This week, Tennesseans woke up to witness a nightmare in Orlando: another act of hate and terrorism in a place intended for fun and love. We awoke to learn that a man with a gun in his hands, hate in his heart, and consumed by rage against LGBTQ+ Americans, committed the largest mass shooting in our nation's history.
It doesn't matter how many attacks we endure like this one in Orlando, the shock and pain never fades. The murder of innocent people always stings and breaks our hearts, weakens our sense of security, and makes us livid.
We mourn the loss of those who were killed. We pray for the wounded and for all the loved ones grieving today. It is impossible to imagine what those families are going through.
However, we owe more than kind thoughts and prayers to these families and their memories.
We must take solid policy steps to stop this from happening again. We must make clear that we cannot demean or disparage a collective group of people for any reason. Inflammatory rhetoric to score cheap political points does nothing to solve the problems in our country. Discriminatory rhetoric against a religion or sexual orientation goes against every building block that supports this great nation.
We’re a loving and fair-minded state and country. We teach our children that we are one, united nation with liberty and justice for all - not a nation just for people who look a certain way, love a certain way, or worship a certain way.
To all the LGBTQ+ people grieving this week in Florida, Tennessee, and across the world, there are millions of allies who always have and always will have your back. From Stonewall to Laramie and now in Orlando, we have seen far too many times how the struggle to live freely and openly has been met with senseless violence.
We must stand together.
We must be proud together.
We must love one another.
There is no better way to respond to terrorism and hatred than by standing true to the ideas and principles our forebearers, abolitionists, suffragettes, activists, etc. believed in and fought for.
Together, we are stronger.
Chair, Tennessee Democratic Party