I was asked to say a few words tonight. Here are some words that are on my mind.
Newtown. Chapel Hill. Charleston. Marysville. Colorado Springs. Killeen. San Bernardino. Blacksburg. Fort Hood. Tucson. Aurora. Columbine. Oak Creek.
And now . . . Orlando.
These are all words that used to have good connotations. Hometowns. Vacation spots. Peaceful American communities.
Today they’ve become shorthand for horror. For terror. For shattered lives. They’re the reason we have these vigils over, and over, and over.
It’s important to remember that the thing these tragedies have in common isn’t the victims. Shooters have targeted children. Soldiers. African-Americans at a bible study. Texans in a small-town cafeteria. Moviegoers. Postal workers. Medical professionals.
And now . . . gays and lesbians, mostly Latino, mostly young, celebrating their pride and their love.
Something else these tragedies don’t have in common is the perpetrators. Some were angry people, out for revenge. Some were clearly in the grip of a psychotic episode. Some called themselves Muslims. Some called themselves Christians. At least one was an avowed white supremacist. And some . . . we will never know what their motive was.
So the victims vary. The shooters vary. The thing that every one of these mass shootings have in common is simple: Guns in the wrong hands.
I’m not going to get political tonight, but let me say this one more time: Guns in the wrong hands. That’s a problem we have to solve if we hope to ever stop having to come together and light candles and remember the dead and wounded.
I know I’ve said more than a few words. I’m sorry. Tonight, let’s remember the innocent victims in Orlando, and all those before them. Tonight we stand with all people who are the targets of hate. We stand with respect and solidarity with our LGBTQ Community. Tonight there is no room for hate, no room for fear, and no room for intimidation. Tonight we are all LGBTQ. And tomorrow, let’s continue doing the hard work necessary to put a stop to this madness, this hate, this intimidation, and this fear.