Today marks the 5th anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida. While to many it was yet another dark chapter in the American legacy of gun violence, to the LGBTQ+ community, the mayhem tore through our hearts as surely as the spray of an automatic weapon stole the lives of 49, wounded another 53, irrevocably altered the lives of hundreds, and left Orlando and the nation stunned.
Targeted, killed and wounded were the vibrant youth and allies of LGBTQ+ Orlandoans. Many victims were Black, Latino, and Latina, and the horrific cascade of gunfire was the culminating act of a deranged terrorist. It was hate in its most insidious and awful manifestation, and that legacy of hate has only been massaged and rejuvenated in the five years that have passed.
But throughout the roiling and often violent days of the Trump era and its aftermath, there are slight glimmers that the country may be ready to confront the ugliness. In a rare bipartisan vote, Congress passed HR 49, designating the Pulse site as a national memorial. The legislation passed the U.S. House on May 12, and the U.S. Senate voted for the bill unanimously just this week.
But the key to real progress is not in the bipartisan homage to victims, but in the conviction of those in power to take bipartisan action, and address American violence in its many forms forthrightly.
Like the Pulse survivors, who turned their devastating grief into action, we honor the victims by our own acts, whether by simply supporting local LGBTQ+ businesses as we emerge from COVID restrictions, or by being citizen advocates for common sense gun safety legislation overwhelmingly supported by a majority of Americans.
There are no Pride parades in which to march this June, but we can honor the victims of Pulse by paying it forward, and help make our state and our nation a little bit safer and a little bit more welcoming.
Democratic Party of Oregon