October 28, 2016 at 3:31 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Mayor Dyer: Trump ‘antithesis of what Orlando is all about’
Buddy Dyer, gay news, Washington Blade

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer speaks at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 5, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer on Thursday sharply criticized Donald Trump during a telephone interview with the Washington Blade.

“Donald Trump’s positions on everything are the antithesis of what Orlando is all about,” said Dyer.

Dyer spoke with the Blade less than five months after a gunman who lived in Port St. Lucie, Fla., killed 49 people and wounded 53 others inside the Pulse nightclub that is less than two miles south of Orlando City Hall.

The gunman, who was born in New York City to Afghan parents, pledged his allegiance to the leader of the so-called Islamic State in a 911 call he made from inside the gay nightclub that was holding its weekly Latino party at the time of the shooting. Trump in the days after the June 12 massacre — which is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history — reiterated his calls to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

“We don’t hold it against the Muslim community that (the gunman) was a bad actor,” said Dyer, noting Muslims stood alongside LGBT advocates and others who condemned the massacre.

Dyer further accused Trump of “promoting hate.”

“We’re promoting love,” said Dyer.

A Trump campaign spokesperson did not return the Blade’s request for comment.

Two women hold candles outside the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando, Fla., on June 13, 2016, during a memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Two women hold candles outside the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Orlando, Fla., on June 13, 2016, during a memorial to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Dyer said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) didn’t “help himself” by speaking at an anti-LGBT conference that took place at an Orlando hotel in August.

The Cuban-American Republican who ended his presidential campaign earlier this year announced he would seek re-election two weeks after the massacre. Dyer accused Rubio of “publicizing” his campaign at the Pulse nightclub.

A Rubio campaign spokesperson did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Dyer said Florida Gov. Rick Scott responded to the Pulse nightclub massacre “in a way that a governor should,” even though activists criticized him for not publicly acknowledging its LGBT victims. Dyer categorized state Attorney General Pam Bondi’s statements about protecting LGBT Floridians from violence as “hypocritical” because she opposed the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples in the state.

Bondi has been married three times.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mayor Dyer and everyone who responded to help the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting,” she said in a statement that her office sent to the Blade on Thursday. “My office continues to assist those harmed in this horrific attack.”

Bondi, Scott and Rubio have all endorsed Trump. Dyer supports Hillary Clinton.

Equality Florida, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, and the Human Rights Campaign are among the organizations that backed gun control efforts in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre. Dyer told the Blade he has “been very careful not to politicize” the shooting.

“It would hinder what I need to do in heeling our community,” he said.

‘We’re dealing with myriad issues’

Dyer spoke to the Blade a day before President Obama was scheduled to travel to Orlando.

The Orlando Magic on Wednesday honored the Pulse nightclub massacre victims at their home opener. A large mural that has been painted on the building in which the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida is located and banners with “Orlando Strong” and “Orlando United” on them are among the tributes that are now located throughout the city.

Barack Obama, Orlando, gay news, Washington Blade

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, third from left, hands President Barack Obama an #OrlandoUnited T-shirt on the tarmac at Orlando International Airport in Orlando, Fla., on June 16, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The OneOrlando Fund, which Dyer created after the shooting, raised $29.5 million for the victims and their families and loved ones. This figure includes more than $9.5 million that Equality Florida, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, raised through a GoFundMe campaign it launched hours after the massacre.

The fund has distributed the money to the families of those who died inside the nightclub and those who survived the massacre. Dyer told the Blade the city is working to mediate a handful of unresolved claims among family members who cannot agree on how to distribute the funds.

These cases would move into probate court if mediation efforts fail.

“We are hopeful,” said Dyer.

Orlando Health, which operates the Orlando Regional Medical Center that is located a few blocks north of the Pulse nightclub, and Florida Hospital announced in August they will not bill those they treated after the massacre.

Dyer told the Blade his administration continues to respond to the physical and psychological needs of first responders, city employees and others who responded to the Pulse nightclub and provided assistance to the victims’ families and loved ones and those who survived the massacre. The city also continues to respond to requests about releasing 911 calls from those who were inside the nightclub when the gunman opened fire.

Hurricane Matthew prompted organizers of the annual Orlando Pride festival to postpone the event that had been scheduled to take place in Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando on Oct. 8. The festival is slated to take place on Nov. 12, which is five months to the day after the massacre.

Artists last week unveiled a new mural that was made behind a memorial fence that now surrounds Pulse. Dyer has previously said he supports a permanent memorial to the victims at the nightclub.

“The national press has moved on, but we’re dealing with myriad issues,” Dyer told the Blade.

Pulse massacre ‘darkest day’ in Orlando’s history

Dyer earlier this month described the Pulse nightclub massacre as the “darkest day” in his city’s history when he spoke at the opening of the 2016 Out & Equal Workplace Summit that took place at Walt Disney World. He also said he called his 26-year-old son to make sure he was safe after he learned about the shooting from Deputy Orlando Police Chief Robert Anzueto.

“I didn’t know if he had ever been to Pulse; but it was a club that was welcoming to everyone, gay, straight or anything else for that matter,” said Dyer. “He was safely in bed and allowed me to go do everything that I needed to do.”

Dyer told the Blade on Thursday that his city “was able to respond” to the massacre “with love and compassion and unity.”

“We probably have a bit of a mission in the world to show what a community can do and what a community can show in response to tragedy,” he said.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

14 Comments
  • True and devout Muslims hate gays. Their religion commands death to homosexuals. Mohammed himself commanded
    “If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.” Mohammed also said “War is deceit.” Think about that the next time you see some teary-eyed, candle-holding head bagger proclaiming “lslam is peace.”

    • I have a Muslim friend. I’ve known him for years. He attends a gay social group, and when he lives in Sacramento, he’s active in the gay community center. He has never attempted killing anyone. My theory is that he’s just a nice guy.

      • I am sure he is a “nice guy” but if he truly rejects the hate and violence (jihad) commanded by his religion, he is about as much a true Muslim as I eating Hostess cupcakes daily and going to the gym twice a month is a dedicated fitness buff.

        • That’s unkind. It isn’t so much his religion as it is his background. He’s not observant. He is also schizophrenic, so life is hard enough for him without attributing things to him that don’t apply. Kindness used to be a Christian virtue.

          • You yourself said “he is not observant”. That explains why he likely us a

          • Or maybe generalizations about groups of people admit to a lot of exceptions.

          • The head of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi obtained a BA, MA, and PhD in Islamic studies. Surly he and individuals like him know their religion quite well. He and other like-minded scholars have no issues with preaching in a frenzied manner death to gays, apostates, stoning for adultery, warfare against non-believers, etc. and they can rattle off the Koranic verses that justify such violence.

            How does a non-Muslim (Infidel), politician, religious leader, celebrity, well-meaning ignoramus, etc. with little knowledge of the Islamic faith, who earnestly defends it, know more about it than a learned and dedicated scholar such as al-Baghdadi?

          • There are evangelical preachers with equivalent degrees (BA, M,Div, D,Min) who seem to specialize in preaching in a frenzied manner, advocating death to gays, apostates, imaginary persecutors, and they can rattle off Bible verses to justify their positions. There are a lot of them, but one example is Kevin Swanson. He has an M.Div degree, which takes as long as an MA plus a PhD. He is so extreme that he was even ejected by an anti-gay country! Do all Christians agree with him? Not Lutherans (ELCA), Episcopalians and Presbyterians (USA), whose ministers can officiate at gay weddings.

          • When was the last time a gay was beheaded by an Episcopalian, thrown from a high building by a Baptist, or crucified by a Catholic all in accordance with Christian law?

          • You yourself said “he is not observant”. This likely explains why he is a “nice guy” and does not bomb, burn, behead and brutalize” like the devout and observant”. Hopefully he will remain non-observant. To devout Muslims, your friend is no better than a non-Muslim (Infidel).

          • The rest of his family is observant. The Muslims across the street are also very nice people. They live next door to the Baptist pastor.

          • If they know their son is gay and do not threaten or harm him they can’t be all that observant. Most likely they are like me, a cupcake eater who claims to be a fitness buff.

  • I was worried about myself for a while, because I never heard of this Anthesis of which you wrote. Then it became clear that the author just misspoll it and left out a sillybell. Now I’m worried about the spellchekker.

  • Too bad this worthless mayor wasn’t massacred in the gay club

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