Remembering Orlando

the_just_wanted_to_danceThis morning while browsing my Facebook feed I happened to stumble across a post about Sia’s newest video “The Greatest” being released as a tribute to the victims of the Orlando Massacre this past June. After watching the video I was moved to share my thoughts with y’all. Yes this was a tragedy that will forever scare our country and the community I call my family. The LGBT Community has been my adopted family since my coming out, and when I woke-up that Sunday morning to hear about the shooting, my world was turned completely upside down. That was supposed to be a morning of celebration, of triumph, since we as a community had overcome may adversities in the past few years, and were a more unified and stronger community. That was the morning of the LA LGBT Pride Parade, and our celebration was put on hold so to speak to mourn the losses of those precious souls who were taken from us just a few hours before. I along with thousands of others had to make a decision, to stay home in fear that we too could be attacked or continue with the celebration, in honor of all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice so we could celebrate pride. As the history books will read, we as a community came together and stood strong, unified, saying we will not back down out of fear, or give in to terrorist threats. We fought long and hard for the rights we have and will celebrate our PRIDE in memory of those we have lost.

I will never forget that day, especially when I could have been a victim that morning of 12 June 2016, as the LA Pride Parade was threatened by a disturbed man in Santa Monica. Thanks to the efforts of the local authorities the terrorist was arrested and the attack prevented. Despite recommendations from the Sheriff’s Dept and local officials, we didn’t cancel the parade, we stepped up our guard and continued as planned. Many of us scared, many of us hurt, and many of us mad. I can say I was truly mad that this type of tragedy can still happen in today’s society, a society where we claim to be tolerant of one another. A society where two men can live their life in peace and not fear another threatening to harm or kill them for living the life the choose.

Recently, the people of Southern Florida were under threat once again by another disturbed man who was to face trial this afternoon however was postponed due to health problems. This man had been making threats on Social Media that he was going to carry out an attack on LGBT men & women over the Labor Day Weekend. A week after the posts the FBI was able to locate and arrest the man before he could carry out any of his threats and Facebook was able to remove the posts and close the man’s accounts.

Over the past few months since the tragedy in Orlando there had been other similar attacks on various groups in Florida, Mexico and other locations killing at least 125 Americans and injuring 269 by gun-violence. Nearly 300 victims of gun-violence in America, I can’t believe this. In a country where we are supposed to be safe of violence such as this, however we have the highest rates of gun-violence than any other country in the world. Gun Violence Archive (GVA) reports that in 2016, to-date, there has been 38,254 incidents of gun-violence, 9,820 deaths, 451 Child related incidents (0-11), 2,117 teenager related incidents (12-17), and 263 mass shootings. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children or relatives to live in a society that will allow this to happen, and not do anything to protect us, to protect our children. I urge who ever reads this to reflect of these numbers, to remember the tragedies of this past year, and previous years and hold our politicians accountable. This is an election year after all, and many of our leaders are bidding for election and re-election. Demand that we as a society prevent our children from growing up in a world where they can be killed for loving someone, to be killed for enjoying a night our with friends, to be killed walking down the street. Write letters, make phone calls, don’t let the conversation stop, and always remember those who we have lost.

“Spread Love, Not Hate”

#ForThe49
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda 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 L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
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
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. 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
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old
Christopher “Drew” Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
KJ 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
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Lestat Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald “Jerry” Arthur Wright, 31 years old

Below are the videos of tribute to those precious 49 that i found online, there are many more, but i share these with you here to help you remember…

Sia – The Greatest

“Hands” – A Song for Orlando

Stop the Hate: 49 Celebrities Honor 49 Victims of Orlando Tragedy in Ryan Murphy-Produced Tribute

Christina Aguilera – Change (Lyric Video)

Jennifer Lopez, Lin-Manuel Miranda – Love Make the World Go Round (Lyric Video)

“Forty-Nine Times” – Brandon Parsons

“PULSE” by Eli Lieb and Brandon Skeie

Rick Haze – One Pulse ft. Julian Velez

“Broadway for Orlando”: The Exclusive Music Video

Melissa Etheridge – Pulse

Adam Lambert – Outlaws of Love

Janet Jackson – Shoulda Known Better

Elton John’s Tribute to Orlando

Lady Gaga honors Orlando victims at Los Angeles vigil | LA LGBT Center

I am honored to be in the audience for this appearance by Lady Gaga.

 

#LoveWins

Today will definitely be a day I will remember. I witnessed the decision of the US Supreme Court that Marriage Equality is now legal in all 50 States. Since moving to California in 2007 I have seen much change that impact my community. I first witnessed Marriage Equality in CA, only to have it taken away by the electorate a few months later. Then came the Repeal of DADT, then Marriage Equality again in CA along with the finding of DOMA as unconstitutional. I even witnessed my home State of Texas, fight a legal battle to limit my rights if i ever chose to move back home, all because I am an openly gay man. I put my live on the line by going to war for this country to be kicked out of the Military for loving a man, and then to be told I am a second-class citizen for the same reason. However, today I am overwhelmed with joy that my rights and freedoms are restored. That someday, hopefully soon, I can share in the happiness of marrying the man I love, just like every other citizen. That in the eyes of the Federal Government and each of the 50 States, I am to never be seen as a second-class citizen.

The fight in not over! Until my fellow LGBT Brothers and Sisters are afforded full and equal status, and treatment by the VA, DOD and other government agencies & communities, the work for Equality must go on. Today is a day of celebration on this victory. AVER and myself will keep watch to make sure that full equality comes and is never taken away.

Earlier today i wrote the official Statement for AVER-GLA congratulating my fellow Brothers and Sisters on our Marriage Equality Victory. The full text can be found here.


marriage-equality-constitutionThis morning marked a monumentous milestone in the history of LGBT Equality. The US Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on Marriage Equality yet again in the OBERGEFELL v HODGES (No. 14-556)  stating that it is unconstitutional to ban marriage to same-sex couples and cited the Fourteenth Amendment that no State shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This 5-4 decision in affect enforces the 2014 U.S v Windsor (No. 12–307) which declared that the Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. Around the Country, civil liberty groups are celebrating years of fighting to be considered as everyday citizens and not a sub-set of the population. Before today, 37 States had Full Marriage Equality,  leaving 13 with it either banned or had some form of partial recognition. Today’s decision affirmed two important issues, 1. “The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex”  and 2. “to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.”  Meaning just that, anyone who wishes to marry the person they love can do so in any of the 50 States, and the marriage must be recognized by another state if the couple happens to move around the country. This freedom and right has been afford to opposite-sex couples going back to the start of our Great Country.

Rally GraphicAVER-GLA is proud to be on the forefront of history and witness Marriage Equality not only in our home State of California, but the entire United States of America. Please join us this evening as we gather as a community in West Hollywood, for the Marriage Equality: Decision Day Rally at West Hollywood Park, 647 N San Vicente Blvd, West Hollywood, California 90069 from 6p-10p. Similar Celebrations will be held around Southern California, in Pasadena SCOTUS Decision Day Rally at the Metro Gold Line Lake Station at 340 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, California 91101 from 6p-? and in Long Beach Day of Decision Long Beach at the Long Beach Civic Center from 5:30p-7:30p. Other Locations around the Country can be found by visiting www.uniteformarriage.org.

As you can see the earth did not swallow the County whole, the skies did not rain hell fire, the world did not end, the sanctity of marriage was not ruined, the lives of children were not threatened, none of the things that the opposition cited occurred. What did happen is couples who truly loved each other were told that their union is not recognized by the Federal Government as well as each and every state in the US. Very shortly we will see benefits and legal rights that were denied to same-sex couples by various States and Government Agencies be afford to each and every citizen of the United States of America.

Follow the discussion on-line by using these trending hashtags:

#LoveWins | #LoveIsLove | #MarriageEquality

#Equality4All | #EqualityWins | #EqualIsEqual

love_wins

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