April 14, 2017
Sen. Pat Toomey has been faced with backlash from his constituents for months for not holding an in-person town hall meeting. It's the got-to subject among his critics on Twitter, no matter what he posts.
Though, in a recent tweet from Toomey about the reported persecution of gay men in Chechnya, his position on the issue seemingly took some by surprise.
Here's a look at how a Toomey post usually goes.
@SenToomey my god, you are out of touch. Don't u hear your constituents asking/begging for town hall meeting??— Sjoholm (@Sjoholm181) April 3, 2017
Or how about:
There are pro-Toomey comments, too, but those calling for town hall meetings or asking him to change his stances on issues, like health care or the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, for example, are overwhelming.
Critics see Twitter at the only means of access to the senator, many constituents claiming they can't get in touch with staff at Toomey's offices despite calls, messages, emails and faxes. While Toomey has held town halls in rural counties, he's never hosted one in Philadelphia, according to Philly.com.
He has held several teleconferences – the most recent one happened this past week – and has also hosted a Q&A via Facebook Live in early March. Toomey has promised he would get to a town hall "at some point."
That all makes Thursday evening's events and Twitter reaction seem more unlikely. It began with Toomey tweeting a link to an editorial from the Washington Post calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin to release gay man held in Chechnya and to investigate why they were detained.
A Russian newspaper reported that gay men are fleeing persecution in Chechnya where police allegedly have been holding and torturing more than 100 people.
A Chechen government spokesperson has denied the report and said there are no homosexuals in the republic.
"Russia needs to stop horrendous #humanrights violations and 'honor killings' against gay men in #Chechyna," Toomey tweeted.
While what's happening in Chechnya is vastly a human rights issue, Toomey is far from a gay-rights advocate. He previously denounced the Supreme Court's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage across the nation in 2015.
Some of Toomey's followers appeared pretty pleasantly surprised, nonetheless.
@SenToomey Honestly Pat I'm really glad that you care about this because I'm not seeing a lot of others comment. Still, you got a lot to make up for.— a guy (@Hellapet) April 13, 2017
@SenToomey So does this mean you will advocate for LGBTQ rights in the US?— Julie (@JaxAndJule) April 13, 2017
Some wondered if Toomey's Twitter account had been hacked or if the tweet was just a "PR move."
@SenToomey This is the first sign of human empathy I've ever heard from you. Did you get hacked?— Amanda Grove (@Amandatory1515) April 13, 2017
Others urged Toomey to investigate Russian ties to the United States, while others criticized him for past anti-LGBTQ behavior.
@SenToomey With your record on LGBT affairs, you have a hell of a lot nerves to claim you care!— Todowoz (@todowoz) April 14, 2017
@SenToomey When are you going to do something about Trump's ties to Russia?— B Ortlip (@b_ortlip) April 14, 2017
@SenToomey Why the sudden flip in support of LBTQ discrimination, how about supporting rights in the US— Sandy Santello (@sasantello) April 14, 2017
@SenToomey What about your opposition to allowing gay people to enjoy the right to marry like all other Americans.— marilyn frank (@mfrank694) April 14, 2017
And of course, the inevitable: