LGBTQ outrage over DeSantis’ visit to NYC during Pride month

NEW YORK — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is scheduled to appear before a friendly conference of conservative Jewish leaders in New York on Sunday, despite efforts by gay rights advocates to have the event canceled.

LGBTQ groups, still outspoken over legislation banning the teaching of sexual orientation to elementary school students that DeSantis championed in his home state, vow to protest the Republican’s appearance at the Jewish Leadership Conference .

Critics have derisively called it the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman said it was ‘outrageous’ that the governor was speaking during Pride Month and in an area not far from the birthplace of the gay rights movement in Manhattan’s West Village.

He called DeSantis an “outspoken opponent of LGBTQ equality who tries to impose his agenda on LGBTQ families, and it’s extremely hurtful and painful.”

DeSantis campaign spokesman Dave Abrams did not respond directly to that criticism, but said the governor “will always stand up for what’s right and not be deterred by the radical left.”

DeSantis, who is widely believed to be considering a 2024 White House bid, inflamed the anger of LGBTQ groups when he signed into law a bill in March banning Florida schools from teaching sexual orientation and gender identity to kindergarten public school students. until the third year.

At the time of the bill’s signing, DeSantis said schools were a place for “education, not indoctrination.”

The Jewish Leadership Conference has already lost a venue in New York after adding DeSantis to its list of speakers.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage was supposed to host the annual gathering of conservative thinkers, but pulled out earlier this spring.

The museum cited security issues among its main concerns, along with a desire not to host political speakers, but in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, executives from the Tikvah Fund, the conference’s organizing group, said accused the museum of having a political litmus test.

“We know things go wrong when a Jewish institution – in this case, a museum whose goal is to keep Jewish heritage alive by remembering the Holocaust – turns around and tries to make its own intolerance a virtue,” wrote Eric, CEO of Tikvah. Cohen and its president, Elliott Abrams.

The editorial argued that protecting free speech was more important than concerns about the protests or a potential backlash from donors.

“The new cancel culture czars seem to have little moral imagination or civic tolerance,” they wrote.

The Coalition for Jewish Values, which says it represents more than 2,000 Orthodox rabbis, chastised the museum for denying DeSantis a platform.

The museum wrote its own editorial, saying its charter prohibited it from renting space for purely political or religious reasons.

“When we refused to host the event, Tikvah resorted to threats, saying we had created an enemy. Tikvah knew it was not about banning anyone from speaking, but decided anyway to make the false statement. We will not respond to such political intimidation,” wrote Jack Kliger, the museum’s president and CEO.

Pressure from outside groups is unlikely to derail the conference a second time.

A spokesperson for the new venue, Pier Sixty, located in the Chelsea Piers complex, said it was unable to mediate differences between the groups, saying it had a long history of inclusion . This month, his website offers support for Gay Pride Month.

“Pier Sixty has never discriminated against any group or organization and we have never based our acceptance of a booking quota on our approval of the speakers our clients choose to present at these private events,” said he said through a spokesperson.

“Our acceptance of a booking does not in any way imply that we endorse the respective organization or its speakers,” the statement read. “We are also extremely proud of our deep and longstanding connection with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Conference organizers were preparing for a planned protest outside the site on Sunday.

“We are working with law enforcement to ensure protesters can exercise their constitutional rights and also ensure the safety and comfort of our guests and speakers,” said Jonathan Silver, who co-chairs the conference for the Tikvah Fund.

DeSantis was listed as giving a speech on “The Florida Model and Why It’s Good for Religious America.”

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