Of the 50 Republican senators who issued statements in response to the Orlando massacre on Sunday, only three specifically mentioned the gay community — and none mentioned guns at all as a contributing factor in the incident.
TheWrap investigated official statements by every U.S. Senator in response to the slaughter of 49 people at the gay nightclub Pulse, both on their official websites as well as on social media.
And the findings reinforced the two parties’ divide on critical issues like terrorism, guns, LGBT rights and the threat of radical Islam even in the face of the most deadly mass shooting in U.S. history.
Here’s what TheWrap found:
- Of the 54 Republicans currently in the Senate, four released no statement at all: Thad Cochran (R-MS), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Mike Lee (R-UT). Heller’s last statement on his website came two days before the attack and touted a “pro-gun amendment seeking to protect concealed carry rights” that he filed to attach to the National Defense Authorization Act.
- All but one of the 46 senators who caucus with the Democrats made statements about the Orlando massacre, and more than half of them mentioned the LGBTQ community. (Cory Booker of New Jersey was the only Democrat who did not release a statement or tweet about the tragedy.)
- No Republicans mentioned guns in their statements despite the renewed criticism about the lack of restrictions for assault weapons.
- Thirteen Democratic senators mentioned guns in their statements.
- Nine Republic senators mentioned “radical Islam” or “Islamic terror” while no Democrats did.
Only three Republican senators — John McCain, Mark Kirk and Ted Cruz — made any reference to the LGBTQ community.
“To all those visited by fear in the aftermath of this attack, including the citizens of Orlando and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community across the nation, I can only say we must not and will not give in to fear,” McCain said.
It was a rare Republican reference to the fact that the 49 victims’ sexual orientation seem to have factored into their targeting by the late suspect, Omar Mateen. Democrats, who have long counted on the LGBT community as a voting bloc, were less reticent to draw the connection.
“Sunday’s violence was fueled by hatred — hatred which has no place in America,” Sherrod Brown, Ohio’s Democratic senator, said. “We want our LGBT friends and neighbors to know that we stand with you in your grief and outrage, and we will not tolerate hate.”
The discrepancy over the causes of the attack also broke along party lines. While 13 Democratic senators mentioned guns in their statements, only Republican Sen. Ted Cruz referenced the Second Amendment — to defend it.
“They [Democrats] will claim this attack, like they claimed every previous attack, was isolated and had nothing to do with the vicious Islamist theology that is daily waging war on us across the globe,” the Texas senator said. “And they will try to exploit this terror attack to undermine the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms of law-abiding Americans.”
Many Democrats have called for gun-related legislation — including mandatory background checks, barring the sale of guns to those on FBI watch lists and in some cases banning semiautomatic rifles like the ones used by Mateen.
The parties were similarly divided over religion. While the majority of senators from both parties referenced “terror” or “terrorism,” nine Republicans cited the threat of “radical Islam” or “Islamic terror” — which no Democrat did.
In addition, twice as many Republicans (36 to 18) mentioned “prayer.”
For the record: A previous version of this article identified New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen as a Republican. She is a Democrat, and TheWrap regrets the error.