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Op-Ed: We Are Not Okay

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While the LGBT community is strong, we are not okay, but when you come for one minority, you come for us all.

My fiancé and I live in St. Petersburg, Florida, where it’s not uncommon to take an “Orlando weekend.” We’re about an hour and a half away from Pulse.

Last November, we took one of those weekends. We went to Pulse with many of our friends and celebrated a friend’s birthday. We all laughed there. Took pictures there. Sang there. Hugged there. Danced there. Felt safe there. (Why wouldn’t we?)

Last Saturday night, 320 other people did the same. They all laughed there. Took pictures there. Sang there. Hugged there. Danced there. Felt safe there.

53 of them were injured there. 49 more of them died there.

But you know that. You know that the LGBT community is now at the epicenter of the country’s deadliest mass shooting, and the worst domestic terror attack since 9/11. Still, let that sink in, because not everyone has. Please, read it again:

The LGBT community, targeted because of who they love, how they love, or whose love they support, is now at the epicenter of the country’s deadliest mass shooting, and the worst terror attack since 9/11.

Sons, daughters, brothers, sisters. Cousins. Best friends. Music lovers, pet owners, activists. Gone.

But the LGBT community is strong. We’re strong because we’ve always had to be. When our only way to find acceptance was at a seedy bar, and when even our right to do that was threatened, the patrons of Stonewall showed us what strength was in 1969. We carry that with us, all of us, inherently, because we’ve never had any other choice.

In 2016, we now have generations of us who have fought for our equality. We carry their strength within us, if only in the fact that perhaps for one moment, we didn’t second-guess ourselves before showing even the most minuscule display of public affection toward someone we love.

So perhaps now we’re stronger than ever. The outpouring of love and support after the massacre at Pulse, and the solidarity that so many communities have shown ours, is a stark difference from the political climate of 1969. Our rights have flourished.

The day following the massacre, I lasted half a day at work. I felt so disconnected from so many of those around me: those that acknowledged this as a sad story, sure, or perhaps that it was shocking that it was so close. (“Only over in Orlando!”)

I couldn’t fathom it. I couldn’t think about anything else. The country’s deadliest mass shooting, and the worst domestic terror attack since 9/11, was not just another sad story. It was the only story.

And that’s why, if you’re reading this—as a member of the LGBT community or not, please know that while we are strong:

We are not okay.

We are not okay when you criminalize the Muslim community because of the actions of one evil man. We have been the Muslim community: hated, feared, misunderstood. Questioned, berated, threatened, afraid to show our faces. Why would we condone treating an entire community as poorly as ours has been treated in the past, and in many scenarios, still is? When you come for one minority, you come for us all.

We are not okay when gay and bisexual men who have not been celibate for one year are unable to donate the much-needed blood to save the lives of our LGBT brothers and sisters. We do not forget that it took 30 years to even amend the Reagan-era rule which initially forbade us from giving blood at all.

We are not okay when a reality television star running for president panders to us in the wake of such an extensive loss of our lives to lie to the American people. To say that “the LBGT community is just, what’s happened to them it’s just so sad, and to be thinking about where their policies are currently with this administration is just a disgrace to that community, I will tell you right now.”

We are not okay when that Republican presumptive nominee determines for us what is a disgrace to our community. We have that covered, and I’ll give you a hint: it’s orange. He opposes same-sex marriage and supports the First Amendment Defense Act, allowing for the right to discriminate against us. He calls LGBT “LBGT” because he doesn’t know it’s LGBT. It certainly isn’t his administration’s era which repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or supports the civil rights of transgender students. (Oh, and there’s the bit about this administration’s fight to allow us to marry.)

We are not okay with the elected officials who pretend they haven’t cultivated an environment in which murderers could view us as second-class citizens, as they “defended the Constitution” hearing by hearing. By hearing.

We are not okay with the elected officials who ignore that it was our community who was targeted in this massacre. We know that we were targeted, and we will not allow you to erase our brothers and sisters in death the way that you erased them during their lives, vote by vote. By vote.

And finally, we are not okay that a man who had previously been questioned by the FBI could so readily, so easily, so legally, buy the AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle that he used to rob us of 49 lives. The same weapon which has no waiting period to obtain, in a state where no license is required to buy or carry it. In a country which the same weapon was used to murder 26 people and wound two more in Sandy Hook. To murder 12 and wound 70 in Aurora, Colorado. To murder 10 and wound 9 in Roseburg, Oregon. To murder 14 and wound 22 in San Bernardino.

Was Orlando different because my fiancé personally knew a victim? Was it different because nearly everyone from my immediate community on Facebook had to wonder if one of their friends were dead? Was it that Pulse was an hour and a half away? Sort of.

Every mass shooting has disgusted me. It’s filled me with rage, and with hurt, and made me question the greatness of this country as lawmakers do nothing. As more innocent people die. This didn’t disgust me more. It disgusted me differently. More intimately.

More intimately because if that shooter had opted to go to Pulse last November, instead of last weekend, most of of my immediate friends would be dead. Our Pomeranian and our Jack Russell would wonder why we still weren’t home. My family in Ohio wouldn’t be coming to my wedding at the end of this year, they’d have been coming to my funeral long before it could’ve ever taken place.

And I am urging you, all of you – if we truly are all Orlando – to make sure that the next mass shooting, and there will be another, isn’t the community you call home. That it doesn’t speak to you intimately.

Speak out. Be heard. Be seen.

Vote.

Silence is acceptance, and we owe it to those in Orlando, in Sandy Hook, in Aurora, in Roseburg, in San Bernardino, to become the voices that they lost.

 

Image by Maia Weinstock via Flickr and a CC license

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BREAKING NEWS

Watch: Merrick Garland Calls Trump’s Bluff, Strikes Back at MAGA World’s False Claims in Mar-a-Lago Raid

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Attorney General Merrick Garland in an exceptionally rare public statement told the American people Thursday afternoon that he personally approved the search warrant used to enter Mar-a-Lago and confiscate the 10 to 12 cartons of federal government property, which reportedly included classified documents. He also called Donald Trump’s bluff, announcing he has asked a federal court to unseal the search warrant, which will allow the public to know what laws DOJ believes he has violated.

Noting that Donald Trump made public the raid on Mar-a-Lago and the Dept. of Justice did not, Garland cited “the substantial public interest in this matter,” in announcing his move to have the documents unsealed.

“The department did not make any public statements on the day of the search,” Garland stated. “The former president publicly confirmed the search that evening, as is his right. Copies of both the warrant and the FBI property receipt were provided on the day of the search to the former president’s counsel, who was on site during the search.”

READ MORE: Nearly Half the Country Supports FBI Mar-a-Lago Search – Only Republicans Are Opposed, New Poll Shows

That statement refutes the false claims made by many on the right that FBI agents refused to hand over the search warrant or inventory list.

“The search warrant was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause, the property receipt is a document that federal law requires law enforcement agents to leave with the property owner,” he added, making clear that a federal judge did agree there was probably cause to execute a search.

“Faithful adherence to the rule of law is the bedrock principle of the Justice Department and of our democracy. upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor, under my watch that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing. All Americans are entitled to the even handed application of the law, to due process of the law and to the presumption of innocence.”

“I personally approved the decision to seek a search warrant in this matter,” Garland announced, which was largely assumed.

Garland also responded to the growing chorus of far right wing extremists, pundits, and even and GOP lawmakers who are attacking DOJ.

“Let me address recent unfounded attacks on the professionalism of the FBI and Justice Department agents and prosecutors. I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked. The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants every day. They protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their safety, while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves. I am honored to work alongside them. This is all I can say right now.”

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BREAKING NEWS

Watch Live: Attorney General Merrick Garland to Make a Statement This Afternoon

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Attorney General Merrick Garland will deliver a statement Thursday afternoon at 2;30 PM ET, the Dept. of Justice has announced.

The subject of his address was not included. A gunman threatened and attacked an FBI Field Office in Ohio earlier Thursday, and the far right and Republicans have been outraged over the execution of a search warrant by the FBI Monday at Mar-a-Lago, which resulted in the confiscation of classified materials and federal government property.

Watch live below.

DOJ website feed:

PBS News feed:


 

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BREAKING NEWS

Nearly Half the Country Supports FBI Mar-a-Lago Search – Only Republicans Are Opposed, New Poll Shows

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Americans on the right are so outraged the FBI, having probable cause and a federal judge’s signature on a legal and valid search warrant, showed up at Mar-a-Lago Monday to confiscate what we now know were between ten and 12 cartons of federal government property, including classified documents.

Trump supporters upon hearing the news almost immediately began calling for civil war, with right wing media including Fox News and other far right outlets reinforcing those attacks.

But a brand new poll just released finds that, as with most issues, Republicans stand alone in their opposition and outrage.

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“Just about half of registered voters approve of the FBI search of Trump’s Florida compound,” reveals Politico’s Morning Consult polling, published Thursday afternoon.

Specifically, 49 percent of registered voters support the raid. 37 percent, slightly more than one-third, oppose it, and 13% don’t know.

But the political breakdown reveals what many would expect.

84% of Democrats support the FBI’s execution of the search warrant on the former president’s home.

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47% of independents also support the raid, with just 33% opposed.

But a whopping 72% of Republicans are opposed to the FBI’s actions, and just 15% are in support.

The Morning Consult poll also finds that a “majority of voters believe Trump either ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ broke the law while he was president.”

That includes 90% of Democrats, 59% of independents, and 24% of Republicans.

 

 

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