How We Will Honor Their Memory

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June 12, 2016

This is the first time I am writing as your CEO, and I wish it were about anything else.

We don’t need to ask whether LGBT people were the targets of the terrible attack in Orlando. We know. This was both an act of terrorism against LGBT people and also a hate crime.

I felt sick as I read that the shooter had been “angered” by seeing men kissing. Sick that our love and our lives and our pride could be an excuse for murder. Sick that a Presidential candidate encourages violent response to disagreement. Sick that intolerance – unchecked – means that even a night out dancing with friends can end in gunfire.

Hate has been stirred up by the vicious anti-LGBT laws passed in North Carolina, Mississippi and elsewhere. Since Obergefell, hundreds of antigay and anti-trans laws have been introduced in states and local jurisdictions. While so many Americans have been inspired by our pride and our love, a nasty, opportunistic minority seeks to hurt us.

This is Pride month, and this year it is also Ramadan – the holiest time in the Muslim year. Lambda Legal has already received expressions of condolence and solidarity from Muslim leaders. LGBT people are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, every other faith as well as none. No true religion calls for harm to others, and Islam is no exception. Religion is no excuse for violence, and it is no excuse for bigotry and discrimination.

We are approaching the first anniversary of the terrible massacre in Charleston, which led the country to soul-searching and change about the symbols of racism. Let us honor the memory of those who died today by ensuring that federal and state laws explicitly protect LGBT people, including a federal anti-discrimination law and LGBT-inclusive hate crime laws across the country.

Until all LGBT people are accepted fully wherever they live, we will never have real safety and security. Lambda Legal will continue to fight for our communities and protect ourselves. Together we will succeed.