Gay Rights Group Calls for End to ‘Anti-LGBT Laws’ in Wake of Orlando Mass Shooting

Melanie Arter | June 13, 2016 | 12:02pm EDT
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In Orlando, the Rev. Kelvin Cobaris (center) consoles gay rights advocate Terry DeCarlo and City Commissioner Patty Sheehan. (AP Photo)

( – The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) used the mass shooting in Orlando over the weekend to call for an end to what it called “anti-LGBT laws” like those recently enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi.

“We can do nothing to bring back the lives of those murdered, but we can and must bring an end to the anti-LGBT bigotry and discrimination that are still rampant across this country and the world,” NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendall said in a statement Monday. “In the past two years, cowardly and irresponsible politicians have proposed more than 200 anti-LGBT laws—including those passed this year in North Carolina and Mississippi.

Kendall was referring to North Carolina’s H.B. 2 law, “an act to provide for single-sex multiple occupancy bathroom and changing facilities in schools and public agencies and to create statewide consistency in regulation of employment and public accommodations.” The law calls for bathrooms and changing facilities to be used according to one’s gender at birth, not their gender identity.

In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law, a bill that will prevent state and local governments from punishing businesses that don't want to actively participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies.

“Make no mistake, these laws and the pandering of so many elected officials to those who promote anti-LGBT bias, foster a toxic climate,” Kendall said.

“As we struggle to recover from this devastating attack, we must be clear: there is no place for hate in this country, and no excuse for any elected official to vilify vulnerable communities based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, national origin, religion, immigration status, or any other personal trait,” Kendall added.

Fifty people were killed and more than 50 injured in what is being called the worst mass shooting in U.S. history when a gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, opened fire in Pulse, a gay nightclub.

“Yesterday’s attack in Orlando was an act of terrifying hate toward our community. The shooter attacked an LGBT bar on Latinx night during Pride Month, brutally targeting innocent lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of color and others who had gathered to socialize and celebrate,” Kendall said.

“Our entire community and everyone who values human life is reeling from that unfathomable brutality. We are sickened by the loss of precious and irreplaceable lives. Our hearts ache for the families and friends of those murdered and the terrible devastation those losses will continue to bring in the day, months, and years ahead,” she added.   

Kendall also used the incident to call for an end to “anti-Muslim bias” and attempts to “demonize” the Muslim community.

“We must be especially vigilant against anti-Muslim bias and shameful attempts to demonize Muslim communities. How we respond to this horrific attack will be a test of our nation’s character, witnessed on a global scale,” Kendall stated.

As we reflect on and mourn these terrible losses, let us find the strength to transform our pain and grief into collective action and a deep, unshakeable resolve to hold ourselves and our elected officials accountable for building a world of equality, peace, and justice,” Kendall concluded.

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