Uprisings: Sign your name

By : Billy Manes
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While many of us were flapping around in post-traumatic winds on the one-year mark of the Pulse shooting June 12, some of the weight of a contentious legislative session met the power of the governor’s pen. Governor Scott, who never met a gay person he didn’t ignore (except for when convenient), took to uncle Donald Trump’s Twitter ways and made it clear that he was thinking about the victims.

“Over the past year, the Orlando community has been challenged like never before,” his fingers tweeted. “I have been briefed by our law enforcement officials on this tragic incident and Ann and I are praying for the families who lost loved ones today. I ask all Floridians to pray for the families impacted by this senseless act of violence. I will remain in contact with the Orlando law enforcement community throughout the day as more information is made available.”

This, it should be noted, was released on June 5, a week before the memorials. Also, it doesn’t mention the LGBTQ community or the QLatinx community, nor does it mention Pulse. It’s sanitized blather that could have been copy-and-pasted from a fleeting thought the year prior. Also, prayers are not enough.

On June 12, Scott posted a picture of himself, head bowed (near rainbow flags!), stating, “Today, all of Florida remembers and honors the 49 innocent lives lost one year ago at Pulse.” He would later name “Orlando, our state, the Hispanic community and the LGBTQ community” in a statement.

So all’s well that ends well, then. Except it isn’t, really. Rather than examine gun-control measures or the equality issue, Scott grabbed a pen and made guns even more of a menace. On Friday, June 9, Scott signed 16 measures into law, among which was SB 128, a bill backed by the National Rifle Association under the absurd notion that it was somehow cleaning up the Stand Your Ground law. Its authors, including Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island), said the law would just shift the burden of proof from the defendant to the prosecutor in terms of whether the shooter had a right to shoot.

It’s all incredibly confusing, but, in effect, prosecutors are seeing this as another layer of protection for trigger-happy defendants. To seal the deal, Scott also signed SB 1052 which allows you to shoot anyone at any place where you have a so-called right to be.

Also of note, Scott signed a “religious expression” bill, SB 436, which will allow student assemblies to be led by Christian prayers (in force!), the Miami Herald reports. Religious expression is already protected under the U.S. Constitution, however, so this base baiting should be seen as exactly what it is: bullying.

Welcome to the playground.

Equality now?

On June 12, Gov. Rick Scott finally tipped his hat to the LGBTQ community that has suffered his indifference for a year following Pulse. Scott, whose administration famously fought against gay marriage to the tune of millions of dollars, was not given an immediate reprieve from the LGBTQ community, however.

“We want to make sure that is in addition to, and not a substitute for, the real work of making sure that discrimination is not acceptable in the state of Florida, and he can do that with an executive order and a stroke of a pen,” Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith said at a press conference June 12, according to floridapolitics.com. “We hope he does that, and we hope any candidate running for office that invokes the name of Pulse has the courage to name the victims and make clear their stance, not in platitudes, but in real promises.”

Florida had its chance (once again) to pass the Competitive Workforce Act this year, but it died.

In the Name of Love

In what can only be described as an awkward bit of musical scripting, U2 frontman Bono took the stage in Miami on June 11 to sing the praises of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Bono’s point was to highlight the senator’s assistance in HIV/AIDS funding in the face of President Donald Trump’s budget battles against overseas aid to the ONE Campaign which battles the disease.

Rubio, naturally, was there, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

“By people like your Senator Marco Rubio, who is fighting for this stuff and I want to thank him here tonight,” the singer said. “I want to thank him because it’s not good to see these people as I’ve seen them. These budget cuts by this president could undo the work, the great work of the United States of America. So send him a message. This country does incredible things when it works together … as one.”

More guns, please

It doesn’t take much to run for governor in Florida – well, not much spine; just a lot of cash, apparently – but you would always hope for a little bit of decorum to soften the blow of binary politicizing. Alas, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam doesn’t seem to worried about appearances as he launches his run for governor.

On June 12, a day of remembrance the world over, the gubernatorial hopeful took to a Bradenton stage to espouse the glory of the gun and increased access to it. We should all have concealed-carry licenses, he told an audience at Peach’s Restaurant.

“You can run government like a business and save money and deliver value to the people who make government possible through your hard-earned tax dollars,” Putnam preached. “And we’ve proven that. And Florida is number one in concealed weapons license holders – people lawfully exercising their Second Amendment rights.”

“There’s more to be done,” he repeated several times. Oh, please, no.

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