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LGBT groups condemn white nationalist rally in Charlottesville

By Michael K. Lavers

August 12, 2017

LGBT rights groups are among those who have condemned a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday that descended into violence.

“Everyday we partner with people and organizations across the state to make Virginia a more inclusive place where all can thrive,” Equality Virginia Executive Director James Parrish told the Washington Blade in a statement. “Through sharing our stories, listening to intersectional voices, and working for fairness we strive for a more equal commonwealth. Intimidating communities with taunts and violence has no place here. Anyone who doesn’t strongly condemn the Unite for the Right rally is complicit in supporting this dangerous and racist agenda.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin on Twitter wrote “hate and bigotry on display in Charlottesville must be challenged wherever it rears its ugly head.”

Hate & bigotry on display in #Charlottesviille must be challenged wherever it rears its ugly head. This is not us. America is not this. — Chad Griffin (@ChadHGriffin) August 12, 2017

Danica Roem, a transgender woman who is running against Virginia state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County), issued a short statement in which she said, “get that neo-Nazi white supremacy BS out of our commonwealth.”

The Associated Press reported one person died and 19 others were injured on Saturday when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters in downtown Charlottesville. Two Virginia State Police officers died a few hours later when their helicopter crashed outside the city.

White nationalists and counter-protesters clashed throughout the day in the city in which the University of Virginia is located. Reports indicate some of the white nationalists shouted anti-gay slurs as they marched through Charlottesville.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” President Trump told reporters during a press conference at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J. “It’s been going on for a long time in this country.”

Trump also called for a “swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives” in Charlottesville. Griffin on Twitter said Trump has “emboldened this ugly hate and bigotry.”

“The violence we are witnessing is horrifying, but is merely the latest manifestation of the growing racist, anti-immigration, anti-Semitic, sexist and anti-LGBTQ hate in our midst,” said Stacey Long Simmons, director of the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Advocacy and Action Department, in a statement. “The continuing escalation of hate and white nationalist sentiment we are experiencing during the Trump administration has come to this — targeted violence in the streets of Virginia led by the Klu Klux Klan and neo-Nazi organizations.”

Vice President Pence, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock and former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie are among those who have publicly condemned the white nationalists.

“Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts,” said first lady Melania Trump in a tweet. “No good comes from violence.”

Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence. #Charlottesville — Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) August 12, 2017

Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo in a statement to the Blade applauded Trump’s response to the violence.

“Log Cabin Republicans stands with and echoes our president and his forceful statement today: All Americans must unite in condemnation of hate, regardless of our background, regardless of our political affiliation,” said Angelo.

Hundreds of white nationalists on Friday who marched through the University of Virginia campus with torches clashed with counter-protesters. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Saturday declared a state of emergency in Charlottesville.

“Sad note to leave the East Coast today after such a great week with all this racism in my hometown area,” wrote Troy Elmore, a gay man who grew up in Stuarts Draft, which is roughly 25 miles west of Charlottesville, on his Facebook page on Saturday. “And of course this idiot of a president is silent. He is a worthless piece of garbage. This Nazi-style protest should have been condemned immediately.”

Hunter T. Carter, a New York-based lawyer who works to advance marriage rights for same-sex couples in Latin America, is a University of Virginia alum. He told the Blade on Saturday that he is “proud of my university and disgusted by what’s happening in Charlottesville.”

“I’m in Canada at the moment and this is hard to explain,” said Carter.