We know their names.
Stanley. Amanda. Oscar. Rodolfo. Antonio. Darryl. Angel. Juan. Luis. Cory. Tevin. Deonka. Simon. Leroy. Mercedez. Peter. Juan. Paul. Frank. Miguel. Javier. Jason. Eddie. Anthony. Drew. Alejandro. Brenda. Gilberto. Kimberly. Akyra. Luis. Geraldo. Eric. Joel. Jean. Enrique. Jean. Xavier. Christopher. Yilmary. Edward. Shane. Martin. Jonathan. Juan. Luis. Franky. Luis. Jerald.
We know where and when and how they died. And we know that every one of their stories represents someone who won’t get the chance to live out the future they deserved.
Our hearts are broken, and our thoughts are with the survivors still fighting for their lives. And to the LGBT community – in Orlando and across America – know this: I see you. I hear you. I’m with you. And I will do everything in my power to prevent future tragedies like this act of terror and hate.
That means acknowledging who was targeted in this attack. From the raids on the Stonewall Inn in New York, to the arson attack on UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans, to the detonation of a bomb at the Otherside Lounge in Atlanta – too often, places that should be safe for the LGBT community have instead been targets for violence. For all the progress we’ve made, it’s still far too dangerous to be gay in America.
LGBT people are now more likely than any other group to be the target of a hate crime. LGBT people of color face intersectional pressures and dangers. And a full 70 percent of victims of anti-LGBT murders in the United States are people of color – and the statistics are particularly striking for transgender people of color. So there’s a reason so many people seek out safe spaces.
In Orlando, that sense of security was shattered. The gunman specifically targeted the Latino LGBT community. In fact, it was “Latin Night” during Pride Month, a time that should have been a joyous celebration. When that feeling of safety comes under attack, all Americans must stand in solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters.
After the massacre, LGBT people from all over the country came forward to share how much this hit home. That’s because so many communities in America have somewhere like Pulse, where people can find a community and feel free to be themselves.
Yes, this is a time for reflection. But more importantly, this is a time for action. We need real plans to prevent future attacks and ensure the safety of the LGBT community and all Americans. Here’s mine.
First, we need to take on the epidemic of gun violence in America. Prohibiting suspected terrorists from buying guns – and expanding background checks so that terrorists can’t easily avoid that prohibition – should not be controversial. We can’t legislate hate away, but we can make it less deadly. That’s why I was so proud to see Democrats staging a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives, demanding a vote on commonsense gun reforms that the vast majority of Americans support.
Second, since we know that the gunman in Orlando was radicalized by terrorist propaganda, we need to disrupt and dismantle the global online network that groups like ISIS use to communicate and to inspire these horrible acts. As president, I’ll set up a task force to track and counter the threat of lone wolf attacks like these.
And third, let’s continue to fight for the ideal this attack intended to target: that no matter who you are, or who you love, you are equal in America. Let’s fight to enshrine that ideal in our laws—by passing the Equality Act. And let’s call out hateful rhetoric whenever and wherever we see it in our daily lives.
The attack at Pulse shook so many of us to our core. But in the weeks since, we have seen moving demonstrations of support – from the thousands of people attending vigils across the country, to the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for donating blood, to the people and groups on the ground in Orlando who have come together to support their LGBT friends, neighbors, colleagues, and loved ones.
So know that you have allies who are looking out for you. People like Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, whose leadership and support during this crisis ought to be a model for other local leaders. And you have millions of Americans celebrating Pride Month alongside you.
I’m one of them. And I’ll never stop fighting for your right to live freely, openly, and without fear.