Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) walks onto the stage to participate in the North Texas Presidential Forum at Prestonwood Baptist Church Oct. 18, 2015 in Plano, Texas.
Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty

Cruz sees Orlando massacre as possible wedge issue

When President Obama addressed the massacre in Orlando yesterday, he took time to recognize “all our friends – our fellow Americans – who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.” Hillary Clinton’s statement did the same, noting, “The gunman attacked an LGBT nightclub during Pride Month. To the LGBT community: please know that you have millions of allies across our country. I am one of them.”
Congressional Republicans, by and large, chose to overlook this relevant detail. GOP officials, including staunch opponents of gay rights, were eager to condemn the mass shooting, but most were silent on the fact that the gunman targeted not just Americans in general, but LGBT Americans specifically.
In an interesting twist, though, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was a notable exception. The right-wing Texan is a fierce opponent of expanding civil rights to the LGBT community, but note how his statement yesterday referenced the Orlando gunman’s targets.
“For all the Democrats who are loud champions of the gay and lesbian community whenever there is a culture battle waging, now is the opportunity to speak out against an ideology that calls for the murder of gays and lesbians.
“ISIS and the theocracy in Iran (supported with American taxpayer dollars) regularly murder homosexuals, throwing them from buildings and burying them under rocks. This is wrong, it is evil, and we must all stand against it. Every human being has a right to live according to his or her faith and conscience, and nobody has a right to murder someone who doesn’t share their faith or sexual orientation.
“If you’re a Democratic politician and you really want to stand for LGBT, show real courage and stand up against the vicious ideology that has targeted our fellow Americans for murder.”
Got that? Republicans in general were loath to mention the role of anti-LGBT attitudes in the Orlando attack, but Cruz saw an opportunity – not because of his sympathies, but because the slayings might be a wedge issue.
Follow Cruz’s logic here:
1. Violent religious crackpots are anti-gay.
2. Democrats support gay rights.
3. Therefore, Democrats should join the Republicans’ anti-Muslim campaign.
What’s especially striking about Cruz’s statement is the degree to which he thinks he’s alerting progressives to details he assumes they don’t know. There are lunatics out there, the Republican senator argued, so Democrats should “stand up against the vicious ideology that has targeted our fellow Americans for murder.”
First, I’m pretty sure Dems already knew that the violent religious crackpots are anti-gay. Second, Cruz’s call for his fellow Americans to “stand up against the vicious ideology” is ridiculous – since no one in American public life supports the terrorists’ violent worldview.
What Cruz doesn’t seem to appreciate is the fact that the LGBT community and its allies already know that radicalized loons hate gay people – just as we know Ted Cruz pals around with Christian extremists who believe Scripture demands the death penalty for homosexuality.

Update: When Cruz claimed Iran’s government is “supported with American taxpayer dollars,” it’s important to note that he’s plainly wrong. Iran does not receive government funding from the United States, as Cruz should probably understand.