The Georgia congressman who last month read a Bible verse to the House Republican Conference calling for the death of homosexuals stands by his actions, without regrets. But he told CQ that he and his wife are praying for the loved ones of those killed in a mass shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend.
“My wife and I, our prayers are with those family and friends,” GOP Rep. Rick W. Allen said in an interview. “The members of Congress who represent that district are just devastated.”
The shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Florida has so far claimed the lives of 49 people and is the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. While the investigation is still underway, it appears the shooter targeted the nightclub because of the sexual orientation of club patrons.
Allen told CQ he does not feel a need to clarify his intention behind reading from Romans 1:18-32 and Revelations 22:18-19 during the May 26 Republican conference meeting. Allen read the verses prior to a floor vote on the Energy-Water spending bill, which was then voted down in a 112-305 vote, with 130 Republicans voting against the bill. The bill’s rejection was largely attributed to its inclusion of an amendment from New York Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney that would have affirmed an executive order barring LGBT discrimination in federal contracting. Conservative advocates outside Congress urged that members turn down the bill on the basis of the Maloney amendment.
In the aftermath, gay rights advocates called on top Republicans to condemn the “vile and dangerous remarks” and censure Allen.
“At a time when LGBT people face staggering rates of discrimination, harassment and violence, Rep. Allen’s comments spread hate that does real harm,” JoDee Winterhof, a senior vice president at the LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.
Maloney, who heard about the Republican conference prayer from another representative, said the prayer and the vote speaks to the values Republicans hold.