The mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando Sunday morning, which killed at least 50 people, wasn’t just the deadliest mass shooting in American history — it’s the also the deadliest act of anti-LGBTQ violence.
On Sunday afternoon, President Obama addressed not only America, but also the world and highlighted what made this most recent act of terror unique.
This attack happened during LGBT Pride Month, a celebration that arose from violence, particularly police brutality, against LGBTQ people.
This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends — our fellow Americans — who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live.
The place where they were attacked is more than a nightclub — it is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights.”
The president is right. Our LGBT nightclubs and bars have been much more than just spaces to have fun on a Friday night. These venues are where people have organized, protested, pushed for progress, and found safe spaces amid a hostile outside world.
This wasn’t just an attack on Americans writ large — it was an attack on the freedoms that LGBTQ people have rallied for decades.
— White House Archived (@ObamaWhiteHouse) June 12, 2016
The president also used his speech to highlight the continued need to act against gun violence.
Sunday morning’s tragedy — the deadliest shooting in American history — is yet another example of why rampant gun violence in the U.S. is a uniquely American phenomenon.
This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.”
Hillary Clinton also shared a similar message. While reaffirming her support to toughen up gun control efforts, Clinton condemned the Orlando nightclub shooting as an act of “terror” and “hate” in a statement Sunday.
I join Americans in praying for the victims of the attack in Orlando, their families and the first responders who did everything they could to save lives. This is a time to stand together and resolve to do everything we can to defend our communities and country.”
She also identified herself as an ally of LGBT Americans in the statement. The mass shooting—the deadliest in American history—occurred at a gay nightclub.
We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear,” she said. “Hate has absolutely no place in America.”