Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump sparked controversy after waving a rainbow-colored, gay flag on which was written "LGBT's for Trump" during a recent rally in Colorado.
According to reports, Trump supporter Max Nowak gave the flag to the billionaire businessman, who unfurled it and then, smiling, walked across the stage with the rainbow banner to show others during a rally at the Bank of Colorado Arena at the University of Northern Colorado on Sunday.
Shortly after waving the flag before 3,000-4,000 supporters, Trump handed it to an aide and resumed the rally.
While the Trump campaign website makes available for purchase "LGBTQ for Trump" t-shirts and pins, his approval rating amongst LGBT adults sits at a mere 12 per cent - compared to Hillary Clinton's 55 per cent.
He has also declared that he is the best candidate for the "gay community" and vowed to protect LGBT citizens from the "violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology." However, the Human Rights Campaign points out that the GOP hopeful lamented the Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision - which legalized gay marriage nationwide - during a Fox News appearance and suggested that strategic Supreme Court appointments could overturn that ruling. His running mate, Mike Pence, also made headlines last year when he signed a religious freedom law that members of the LGBT community said could worsen discrimination against them.
Thus, Trump's latest gesture drew mixed responses from the LGBT community: "It's an empty gesture from the Republican nominee, who opposes marriage equality and has a proudly homophobic running mate," noted LGBT-focused newsmagazine The Advocate.
Concurred Independent contributor Dean Eastmond: "You don't have to be an expert on US politics to work out that Trump is far from the queer ally he regards himself as: A country ruled by the ex-Apprentice judge wouldn't be worth living in for the American LGBTQ+ community...Trump - waving a flag does not get you the gay vote. Do not mock us with your fake support of our community. You are not the leader for us."
In turn, Gay Trump supporter, Chris Barron, formerly of GOProud and now founder of the tiny LGBT for Trump tweeted early the next morning that "Trump made history last night" and is "the most pro-LGBT Pres candidate ever nominated by either party."
Meanwhile, Charisma News contributor Michael Brown urged Christians who may be offended by the move to look at their attitudes and expectations in why they are voting for Trump.
"First, Trump's courting of LGBT Americans is nothing new," he wrote. "Second, what Trump was excited about was that LGBT Americans were supporting him...Third, Trump genuinely wants to be a friend of conservative Christians, preserving their liberties and a friend of gay Americans, preserving their safety, and as far as I can tell, he has not yet come to grips with the inevitable conflicts that will arise between religious rights and gay rights."
He advised Christian voters to cast the ballot for the Republican with "eyes wide open, not making him into a larger than life deliverer who will save the day and turn the tide."
"To do so is to give place to myth rather than reality and to set ourselves up for disappointment," he explained.
Brown also called on citizens to "do our best to surround [Trump] with godly counsel" and to "look beyond the elections to our long-term duty as Christian citizens, committed to loving our neighbors as ourselves while refusing to compromise our biblical convictions."
He concluded: "I urge every Christian conservative who plans to vote for Donald Trump not to sell your soul to him as you vote, but rather to commit to pray for him, recognizing his many, serious flaws. And if he is elected, then pray all the more that he will be surrounded in the White House by men like Joseph and Daniel who will bring wise counsel to the Oval Office."