This past weekend's attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando was a frequent topic in Donald Trump's hour-long rally at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.
"Unthinkable," Trump said. "And when you listen to the stories of what took place and the laughter as this man was shooting incredible people. How can this possibly be happening in the United States of America? How can this be happening?"
The killing of nearly 50 patrons of a club early Sunday morning by an American-born Muslim man has caused ripples in the presidential campaign. Trump has been hammered by some Republicans and Democrats for his original response to the slaughter.
While on Wednesday he re-iterated his call for at least a temporary ban on immigration from Muslim countries with ties to terrorism, he also said: "We have to be tough. And we have to smart. We have to be vigilant. We have to have people report other people when that happens."
If the country doesn't wise up, Trump said, it will keep happening.
"I hate to say it but it’s going to happen again and again and again," he said. "Because we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing."
All of this led to Trump making one of his signature boasts.
"The LGBT community, the gay community, are so much in favor of what I’ve been talking about," Trump said.
A voice in the Fox Theater audience responded with an epithet that begins with an F-word and ends with "you."
Trump pushed on, however, and said when he opened a golf club in Palm Beach, Fla., he made sure it was more open than other clubs.
"I opened my club, which nobody would do, nobody would do," he said. "It's open to everybody. A member of the club, a great guy, who's gay, wrote a letter saying what Donald Trump did what nobody else would do."
Others, however, were not quite as willing to credit Trump for his LGBT bonafides.
“Let's be clear: LGBTQ people are Muslims. We are also Jews and Christians, women and immigrants, people of color and those living with disabilities," Jay Brown, communications director for the Human Rights Campaign. "We are as diverse as the fabric of our nation. And Donald Trump's attack on Muslims is intended to divide us. The person who committed this heinous act of violence was an American citizen conditioned to hate and to believe that LGBTQ people deserved to be massacred. And make no mistake, Donald Trump is no friend of the LGBTQ community. Donald Trump has vowed to roll back marriage equality, pass Kim Davis-style discrimination and allow governors from coast to coast to pass laws like North Carolina's HB2. Trump's rhetoric today isn't fooling anyone and what he is peddling isn’t protection. It’s poison."
We'll have more on Trump's visit later, both here and on our premium site, myajc.com, and in Thursday's print edition.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.