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Op-Ed: One Year Later, We Are Still Not Okay



We Owe it to Those in Orlando to Become the Voices They Lost

My husband 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 the site of the Pulse Massacre.

We haven’t gone.

Not because we don’t want to pay our respects, and not because we haven’t been to Orlando. Not because my husband knew one of the victims or that you can’t really go anywhere in the Florida “gay scene” without talking to someone who knew someone that was at Pulse on June 12, 2016.

Not even because my husband and our friends had celebrated a friend’s birthday at Pulse just months before the massacre, only reaffirming that it could’ve been us or any one of our friends that had been there that night.

We haven’t been because the Pulse Massacre, the anti-gay hate crime which one year ago today claimed the lives of 49 people, injured 68 more, and remains the worst terror attack on American soil since 9/11 and the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, is still just too fresh.

We’re no longer numb, but even now, a year later, we’re still not okay.

Those men and women, mostly people of color, were targeted because of how they looked, who they loved, how they loved, or whose love they supported. On June 12, 2016, the LGBT community found itself at the center of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and even today, that’s a fact that can’t be stressed enough.

Sons, daughters, brother, sisters, cousins, best friends, music lovers, pet owners and activists were all taken from us that night, robbed from their families, their friends and their futures.

But as I noted then, the LGBT community is strong. We’re strong because we’ve always had to be. Because in 1969, 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.

It’s a strength we carry with us, even if we don’t always recognize it as such. Those men and women, and those that fought after them, gave us their strength: 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.

We now carry the strength of the Pulse Massacre victims with us, too.

A lot’s happened in a year.  For me personally, I got married. For America, Donald Trump won the Electoral College and became the 45th President of the United States. And for the world, Britney Spears released her ninth studio album. (Kidding. I mean, she did… but I digress.)

I don’t pretend to speak for the entire LGBT community. But I can tell you that for many of us, we weren’t okay a year ago, we haven’t been okay since, and if we seem “off” today, it’s because:

We are still not okay.

We’re not okay that in 2017 alone, Republicans have introduced over 100 anti-LGBT bills in 20 states. Or that following their “thoughts and prayers” last year, they’ve done nothing to change the laws that allowed a madman who’d previously been questioned by the FBI to so readily, so easily, so legally, obtain an AR-15-style semi-automatic assault rifle.

We’re not okay when the Muslim community is demonized because of the actions of one evil man or group. Many of us are Muslim, and we’ve all “been” the Muslim community: hated, feared, misunderstood. Questioned, berated, threatened, afraid to show our faces. Detained. When you try to ban one of us, you try to ban us all. 

We’re not okay that the Secretary of Education admitted that she wouldn’t work to prohibit LGBT discrimination for students. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24, a rate that’s four times greater for queer youth. The Human Rights Campaign found that since the election, almost 50% of LGBT youth said they’d taken steps to hide their orientation, with 70% saying they’d witnessed bullying, hate messages or harassment.

We’re not okay that a man who favored conversion therapy to “needy” HIV treatment, who said that LGBT service members weakened the military and cost the Indiana economy $60 million for his “license to discriminate” against us now calls himself the Vice President of the United States.

And we’re not okay when the president himself completely ignored LGBT Pride, opting instead to declare June as, among other things, “National Home Ownership Month.” The silence is telling, even dangerous, especially after Pulse. One need only look at the ongoing decimation of Transgender people in modern America, particularly transgender women of color, to see the danger in it.

So we’re certainly not okay when that president offers his hollow thoughts on the massacre’s anniversary, complete with no mention of the LGBT community. A president that, one year ago today as a candidate, was quick to politicize the tragedy and even claim that he “called it,” attempting to use the 49 deaths “he’ll never forget” to justify his unconstitutional Muslim ban. (The madman responsible was born in New York.)

And that’s to say nothing of his subsequent lies and pandering for the LGBT vote, nor the speech he gave ten minutes from the site, without visiting it, to anti-LGBT leaders two months later. As I said, my husband and I still haven’t gone: there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a place of healing for many, reclaimed after tragedy—but for us, it’s still too soon.

Donald Trump just didn’t care to go. And the fact that he pushed for his pro-gun agenda just eight days after the recent terror attacks in London only speaks to that fact.

On the anniversary of this heartbreaking, mind-numbing tragedy, if we’re truly “One Pulse,” truly “One Orlando,” it’s important that we recognize that we still aren’t okay – but more importantly, act upon it. 

Speak out. Be heard. Be seen. Vote in 2018. Vote in 2020.

Silence is acceptance, and we owe it to those in Orlando to use their strength and become the voices that they lost.

In loving memory of Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old. Amanda L. Alvear, 25 years old. Oscar A. Aracena Montero, 26 years old. Rodolfo Ayala Ayala, 33 years old. Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old. Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old. Angel Candelario-Padro, 28 years old.

Of Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 years old. Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old. Cory James Connell, 21 years old. Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old. Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old. Simón Adrian Carrillo Fernández, 31 years old. Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old.

Of Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old. Peter Ommy Gonzalez Cruz, 22 years old. Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old. Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old. Frank Hernandez, 27 years old. Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old. Javier Jorge Reyes, 40 years old.

Of Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old. Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old. Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old. Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old. Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old. Brenda Marquez McCool, 49 years old. Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25 years old.

Of Kimberly Jean Morris, 37 years old. Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old. Luis Omar Ocasio Capo, 20 years old. Geraldo A. Ortiz Jimenez, 25 years old. Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old. Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old. Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old. Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old. 

Of Jean Carlos Nieves Rodríguez, 27 years old. Xavier Emmanuel Serrano-Rosado, 35 years old. Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old. Yilmary Rodríguez Solivan, 24 years old. Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old. Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old. Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old.

Of Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24 years old. Juan Pablo Rivera Velázquez, 37 years old. Luis Sergio Vielma, 22 years old. Franky Jimmy DeJesus Velázquez, 50 years old. Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old, and Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old.

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Pelosi Delivers Brutal Response After McCarthy’s Acting Replacement Orders Her to Vacate Her Office Immediately



Within hours of Kevin McCarthy being ousted as Speaker of the House late Tuesday afternoon, his hand-picked acting successor, U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), ordered Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi to vacate her Capitol Hill offices “by tomorrow.”

McHenry, whose title technically now is “Speaker Pro Tempore,” is a staunch McCarthy ally who worked diligently behind the scenes in January to help the now-former Speaker get elected on the fifteenth attempt, had an aide issue the order.

“‘Please vacate the space tomorrow, the room will be re-keyed,’ wrote a top aide on the Republican-controlled House Administration Committee,” Politico reported Tuesday night. “The room was being reassigned by the acting speaker ‘for speaker office use,’ the email said.”

Politico adds that “House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ staff helped Pelosi’s office make the move, according to a spokesperson for the former speaker.”

Pelosi, who was honored with the title “Speaker Emerita” in 2022 by the House Steering and Policy Committee in an effort to help unite the House, did not vote for or against McCarthy’s ouster. She remained in California to attend the funeral of her friend and colleague, the late U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

READ MORE: ‘Radical Left Marxists’: Trump Launches Attack Hours After Judge Imposes Gag Order

But Pelosi, the first and only woman Speaker of the House, who served from 2007 to 2011 and again from 2019 to 2023, did not take McHenry’s order lying down.

“With all of the important decisions that the new Republican Leadership must address, which we are all eagerly awaiting, one of the first actions taken by the new Speaker Pro Tempore was to order me to immediately vacate my office in the Capitol,” Pelosi said in a statement, according to Politico’s Nicholas Wu. “Sadly, because I am in California to mourn the loss of and pay tribute to my dear friend Dianne Feinstein, I am unable to retrieve my belongings at this time.”

“This eviction is a sharp departure from tradition. As Speaker, I gave former Speaker Hastert a significantly larger suite of offices for as long as he wished,” She noted.

“Office space doesn’t matter to me, but it seems important to them,” Pelosi added. “Now that the new Republican Leadership has settled this important matter, let’s hope they get to work on what’s truly important to the American people.”

READ MORE: ‘Terrorist Attacks’: Murphy and Cornyn Slam House GOPers Over McCarthy Ouster


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‘Radical Left Marxists’: Trump Launches Attack Hours After Judge Imposes Gag Order



Just hours after New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron imposed a limited gag order and directed Donald Trump to remove his social media post targeting and attacking, by name, the judge’s law clerk, the ex-president Tuesday evening issued an attack targeting the legal system, and apparently, by extension, Attorney General Letitia James.

Judge Engoron’s Tuesday order barred Trump from “posting, emailing or speaking publicly about any of my staff,” as Politico reported. The judge’s gag order did not extend to any officer of the court, witnesses, or anyone else involved in Attorney General James’ $250 million civil fraud case against Trump.

“Consider this statement a gag order forbidding all parties from posting, emailing or speaking publicly about any of my staff,” Engoron said Tuesday afternoon. “Failure to abide by this order will result in serious sanctions.”

Judge Engoron had announced in court: “This morning one of the defendants posted to his social media account a disparaging, untrue and personally identifying post about a member of my staff.”

“Personal attacks on members of my court staff are unacceptable, inappropriate and I will not tolerate them in any circumstances,” Engoron added.

Politico described Trump’s social media post as “a message alleging [the law clerk] ‘is running this case against me.’ The message was pulled from an account on X with fewer than 200 followers. Trump then linked to an Instagram account for Greenfield’s campaign for a judgeship in Manhattan civil court.”

READ MORE: ‘Part of the Authoritarian Playbook’: Trump’s Courthouse Rant Slammed by Fascism Scholars

“’How disgraceful! This case should be dismissed immediately!!’ Trump added. He also posted a photo of her alongside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and referred to her as ‘Schumer’s girlfriend.'”

And while the judge ordered the social media post taken down, there’s nothing that can be done about the email blast Trump sent to “millions” of his supporters that included the post, as The New York Times reported.

Tuesday evening, despite having already been given one gag order, Trump appeared to tear into the legal system and Attorney General Letitia James in a series of false claims.

After claiming James’ civil lawsuit against him was unconstitutional and election interference, Trump wrote the decision to apply that statute to him “was done by Radical Left Marxists design, and is not the America we know.”

“It is so unfair that I am being tried under Section 63(12), which is unconstitutionally being used to punish me because I am substantially leading Crooked Joe Biden in the polls,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “It is a Consumer Protection Statute, and not meant, at all, for Election Interference purposes, which is what this is all about! Under this Section of the law, I am not even entitled to a JURY (there is no checking of a box alternative!).This was done by Radical Left Marxists design, and is not the America we know. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

As The New Yorker reported last week, the law Trump is referring to was “passed at the behest of one of” James’ “Republican predecessors, Jacob Javits.”

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‘Terrorist Attacks’: Murphy and Cornyn Slam House GOPers Over McCarthy Ouster



After U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and seven of fellow far-right House Republicans voted to oust their own Speaker of the House for supporting a bipartisan vote to keep the federal government of the United States from a shutdown, a powerful Senate Republican and Democrat are both strongly denouncing the work of the few GOP extremists who toppled Kevin McCarthy.

U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a hard-core Republican of Texas and a former member of the Senate Republican leadership team, blasted the eight House Republicans for their “terrorist attack,” and warned it will happen again.

“We saw a similar thing happen to Boehner, Ryan, and now McCarthy. I’m sure the next speaker is going to be subjected to the same terrorist attacks,” Senator Cornyn said, according to HuffPost’s Igor Bobic.

Responding to a Texas radio talk show host from his official social media account, Sen. Cornyn added, “A handful [of] House members just want to blow up the institution and themselves in the process. Sad.”

READ MORE: McCarthy Ousted as Speaker in Historic First as Republicans Vow Vengeance Against Gaetz: ‘Kiss My A–’

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) called the ouster “a deeply embarrassing moment for America. A consequence of a Republican Party that has become so radicalized that it can no longer function as an organized political party.”

“Nobody should be rooting for this circus,” added Sen. Murphy in video recorded as he watched the House voting to remove McCarthy as Speaker. He warned that the ouster of McCarthy will now take the House away from the critical work of keeping the government open after November 17, “instead of working on a budget.” And he warned that no new funds to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war have been authorized.

“These are life and death stakes,” Murphy said, lamenting this “makes us look so weak and foolish around the world.”

Watch Sen. Murphy’s remarks above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Part of the Authoritarian Playbook’: Trump’s Courthouse Rant Slammed by Fascism Scholars

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