the law was needed “more than ever before.”
“This piece of legislation has been introduced for almost a decade … and it does something very simple. It would add LGBT people to existing protections into our state, to make sure that no one faces discrimination in employment, in housing or in public spaces,” she said. “Every single Floridians deserved to be treated fairly under the law, no matter who they are and who they love.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.