- Trump is seeking to court the LGBT vote through a series of attacks on Hillary Clinton
- Perkins provides cover from religious conservatives
In the aftermath of last week's massacre at a gay Orlando nightclub, the presumptive Republican nominee has repeatedly made the argument he would be a better friend to the community than Hillary Clinton due to his anti-terror policies.
Emerging from a meeting with Trump and other evangelical leaders, Perkins told reporters, "In the context of what (Trump's) saying, I agree with him."
"What he is saying," Perkins continued, "is no American, regardless of political ideology or your life choices, should be living under threat of terrorist attack in the streets of the United States of America. So yes, LGBT, Catholic, Protestant, I don't care, atheist -- as one who wore the uniform of a United States Marine and as a police officer, no American, no American should live in fear and that's exactly what Donald Trump is saying."
Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as an anti-LGBT hate group
. In 2011, he excoriated the White House
for trying to "recruit" young Americans into an LGBT "lifestyle," which he described as a "perversion." He has been a long-time, vocal opponent of same-sex marriage.
Trump met with Perkins and other conservative Christian leaders in New York at the same time he is seeking to court the LGBT vote through a series of attacks on Clinton's relationships with leaders of repressive Middle Eastern governments.
"Ask the gays," he said at a rally in Atlanta last week, "what they think and what they do in, not only Saudi Arabia, but many of these countries, and then you tell me -- who's your friend, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?"
His message has met with mixed reviews from gay rights leaders and allies.
"I bet there is not a single family member or friend or brother or sister or girlfriend or boyfriend that is suffering from this great loss that found any comfort in what Donald Trump had to say today," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said after a recent Trump speech.
But Gregory Angelo, the president of the Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBT Republican group, praised Trump's rhetoric, saying he had "never seen a nominee so directly engage with and seek the support from LGBT voters."