Showing posts with label Orlando. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Orlando. Show all posts

January 30, 2019

29 Yrs Old FL.Man Steals Fam $200k and Spends It On BulgarianCall Girl But When Gig Was Up He Killed the Fam.

Grant Amato made his first appearance in a Florida courtroom on Monday. (Image by WKMG News 6) (WKMG News 6 ClickOrlando)

Grant Amato had a problem and it was ripping his family apart.
Outside the walls of his family’s well-manicured home in a rural area northeast of Orlando, the 29-year-old could have been mistaken for another luckless young man surfing through a bad patch — lost his job, kicked out of school, living at home.
But inside the house, Amato was allegedly gobbling up whatever money he could steal. He lifted $150,000 from his parents, Chad and Margaret. His brother Cody lost $60,000; when that was gone, Amato allegedly stole his brother’s guns and sold them. Amato even allegedly took out a $65,000 loan on the house.
Amato flung all that money through his Internet connection, police say, where it landed more than 5,600 miles away in the Balkans. Since last June, he had been communicating with a Bulgarian woman — who has not been publicly identified. They met on Cam Girls, a live-streaming pornographic website. In three months, he had paid out more than $200,000 to interact with the woman. His family knew he had stolen the money, and they knew where it was going. His mom and dad demanded Amato enter rehab for a pornography addiction last December. Promises were made, a contract signed between parents and son. The family drama hit such an intense pitch that Cody confided to his girlfriend he was worried his brother “would kill everybody,” according to an arrest affidavit filed recently by the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities now believe he did. On Friday morning, police discovered inside the family home the bodies of Chad, 59, Margaret, 61, and Cody, 31. All had been gunned down in what a police affidavit described as an “execution-style” shooting. Amato is now in police custody facing three first-degree murder charges. Police alleged his obsession with the girl across the Atlantic propelled Amato to violence.
“I think we have some mental health issues,” Jeffery Dowdy, the defendant’s attorney, told reporters this week, according to Orlando’s Fox 5. “A few months ago . . . he had checked himself into an Internet sex addiction facility in Fort Lauderdale. He had walked off there.”  

 As Amato’s hours and money were beginning to be consumed with his overseas obsession last year, his life beyond the computer screen was also coming undone. 
On June 21, 2018, Amato was working as a registered nurse at AdventHealth Orlando. According to a police report, hospital staff discovered eight empty vials of propofol, a medication used as a sedative before surgery, in two rooms Amato was overseeing. No doctors had ordered the drugs, and records indicated Amato had taken them from a storage machine.
When confronted about the unauthorized drugs, Amato told hospital authorities “he administered the drug to patients who were not being adequately relaxed,” the police report stated. The hospital believed he had previously improperly administered propofol as well.
During the confrontation, Amato expressed suicidal thoughts, and the police were called. Officers arrested Amato and the hospital said it planned to prosecute, according to the police report, though public records do not indicate charges were ever filed. Amato’s brother’s girlfriend later told police he was then kicked out of anesthesiology school. 
Amato’s online relationship intensified, meanwhile, and he continued sending large sums of money overseas. The family, watching Amato’s online infatuation drain their bank accounts, reached a tipping point. According to the arrest affidavit, on Dec. 22, his father Chad called a family meeting, along with Margaret, Cody, and eldest son Jason. Chad told Amato that if he wished to stay at their house, he needed to enter a 60-day sex and pornography rehabilitation center in Fort Lauderdale.
He agreed to go, but walked away from the center before his treatment was complete on Jan. 4.
After returning home, his father presented Amato with a two-page list of rules he was required to follow if he wanted to live at home.
One of the conditions was that he cease all communication with the Bulgarian woman. According to the arrest affidavit, Amato would later explain to police that he agreed, “but he didn’t think they were fair because he felt that the Bulgarian female was his girlfriend and they had a relationship.”  
He continued, however, to communicate with the woman over Twitter, according to the arrest affidavit. Not much later, his father discovered the messaging was still ongoing. On Thursday, the family again confronted Amato, telling him he had to get out of the house.
That night, Amato’s brother Cody was with his girlfriend when he received a call from his father asking Cody to come home. When the girlfriend asked what was wrong, he replied that it was “stupid” family nonsense, the arrest affidavit said. Later, she texted her boyfriend for a status update.
“[A]ll ok,” he wrote back.
But when Cody did not show up for work the next morning, the girlfriend called the police to check on the family.
Sheriff deputies arrived at the house at 9:17 a.m. Friday. No one answered the knocks. The windows and doors were all locked. Calls to the family members went unanswered. The deputies even blasted the cruiser’s air horn, but no one stirred inside. 
A deputy eventually slipped the deadbolt on the back door using a knife. Chad was lying on his back on the kitchen floor, blood pooling across the ground. Cody was curled into the fetal position on the floor of a storage room. Margaret was sprawled over the desk in her home office. All had been shot and a 9mm handgun was recovered at the scene.
Amato’s 1996 Honda Accord was missing from the house. Law enforcement put out a bulletin for the car, and the next day police tracked the Honda down to a DoubleTree Hilton Hotel in Orlando. Approached by investigators, he agreed to sit for an interview. Amato described the family drama stemming from his relationship with the Bulgarian woman.
But he denied killing his family, instead claiming he left the house after his father confronted him about the Twitter messages. Later, Amato said he returned to the house and saw police and news vehicles outside the house. He claims he fled again. 
After showing Amato ghastly pictures of the crime scene — his father face up on the kitchen floor, his brother curled up in the storage, his mother spilled over her desk — investigators asked Amato is if he “had any remorse.” 
According to the arrest affidavit, his “response was his family had been blaming him for months for ruining their lives, stealing and not following the rules of the home, so he might as well be blamed for this too.” 
Court records indicate Amato will be formally arraigned on the charges on March 26. Authorities have not signaled whether the unnamed cam model is facing any charges related to the deaths.

June 12, 2017

Since Pulse-Orlando Many Have Seen The Hatred They Created by Their Homophobia

You see them everywhere you go in this bruised city.
Murals, hand-painted signs, stickers in windows, ribbons on lapels, decals on police cars. #OrlandoStrong. You Matter. #OrlandoUnited. Love Wins.

The rainbow-colored messages even stretch across entire buildings, like the one at Se7en Bites, the eatery that Trina Gregory-Propst runs with her wife east of downtown. To her, they are bittersweet symbols of a community that is healing.

“When people try to push you down, there’s always a rise up (afterward),” she says. “And this rise up has been about the good and not just dwelling on … the bad that happened.”
The bad that happened. A year later, it’s still hard to talk about.

And yet 12 months after a gunman massacred 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub, members of Orlando’s LGBT community say they feel embraced here like never before.
The blood drives and candlelight vigils in the days and weeks after June 12, 2016, shooting were soon followed by more enduring action.

Donations poured into a fund set up by the city to help the families of those killed, along with those who survived. By the time the OneOrlando fund closed officially on March 31, it had distributed more than $30 million.

Although gay rights have been a divisive issue among Florida Republicans, nearly two dozen GOP officials in Central Florida signed a resolution last year calling for laws banning discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

When Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs unveiled the measure a month after the Pulse shootings at an annual Republican Party fundraising dinner, she got a standing ovation.
“I took it head on and was shocked by the support … that was just unbelievable,” said Jacobs, who has been increasingly forceful in her support for the city’s LGBTQ community. The mayor says she has seen a dramatic shift in attitude among her fellow Republican lawmakers on gay rights, and she speaks often of the city’s new “culture of compassion.”

‘This is your family’

In December, Orlando Police launched a Safe Place initiative which encourages businesses and organizations to display decals stating their commitment to sheltering gay, lesbian or transgender people who are victims of hate crimes or are feeling threatened.
Buildings displaying the decal agree to serve as a refuge from harassment or violence while police are called. More than 200 businesses have signed up.

In the wake of the shootings donations to the LGBT Community Center of Central Florida have allowed the Orlando agency to expand its free HIV testing and mental health counseling, says Gabe Martinez, the center’s director of clinical services.
“The Orlando community has changed … we have more of a togetherness,” he said. “When anyone goes through such tragedy we know that people tend to come together. I think we have that unity more than ever.”

And then there are the murals and the rainbow flags, which have sprung up seemingly everywhere since the shootings. None have been defaced.
Lt. James Young, the Orlando Police Department’s liaison to the gay community, says he’s never seen so many rainbow flags outside of Pride weekends.

“It’s overwhelming in so many ways,” said Young, who believes the city’s reaction to the Pulse tragedy has reminded residents of all stripes that their commonalities outweigh their differences.
“I think this has allowed people to see we’re just human,” he said. “It’s not the gay community, it’s not a minority community — this is your family. These are your relatives, they’re your neighbors, these are your friends, these are your people who work in your businesses.”

Glancing over shoulders

Despite all this, the psychic scars of that horrific night remain.
Some members of the city’s gay community say they have been afraid to return to bars and clubs. Others do so warily, glancing over their shoulders for potential threats.

Dan Fraser, a manager at Stonewall, a gay bar in downtown Orlando, says he keeps a closer eye on people entering the bar. Barbara Poma, who owned Pulse, says she and her friends are on high alert when they go out at night. Whenever possible, they try to sit near an exit.

Still others cannot bring themselves to drive past the Pulse site on Orange Avenue, where fencing and makeshift memorials still surround the shuttered nightclub.

And no one in Orlando is kidding themselves that homophobia is gone, says City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, the first openly gay elected official in central Florida. Sheehan, who has complained that some local officials overlooked the LGBT community in announcing plans to commemorate the shooting’s anniversary this month, said that discrimination still exists — it’s just subtle.

“We as Americans will be nowhere if we hate each other and spend all our time shooting and hurting and hating,” she said, in a plea for the city to keep banding together the way it did in the days after the attack.
“Why not love? Why not be like all those people who I saw holding candles and giving blood and donating money and caring?
‘It’s ok to say ‘I love you”

Still, many in Orlando’s gay community say that over the past year they have felt a welcoming communal spirit in the city that makes them stand a little taller and feel a little … well, prouder.
“Many hearts and many minds were changed after what they saw at Pulse,” said Poma, Pulse’s owner, who has announced plans to turn the site into a permanent memorial.

Across the street from Pulse is an Einstein’s Bagels, whose parking lot was used to treat Pulse victims on the night of the shooting. Police told general manager Tammi Hamburg that some died there.
Today on one side of the Einstein’s building is a mural showing four hands spelling out the word “LOVE.” The mural also contains 49 orange blossoms — one for each of the 49 people slain at Pulse.
Hamburg said the store thought they might get some pushback from customers who were uncomfortable supporting gay rights. But feedback has only been positive.

In Orlando these days, the pain still is never far away. But neither is the love.

“I felt so helpless as it (the attack) was going on. But … Orlando has really stepped up to the plate,” said Fraser, the manager at Stonewall. “The camaraderie that we have in this city is unbelievable.”
“We check on each other constantly,” agreed Gregory-Propst, the Se7en Bites owner. “It (the attack) brought out the best of people. It’s ok to say ‘I love you’ to your friends and to let them know that you truly care about them.”

December 20, 2016

Relatives of the Pulse Shooting Victims Suing Facebook, Twitter, Google

Relatives of three people killed in the June shooting attack at an Orlando nightclub sued Facebook, Twitter, and Google's YouTube Monday, accusing the social media sites of recklessly allowing ISIS to use them for recruiting terrorists.

Without them, "the explosive growth if ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," said their lawyer, Keith Altman of Southfield, Michigan.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by family members of Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes, and Juan Guerrero. They were among 49 people killed when Omar Mateen opened fire inside Orlando's pulse nightclub on June 12. Mateen was killed by responding police.

The relatives say the social media companies have for years provided ISIS with accounts to use their networks "as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits."

The companies are well aware of the problem, the lawsuit says, but have done little to stop it.

Their complaint, filed in federal court in Michigan where some of the family members live, quotes Twitter founder Biz Stone says saying "if you want to create a platform that allows for the freedom of expression for hundreds of millions of people around the world, you really have to take the good with the bad."

They claim the companies could easily block known ISIS recruiters from simply opening new accounts after they are discovered and shut down. It also says the companies place ads on the ISIS postings, profiting from terrorist messages.
The FBI has said that Mateen was radicalized in part through the Internet, and he pledged allegiance to ISIS during a lull in the shooting spree.

But investigators have said he also praised other terror groups, claimed his had family connections to al Qaeda, and said he was a member of Hezbollah, a bitter enemy of ISIS.

Altman filed a similar lawsuit in June on behalf of the family of an American student killed during the November 2015 terror attack in Paris.

But in January, a lawsuit against Twitter brought the widow of an American killed in Jordan in an ISIS attack on a police training center was dismissed. The judge said such lawsuits are barred by a federal law, the Communications Decency Act, which provides that web sites cannot be held legally responsible for the content posted by their users.

Legal experts said the latest lawsuit will face a similar hurdle.

In response to the earlier lawsuits, the companies said their rules make clear that violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on their platforms and said the suits were without merit.


September 23, 2016

Omar Mateen Went into Pulse to kill Gays Like Him to Impress Gay Hating Dad

Crime Watch Daily has exclusive new insight into Omar Mateen, who shot up an Orlando nightclub, killing 49 people. Mateen's ex-wife sits down to tell her story to Crime Watch Daily's new special correspondent, Kim Goldman.
Sitora Yusufiy has found peace of mind and a new life in pristine Boulder, Colorado, but one thing she’s never able to escape is her association to the man who committed the worst mass shooting in modern American history. Mass-murderer Omar Mateen stormed into popular Orlando, Florida gay nightclub Pulse on June 12 and gunned down 49 innocent souls, wounding 53 others. A bullet-riddled Mateen goes to his grave in a shootout with police SWAT teams. 
Was the New York-born Muslim actually an ISIS sympathizer hell-bent on a jihadi one-way ticket to martyrdom? A self-hating gay man? Or something else?

"He never was sexually interested," said Sitora Yusufiy.

Now finally the one person who wants to set the record straight on what she believes is the motive behind the most horrific mass shooting in modern American history.

 "When I heard that he pledged to ISIS, I immediately know that was nonsense, because I knew Omar," said Yusufiy.

Sitora Yusufiy believes her ex-husband was gay and continually tormented by what she calls his homophobic father, Seddique Mateen. Sitora says Omar lived life in the shadows.
Yusufi tells Crime Watch Daily she is absolutely adamant her ex's pledge to ISIS in the midst of the horror was a ruse. Sitora says he was really just out to win the approval of his dad, who often publicly disparaged gays.
Crime Watch Daily went to Seddique Mateen’s home to ask him about his former daughter-in-law’s claims, but he did not want to talk to us.

Sitora claims much of Mateen's anger came from what she describes as his turbulent relationship with what she calls his homophobic father, who Sitora claims often taunted him about being gay.
Sitora says living a lie triggered the rage in her husband, and before his now-infamous attack, that rage was often directed at her.
Sitora tells Kim Goldman she became a virtual hostage in her own home. Her worried parents drove to Florida to check on her. It was time to get her out. They drove off together after a confrontation with Omar, and Sitora got an emergency ticket to New Jersey the next day.
Sitora now reveals Mateen actually tried to reconnect not long ago. The terror hit her all over again. Sitora says she has never looked back. 
But now for the first time, she is sharing a painful secret: She was once pregnant with Omar Mateen's child. It's a secret she's carried for seven long years. 
"He was happy about it but I told him that if he wanted to make things work, he had to find the courage to come to Jersey to apologize, to do whatever it takes to win my family and myself back, and he never did," said Sitora. "He never made an effort to do that."
Sitora says she made the difficult choice to terminate the pregnancy. 
But out of ashes of tragedy rose a resilient Sitora. The portrait artist has rebuilt her life and is happily married, and the couple is now expecting their first child. 
As for Omar Mateen's father, in recent interviews he has condemned his son's actions, calling what he did an "act or terror." Seddique Mateen has also been adamant that he does not believe his son was gay.

June 30, 2016

If Omar Mateen Was a Closeted Gay Muslim The Narrative Changes, Does it Matter?

Image result for omar mateen gay

If Omar Mateen was indeed a closeted gay man, the massacre’s initial symbolism as an Islamist homophobic attack has been uncomfortably overtaken by a revenge narrative. Tel Aviv’s LGBT community has been there before.

Seven years ago, a masked gunman walked into the Barnoar, a center for LGBT youth in Tel Aviv, and killed three people. For four years, the incident was one of Israel’s biggest unsolved mysteries and an open wound for the LGBT community. It became a rallying cry for gay rights and acceptance. But in 2013, police identified a suspect and a sordid story unfolded: The 50-year-old head of Barnoar had allegedly had a relationship with a 15-year-old whose relatives were suspected in the shooting. Police called it an act of revenge. 
Suddenly, the symbol of an arbitrary anti-gay attack was called into question. The Israeli LGBT community was rattled. It was no longer clear what, if anything, the Barnoar murders stood for. 

The massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando may be following a similarly confusing, albeit condensed, trajectory. Within hours, politicians were angling to control the narrative: Republicans yelled “Islamic extremism”; a disturbingly self-congratulatory Donald Trump doubled down on his anti-Muslim immigration ban. Democrats channeled public anger over lenient gun laws into dramatic action on the House floor – literally. The LGBT community and allies gathered at vigils across the country and reminded Americans that we are still the most targeted group for hate crimes. 

And now, several weeks later, more details are emerging that may scramble that picture. It appears that Omar Mateen, the 29-year-old Afghani-American killer, may have been a closeted gay man who frequented Pulse, had a presence on gay hookup sites, and, as alleged in a recent interview with Univision, possibly perpetrated the attack as an act of revenge on an HIV-positive partner. (FBI investigators said recently that they have not been able to substantiate those claims.) 

Does this allegation matter in how we think about Orlando? Should it? If the claims of Mateen’s personal connection are verified, does it negate his pledge to ISIS made in a phone call to police during the standoff? And how are we to reconcile the political motive he gave for the attack in that call – the United States’ ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan – with a potential personal motive that may involve internalized homophobia? With so few concrete details, is it even responsible for us to form an opinion at this point?

As a journalist who jumped into the fray shortly after the shooting and made broad statements about Islamic extremism, gun control and homophobia in the United States, it’s uncomfortable to see new evidence challenge what we all thought were the broader political questions at stake. The new information about Mateen does not make those questions obsolete, but it does push them to the sideline a bit, whether we like it or not.

When a revenge narrative creeps in, it allows people to dismiss larger social and political contexts. As Tel Aviv’s Barnoar example demonstrated, a symbol deflates when the facts become murkier and no longer adhere to a clear-cut narrative of hate. One Israeli activist called the Barnoar revelations “embarrassing” for the LGBT community; another told me that it required communal introspection. “The subject puts the spotlight on the dark side of the [LGBT] community,” she said. Both agreed Barnoar is still a symbol, but a complicated one. 

In the end, the same may be true of Orlando. That massacre is still a reflection of U.S. foreign policy, religiously-sowed hatred and America’s rampant, unregulated gun culture. But a narrative that also involves an individual’s psychosis makes it easier for politicians, in particular, to ignore those hard questions. Mateen’s personal demons, unfortunately, may give Americans permission to avoid facing our own.

Which is why it felt necessary to respond to Orlando right away. In anger and disbelief and confusion, those of us who weighed in tried to make sense of what happened by facing its uncomfortable implications in hopes that it would lead to important conversations about problems that need to be fixed. We grappled with the issues that appeared to be at play. And the result of these conversations is that tragedies often become symbols which bring us together and help us start to heal.  

But the responsibility of journalists – and everyone, really – is to revisit and revise our assessments as new facts come to light. Symbols can be therapeutic and empowering, as Barnoar was initially for the Israeli LGBT community, but we have to be careful about how we apply them. And we have to accept that tragedies can point to many social as well as personal problems and mean multiple things at the same time. Ultimately, they may not be perfect symbols. It will likely be a while before we have clarity on Orlando. 

But that doesn’t mean it can’t inspire real change now: After Barnoar, a number of public figures in Israel came out, and increased communal solidarity and awareness led to pressure on politicians that resulted in some legal gains for LGBT Israelis. In the United States, one promising development in the wake of the Orlando massacre is the momentum within the LGBT community is collectively taking on gun control with the skills and infrastructure we developed while successfully campaigning for same-sex marriage. 

Regardless of what we end up knowing about Mateen – if we ever know the whole story – and however complex the narrative ultimately is, we can still choose to channel the pain and symbolism of Orlando into constructive action. 

Brian Schaefer
Haaretz Contributor
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Gay Men Chased from Their Homes After Signing Memorial Book on Orlando Victims


Image result for ivory coast gay men

Signing condolences to
the family of victims of the Orlando Massacre above.

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Gay men in Ivory Coast say they've been assaulted and forced to flee their homes after the U.S. Embassy published a photo of them signing a condolence book for victims of this month’s/// killings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The photo, published on the embassy's website, shows the faces of six men with the caption "LGBTI community signing the condolence book." It was taken at the embassy on June 16, the same day Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and other officials signed the book in honor of the 49 people killed in the Orlando attack.

The photo has been widely shared on social media and two of the men said that in the days after it was published an angry mob punched and kicked them while shouting anti-gay slurs. The men spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for their safety.

Four of the six men, including the two attacked, said they have fled their homes under pressure from family and friends who had been unaware of their sexual orientation.
The men said they were not contacted before the photo was published. However the U.S. embassy did contact the heads of three Ivory Coast organizations that advocate for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, according to press officer Elizabeth Ategou. Those activists gave their approval, but they were not in the photo or at the embassy event.

Ategou said the embassy "deeply regrets that any individuals were attacked based on any kind of orientation they might have." She said the embassy was in contact with the men and encouraged them to report the attacks to police.

The head of one gay rights group who approved the photo, and who also insisted on anonymity for his safety, said he would not have approved it had he known those pictured would be identified so explicitly as members of the "LGBTI community."
The photo remained on the embassy's website Wednesday. Ategou said the embassy had received no requests to take it down.

Same-sex relations are not a crime in Ivory Coast, but there are no legal protections for sexual minorities. In January 2014, a mob ransacked the Abidjan headquarters of the country’s most prominent gay rights organization.

The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan has strengthened ties with the country’s LGBT activists following an Obama administration memorandum in 2011 that empowered "all agencies engaged abroad" to promote and protect the human rights of sexual minorities.

June 28, 2016

Little Marco Could Make Hillary President {Up to Young Dem, Ind., LGBT}


Marco Rubio says he decided to run for re-election because it will be imperative to have people like him in the U.S. Senate if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

“There’s [a] role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: the Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president.”

But it is worth asking: Does Rubio’s decision to run make it more likely Clinton will become president?

It’s easy to envision a scenario in which it does. Eagerness to drive a political stake through Rubio’s heart could increase Democratic turnout in Florida, throwing the most important swing state — and therefore the election — to Clinton.

Think about it. Democrats hardly would be whipped into a frenzy by a desire to defeat, say, Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Most voters probably still are fuzzy at best on who, exactly, Lopez-Cantera is. But Rubio? He’s become a high-profile target.

The wish to stick it to Rubio also plausibly would be a better election-day mobilizer than any positive feeling toward either Rep. Patrick Murphy or Rep. Alan Grayson, who are battling it out to be the Democratic senatorial nominee.

Rubio’s insinuation that the Orlando massacre influenced his decision to seek re-election only heightens Democratic anger toward him. Before, the biggest knock on Rubio was that he was a slacker who couldn’t be bothered to show up to work in the Senate. Damaging, yes, but not something to make Democrats get out and vote.

Now, though, Rubio is the hypocrite who steadfastly has opposed LGBT equality and commonsense gun control yet has the gall to imply he’s running in response to the assault-weapon massacre perpetrated at a gay night club?

How epically self-serving.

Rubio’s anti-LGBT record is exactly the kind of issue that could motivate young Democrats and independents who otherwise might have stayed home to make the effort to vote. As a group, they might not even have been that enamored of Clinton. But if they take the trouble to vote against Rubio in remembrance of Orlando, they might just vote for Clinton while they’re at it.

For Clinton to win in November, she’ll need a big turnout of Democrats in the Orlando area — precisely the area that ought to be most offended by Rubio’s decision to use the Pulse horror as his excuse to run. Democratic turnout in South Florida also is a key, and that’s also an LGBT-friendly venue.

Plus, Rubio’s flip-flop on immigration is a double-whammy in those two regions. Not only does it anger Hispanics who feel he stabbed them in the back by abandoning immigration reform, it angers those who remember that gay Hispanics were targeted in the Pulse attack.

Current polls show Rubio beating either Murphy or Grayson. But if Democrats exploit Rubio’s Pulse hypocrisy with skill, Rubio might just help them beat Trump.

By Jac Wilder VerSteeg who is a columnist for the South Florida Sun Sentinel and former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post.  

June 27, 2016

Pastors Praise the Shooting in Orlando, A Warning


After the massacre in Orlando, Fla., American religious leaders spoke in a largely unified voice, condemning the killer and mourning the dead. But at some extreme conservative Christian churches, there was another message: good riddance.

In the weeks since 49 people were slaughtered at a gay nightclub, remarks by pastors celebrating the deaths have brought attention to several outposts of anti-gay hostility across the country that until now had been operating mostly under the radar.

“The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die,” Roger Jimenez, a Sacramento preacher, exhorted his congregants on June 12, the day of the assault. “The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job! Because these people are predators! They are abusers!”

Mr. Jimenez’s sermon received widespread attention after a video of it appeared online, and then a torrent of denunciation from gay rights advocates, fellow pastors and pretty much everyone who saw it. But his sentiments were also echoed in at least a few other churches.

Rebecca Barrett-Fox, a visiting assistant professor of sociology at Arkansas State University who has researched Christian extremists, said she had tracked about five churches — in California, Texas, Arizona and Tennessee — where preachers had endorsed the killings in Orlando.

They are not as well known as the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., which has become infamous for demonstrations at military funerals. But their views about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and what should happen to them, can be just as troubling.

Many of the preachers identify themselves as so-called independent Baptists, meaning that they are not a part of any of the denomination’s groupings, such as the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Barrett-Fox said the Baptist emphasis on church autonomy — recognizing no central authority — allowed pastors to interpret the Bible for themselves.

“One of the consequences of that is you can get whole congregations that spin further and further away from the norm of what is accepted theology,” she said.

The independent Baptist churches where anti-gay hatred has flourished tend to have small congregations, more likely to number in the dozens than the hundreds, experts said.

Sermons posted online since the attack have been interspersed with dehumanizing labels for L.G.B.T. people reminiscent of those used by the perpetrators of historical genocides. The Orlando victims were “sodomites,” “reprobates,” “perverts” and “scum of the earth,” preachers have said.

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In a sermon at a church in Fort Worth, Pastor Donnie Romero told his congregants that every gay person is a pedophile. He was praying that the injured Orlando victims would not survive, he said, “so that they don’t get any more opportunity to go out and hurt little children.”

“I’ll pray to God that God will finish the job that that man started,” he added, referring to the gunman, Omar Mateen.

While the pastors have stopped short of calling congregants to arms, they say little to discourage it, either.

“I don’t believe it’s right for us to just be a vigilante,” said Steven Anderson, the leader of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz., in a video response to the massacre. But, he added, “These people all should have been killed, anyway, but they should have been killed through the proper channels, as in they should have been executed by a righteous government.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said it was alarmed by the comments of extremist pastors after the mass shooting in Orlando. Heidi Beirich, the center’s director of intelligence, warned that they should not be dismissed as empty rhetoric.

“I think it is entirely possible that someone could be inspired by this and kill gay people,” Ms. Beirich said. “This kind of message is exactly akin to Hitlerian ideas of exterminating Jews. It’s that extreme. It’s basically genocidal toward a population.”

Messages left with the pastors in Sacramento, Fort Worth and Tempe were not returned.

Of course, an overwhelming majority of Christians, including Baptists, reject hateful messages about L.G.B.T. people. As a video of Mr. Jimenez’s remarks was shared widely online, a group of more than 700 Sacramento area pastors denounced them. A petition calling for Mr. Jimenez’s removal collected more than 8,000 signatures. About 100 protesters gathered outside the church.

After the Orlando killings, some gay rights advocates have noted how far many mainstream religious leaders have shifted toward acceptance of gay men and lesbians since an earlier tragedy in 1973. Back then, when an arson fire at a gay New Orleans bar killed 32 people, churches refused to bury the dead.

Jay Brown, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, said the L.G.B.T. advocacy group was appalled by the incendiary comments of Mr. Jimenez and other pastors. “But on the other hand, we’ve seen an enormous amount of inspirational comments from faith leaders,” he said.

Mr. Brown recalled how Utah’s lieutenant governor, a Mormon, gave a speech in which he apologized for his role in perpetuating homophobia. Around the same time, a Catholic bishop in Florida issued a public call for believers to stop demonizing gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people. On Sunday, Pope Francis said gays deserved an apology from the Roman Catholic Church.

However, while many conservative Christian leaders no longer want to be seen as anti-gay, the change in tone should not be interpreted as full acceptance, Dr. Barrett-Fox said. The “love the sinner, hate the sin” approach to homosexuality continues to be deeply woven into Christian thinking. 

Some of us gays believe that this pastor is abusing his freedom of speech by inciting to violence and therefore there most be a price to pay. Not a violent price but a price from his peers, landlord, and hopefully people that declare that they are Christians because language like this is what brought the instigation for the shooting in orlando in the first place. This so called pastor should keep in mind there have been pastors and their families that have died through shootings because of who they were. That is the best example to show to this man and others, that calling for violence is a risky proposition for all.


Orlando Shooter Was Gay First Terrorist Second

                                                                           The man, who did not want to be 
The man, who did not want to be identified, wore a disguise and called himself Miguel 

A man who claims he had a "friend with benefits" relationship with Omar Mateen insisted the shooting was not because of any Islamic extremist tendencies but instead was revenge against an HIV-positive lover.

Mateen's shocking attack on the Pulse nightclub in Florida two weeks ago left 49 people dead and dozens more injured in the single deadliest mass shooting on US soil.

In an interview on Wednesday, the man, who did not want to be identified, wore a disguise and called himself Miguel.

He said the reasons behind the massacre could be traced back to a threesome with two Puerto Rican men.
The man, who did not want to be identified, wore a disguise and called himself Miguel
He told Univision he met Mateen last year through a gay dating app and began a relationship soon after. 

Miguel said the sexual relationship lasted about two months and they met at a hotel in Orlando about 20 times.

Univision revealed that a representative for the hotel confirmed Mateen was a familiar face at the hotel during the period in question.

Miguel then provided lurid details about Mateen’s sexual encounters – one of which he said led to the shooting itself.

Mateen was allegedly upset after a threesome with two Puerto Rican men went wrong when one of the men revealed he was HIV positive.

Miguel told Univision anchor Maria Elenas Salinas: "Omar was terrified that he was infected.
"I asked him, ‘Did you do a test?’ Yes. He went to the pharmacy and did the test, it came out negative but it doesn’t come out right away. It takes four, five months."

Miguel believes Mateen intentionally targeted Latinos in retribution for this HIV incident and for the other times his sexual advances were rejected by Puerto Ricans.

He said: "I believe this is not terrorism. He hated gay Puerto Ricans for all the stuff they did to him.

"I believe this crazy horrible thing he did was for revenge."

He told Univision that he met Mateen last year through a gay dating app
There has long been speculation about the gunman's sexuality as a reason behind the shooting – despite Mateen's declared support for ISIS during the tragedy.

One patron of the Pulse nightclub, Jim Van Horn, 71, said Mateen was a "regular" there.

Ty Smith remembered seeing Mateen at Pulse about a dozen times.

He said: "Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself."

His ex-wife Sitora Yusufiy also claimed that the shooter may have been gay.

She told Time: “He might have been homosexual himself and lived that lifestyle but could never ever come clean about it because of the standards of his father, because of the obligation to be a perfect son."
He said Mateen was upset after a threesome with two Puerto Rican men
Miguel added that Mateen never appeared to be violent. He said the 29-year-old was "looking for love" and "loved to be cuddled".

Miguel described Mateen as a "devout Muslim" but one who believed that the religion was "about love" and "welcomed everybody".

Univision claimed the FBI had spoken with the man named Miguel, but a law enforcement official would neither confirm nor deny this to CBS News.

The official did admit Mateen was a frequent user of online dating sites seeking relationships with both men and women.


June 22, 2016

Omar Mateen’s Gay Lover Says He did it for ‘Revenge’ Vs. GayRican’s and HIV

The alleged gay lover of Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen claims he did the shooting as “revenge” against Latino men.

The man, who spoke to Univision on the condition of anonymity, said Mateen held a grudge against Latino men he met at the gay nightclub Pulse because he felt used by them.

“I’ve cried like you have no idea. But the thing that makes me want to tell the truth is that he didn’t do it for terrorism. In my opinion he did it for revenge,” the man who said he was Mateen’s lover for two months told Univision.

The man told Univision that the FBI has interviewed him three times about Mateen. Univision reported that FBI said they have met with the man.

“He adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin, but he felt rejected. He felt used by them,” the man said. “There were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad. Guys used him. That really affected him.”

The man claimed that Mateen was upset after having a sexual encounter with two Puerto Rican men after one of them revealed he was HIV positive.

“He was terrified that he was infected,” the man told Univision. “I asked him, ‘Did you do a test?’ Yes. He went to the pharmacy and did the test … it came out negative, but it doesn’t come out right away. It takes four, five months.

“When I asked him what he was going to do now, his answer was, ‘I’m going to make them pay for what they did to me.’”

The called Mateen a “very sweet guy” and said he met him last year through a gay dating app.

CBS News and the Los Angeles Times previously reported that Mateen used gay dating apps. He also frequented the Pulse nightclub before killing 49 people more than one week ago.

The man claims he and Mateen met around 20 times, with the last meeting taking place in December. He said Mateen never revealed his name to him, but told him that he was 35 and married with a son. He told Univision that he believed Mateen’s wife knew that he went to gay bars and that his marriage was to hide the fact that he was “100 percent” gay.

CBS News reported that on the night of the shooting Mateen went into the club and received a wristband and left. He then returned nearly two hours later to begin his attack.

Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria during the attack on Facebook and 911 calls.

The FBI previously investigated him for possible terrorist ties but those investigations were closed due to lack of evidence.

June 20, 2016

Matthew Shepard Angels Blocked Protesters at Funeral of Orlando 2 Shooting Victims

'Angels' blocked anti-gay protesters from Orlando shooting victim's burial

Funerals for two of the 49 Orlando massacre victims took place amid anti-gay protesters and an impatient driver who cut through a funeral procession, injuring two deputies.

The four anti-gay protesters were from the homophobic Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church. They raised signs with anti-gay slogans outside the Cathedral Church of St. Luke, where services took place for Christopher Leinonen, who was one of those killed in the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Police formed a line between the Westboro protesters and the hundreds of funeral attendees, who included members of the LGBTQ community, priests, bikers, and locals.

The crowd cheered when members of Orlando's Shakespeare Theater wearing huge "angel wings" showed up to block out the Westboro protesters.

The wings, which measured eight feet across and rose three feet above their shoulders, were made of white cloth and plastic piping. Reuters reported that the wings first surfaced at the 1998 funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay student who was brutally murdered in Wyoming.

During the funeral procession for Jean Carlos Mendez in Kissimee, Florida, about 20 miles south of Orlando, a driver became impatient and cut through the procession, injuring two sheriff’s deputies on motorcycles. The mass shooting, which took place a week ago, killed 49 and injured scores more. On Saturday evening in Berlin, more than a thousand people attended a candle-lit vigil to show solidarity with the victims of the attack, their families, and the wider LGBT community. The Brandenburg Gate was lit up in rainbow colors.
 US Attorney General Loretta Lynch condemned last week’s mass shooting as “an act of terror and an act of hate," echoing the line used by President Barack Obama and others, and thereby acknowledging that when the gunman targeted a gay nightclub, he was targeting the LGBT community at large.
Reporting by VICE

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