Loretta Lynch's Promise To The LGBT Community After Orlando Goes Above & Beyond
It's par for the course for the Department of Justice to respond to a mass shooting, but Attorney General Loretta Lynch once again went above and beyond the call of duty Tuesday. She was in Orlando overseeing the DOJ's role in the case, meeting with prosecutors, connecting with survivors, and speaking with the victims' families. Lynch also brought $1 million in emergency funding to support the investigation into the attack at the Pulse nightclub 10 days ago. Yet still that was not the most significant part of her visit. Lynch spoke to the LGBT community once again, promising to stand with them.
I know that the LGBT community in particular has been shaken by this attack. It is indeed a cruel irony that a community defined almost exclusively by whom they love is so often a target of hate.
Let me say to our LGBT friends and family, particularly to anyone who might view this tragedy as an indication that their identities — their essential selves — might somehow be better left unexpressed or in the shadows: this Department of Justice — and our country — stands with you in the light.
We stand with you to say that the good in the world far outweighs the evil; that our common humanity transcends our differences; and that our most effective response to terror and hatred is compassion, unity, and love. We stand with you today as we grieve together. And long after the cameras are gone, we will continue to stand with you as we grow together, in commitment, in solidarity, and equality.
Her remarks are one of the few from government officials to focus on the LGBT community in such depth. Shortly after the attack, President Obama said "it was an act of terror and an act of hate." He pointed out that Pulse, a gay nightclub, was "a place of solidarity and empowerment, where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights."
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton also spoke to the LGBT community in the days after Orlando. She gave a long speech which included references to Stonewall and Laramie while promising to be an ally. "We have to stand together, be proud together," she said, though the focus of her remarks were on defeating ISIS.
Lynch, on the other hand, focused her remarks almost entirely on the LGBT and allied victims, as well as the first responders. She said that the DOJ is offering emergency counseling resources to first responders to "help them deal with the trauma that they too have experienced."
She also said that a Family Assistance Center has been set up to provide crisis counseling and other critical support. Federal funding will be provided to victims to cover "family travel expenses, medical and mental health expenses, and other costs related to the tragedy." That is huge.
Lynch also spoke on how the response to the attack has stood in defense of American ideals:
Those ideals include the understanding that our diversity makes us stronger – and that no matter who we are, what we look like, where we come from, or whom we love, this extraordinary nation belongs to us all.
These remarks cement Lynch as one of the top allies within the Obama administration. Just over a month ago, Lynch delivered one of the most remarkable speeches on trans rights ever. Her commitment to throwing the DOJ's weight behind the fight for true equality — and security — of LGBT Americans is unparalleled. May the next Attorney General be just as committed.