On Sunday, Americans woke up to a nightmare: Another act of terrorism in a place no one expected it, a man with a gun in his hands and hate in his heart, apparently consumed by rage against LGBT Americans — and, by extension, against the openness and diversity that define our way of life.
No matter how many times we endure attacks like this, the horror never fades. The murder of innocent people always breaks our hearts, tears at our sense of security, and makes us furious.
So many of us are praying for everyone who was killed, for the wounded and those still missing, and for all the loved ones grieving today. As a mother, I can’t imagine what those families are going through.
But we owe their memories and their families more than prayer. We must also take decisive action to strengthen our international alliances and combat acts of terror, to keep weapons of war off our streets, and to affirm the rights of LGBT Americans — and all Americans — to feel welcome and safe in our country.
Here’s what we absolutely cannot do: We cannot demonize Muslim people.
Inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric hurts the vast majority of Muslims who love freedom and hate terror. It’s no coincidence that hate crimes against American Muslims and mosques tripled after Paris and San Bernardino. Islamophobia goes against everything we stand for as a nation founded on freedom of religion, and it plays right into the terrorists’ hands.
We’re a big-hearted, fair-minded country. We teach our children that this is one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all — not just for people who look a certain way, or love a certain way, or worship a certain way.
I want to say this to all the LGBT people grieving today in Florida and across our country: You have millions of allies who will always have your back. I am one of them. From Stonewall to Laramie and now Orlando, we’ve seen too many examples of how the struggle to live freely, openly, and without fear has been marked by violence. We have to stand together. Be proud together. There is no better rebuke to the terrorists and all those who hate.
This fundamentally American idea — that we’re stronger together — is why I’m so confident that we can overcome the threats we face, solve our challenges at home, and build a future where no one’s left out or left behind. We can do it, if we do it together.
Thank you for standing together in love, kindness, and the best of what it means to be American.