In Orlando, a terrorist walks into a nightclub and murders nearly 50 human beings. Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters cut down in cold blood.
They did nothing wrong. They were dancing with friends, they were enjoying music with loved ones.
Why did the terrorist murder them?
Because he was driven by a fanatical hatred.
He targeted the LGBT community because he believed they were evil.
Now, the murderer wasn’t alone.
Regimes and terrorist organizations around the world ruthlessly persecute the LGBT community.
In Syria, ISIS throws gays off rooftops.
In Iran, the regime hangs gays from cranes.
Too many people have remained silent in the face of this awful persecution.
This week’s shooting wasn’t merely an attack on the LGBT community. It was an attack on all of us, on our common values of freedom and diversity and choice.
Radical Islamist terror makes no distinction between shades of infidel.
This week it was gays in Orlando. A few days before that it was Jews in Tel Aviv. Before that it was music fans in Paris; Travelers in Brussels; Yazidis in Iraq; Community workers in San Bernardino; Christians and journalists in Syria.
All of us are targets.
We believe that all people are created in the image of God.
ISIS, by contrast, believes that all people who aren’t just like them deserve to die.
We will not be terrified into submission.
We will fight back. And we will triumph.
Today I ask you to reach out to friends in the LGBT community. Comfort them.
Tell them you stand together, we stand together as one. And that you will always remember the victims.
Tell them they will never be alone, that we are all one family deserving of dignity, deserving of life.
I have no doubt that those who seek to spread hate and fear will be defeated.
Working together we will defeat them even faster.
We need to stand united, resolute in the belief that all people regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of their race, regardless of their ethnicity, all people deserve respect, deserve dignity.