Dem senator: Anti-LGBT laws helped fuel Orlando shooter

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Tuesday that anti-LGBT laws across the U.S. are “motivated” by the same hate behind Orlando’s recent massacre at a gay nightclub.

“I think it’s important for folks to realize the type of hate and prejudice that motivated this individual is still fed by the discrimination we have in so many states,” Merkley said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “In Florida, you can be fired from your job if you’re gay or lesbian. You can be kicked out of a restaurant or theater. You can be kicked out of rental housing.”

Forty-nine people were killed and 53 others were injured when a gunman opened fire early Sunday morning at Pulse, a gay club. Authorities have identified the gunman as Omar Mateen, 29, who died during a battle with responding police officers.

Mateen’s rampage at the gay nightspot during Pride Month has fueled speculation his actions were motivated by anti-LGBT animosity.

“We need to end discrimination across this country [and] fully embrace our vision of constitutional opportunity for every single American,” Merkley said. “Maybe that will do something to send the message to virtually everyone that our culture, to embrace opportunity for all.”

Seddique Mir Mateen, Omar Mateen’s father, on Sunday said his son became “very angry” earlier this year upon seeing two men kiss in Miami in front of his family.

Merkley on Tuesday called the attack a “vicious hate crime,” adding it marks the latest example of a gun violence epidemic.

“My heart just goes out to the people of Orlando [and] the LGBT community there and nationwide,” he said. “These events happen with regularity. This is the worst of the worst.”

Merkley added repeated congressional gridlock over firearms regulation should not stop lawmakers from tackling the controversial issue.

“The votes don’t appear to be there,” he said of stricter gun control. “Well, I must say I’ve been here long enough not to be optimistic. Absolutely it should be debated. It should be discussed.”

Tags Discrimination Florida Guns Jeff Merkley LGBT Mass shootings Orlando
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