Over 24 hours after anti-gay mass murder marked the bloodiest shooting in the history of the United States, the vast majority of Republican political leaders have yet to express any support to an LGBT community in national mourning. Even simply acknowledging the reality that Orlando's gay community was targeted appears to be too much to ask. Is the deafening silence on the part of so many a quiet recognition that hate-fueled legislation contributes to hate-fueled violence? Or is it nothing more than a glaring refusal to accept the humanity of their LGBT constituents?
The lack of acknowledgment is so egregious, so painful, and so deeply unnerving that it seems unreal. Yet, as of Monday morning, a review of all 54 Republican Senators' Twitter accounts confirms that 13 had no response to the terror attack, but of those that did, the condolences were devoid of any reference to the gay community, with one notable exception: Susan Collins of Maine. A brave outlier, her lonely voice stands in stark contrast to her peers.
Beyond Twitter, the eerie quiet persists, with only a handful of murmers. Mark Kirk of Ilinois did manage to utter the words "gay community." Ted Cruz, a paragon of hypocrisy, was unable to admit our own country's failings or his own vile rhetoric, instead choosing this moment as the time to condemn anti-gay atrocities in Iran. Marco Rubio spoke out and admitted that "he targeted a location frequented by members of our LGBT community -- my gut tells me that it had something to do with it as well." Suspecting that homophobia may have "had something to do with" the slaughter committed by a virulently homophobic man at a gay nightclub during gay pride may not seem like much, but even the power of such a basic declaration cannot be overestimated. That the governor of Florida has, as of this writing, yet to do the same is truly unfathomable.
The strikingly partisan divide, at a time when love should reign, appears particularly alarming within the context of the outpouring of support on a global scale. #Lovislove, vigils, and rainbow colors stretching from the Freedom Tower to the Space Needle to the Eiffel Tower tonight are far from empty gestures; they are necessary public indicators that LGBT lives do, in fact, matter. For those of us whose very right to exist has been questioned, words and imagery lend substantive meaning.
In the words of Harvey Milk, "Hope will never be silent." Let all of America's leaders look inward and consider why it is that they feel incapable of even the brief, dignified act of bearing witness.
Gabe Fenigsohn (@gfenig) is a New York City writer and opiner on media and culture and research manager at Cardwell Beach.