Progressive Congress Calls for Bold Action and Solidarity in the Wake of the Orlando, Florida Massacre
Olivia Alperstein, Communications and Policy Associate
Washington, D.C. — Each year, when we celebrate Pride Month in June, we remember how far we have come; just last year, same-sex marriage became the law of the land, and the nation erupted in celebration. A great deal of pain and anguish came before — the LGBT rights movement began as a groundswell of thousands of people demanding to be considered human, to not be seen as deviants and criminals, simply for who they loved or how they identified their gender.
The days of Stonewall may be over, but we have not come far enough. The horrific shooting in Orlando, FL deprived people of their humanity on the very day that they were celebrating their identities. This was a crime against the queer community that goes directly against our American values, an attempt to instill fear and frighten people into hiding their identities, to erase them permanently; the perpetrator sought to target these people simply for being themselves. That is why it is all the more important that Americans unite to condemn this terrible act of violence; we are a nation in which people are supposed to be free, to live without fear and without apology.
We must do more to make that a reality. Queer people are still being beaten and killed for their identities. People are still slammed into lockers and thrown out of their homes for being openly gay or transgender, and in many states, they can still be fired on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender expression, or identity. Too many young, queer people are homeless. Too many are lost to suicide or murder. The sheer number of people lost today in Orlando has left us beyond anguish. Who knows how many of the victims may have still been in the closet; the notification of their families may be the first time that their relatives may learn about their identities. Who knows how many of them were stepping out of the shadows for the first time. Each person's story was cut short when they deserved most to be celebrated for their courage.
That brave act of accepting oneself must be met with equal acceptance from fellow Americans. We all must stand together and demand tolerance and acceptance, and includes recognizing that this hate crime does not reflect the viewpoint of all or even most Muslim Americans. We stand with the LGBT community, the Muslim community, and the queer Muslim community as they mourn and face the inevitable backlash that this event has instigated. Hate crimes are on the rise in this country against all of these groups, and it is our responsibility to counter bigotry with a clear message of acceptance and embracing of diversity.
This awful of act of terror should not be met with further hatred and bigotry. This is the deadliest shooting in the United States, and we must act to prevent such crimes. We must demand an end to gun violence. We call on Congress to act bravely and boldly in the face of this tragedy, to prohibit discrimination, and to enact measures that make sure those who wish to take the lives of innocent people do not have access to guns to commit such massacres.
This act of terror will not stop any of us from celebrating Pride; instead, Americans and the world will shout louder for acceptance and equality. We join people around the world as we raise our fists a little higher and yell a little louder. We will take to the streets once again to demand equality with the painful reminder that people's lives are at stake.