LGBT Veterans Stand with Orlando


June 15, 2016

An Open Letter LGBT Veterans Stand with Orlando
America was assaulted early Sunday morning as at least 49 members of our LGBT and allies community in Orlando, Florida were killed and 53 more injured in an eruption of violence against the gay community. “We all hurt because part of our community is in pain. The members of American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) served our country to help protect it from senseless terrorism such as this. As veterans and active duty service members we go in harm’s way serving to protect our country, then come home only to be assaulted and cut down in our most important and representative time of the year, Pride Month,” stated Army Vietnam veteran Lieutenant Colonel Steve Loomis, National President of AVER. AVER is America’s first and oldest Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender veterans and active duty service organization.

“In a society where diversity is our destiny and our greatest strength, the hateful and divisive attitudes that have become the hallmark of political and religious rhetoric in recent years must stop. There is no justification for mass murder or those who promote it,” stated AVER President Emeritus Danny Ingram, an Army veteran.

It is an attack on every American and the multi-colored fabric that is the core of who we are as a people. All lives matter, and hateful rhetoric, regardless of how it is justified or camouflaged, ultimately leads to the type of mass murder that we have witnessed in Orlando. We have all lost because of this horrible crime and AVER calls upon every American to question the prejudiced and hurtful attitudes that demonize entire groups of people and ultimately create a destructive rationale that leads to the murder of our fellow citizens.

America succeeds by valuing and respecting the inherent dignity of every human being, not by tearing down or eliminating groups who are different. We are angry veterans as we lost one of our own citizen soldiers in Orlando and angry citizens because the hurt spreads across our country. We join as one in mourning this act of evil against our community and nation. We strengthen our common resolve to build bridges of tolerance and understanding across our country united from sea to sea as our forefathers wished.

As these cowering shadow people encourage hatred and condone violence against American citizens for whatever reason, they violate our rights, our persons and our space. The hatemongering and divisive political and religious rhetoric must stop. Political and religious leaders who encourage intolerance or acts of violence must be held accountable.

It is America’s destiny to be the most diverse society in the history of the world, extending equal rights, equal respect, and equal responsibility to every citizen. To do otherwise is in no way democracy.

Steve Loomis
LTC, EN, U.S. Army (Retired)
National President
American Veterans for Equal Rights

Danny Ingram
SGT, US Army Veteran
National President Emeritus
American Veterans for Equal Rights