Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox apologized to the LGBT community at a vigil honoring the victims of the Orlando terrorist attack, saying he hasn’t always been kind to gay people or supportive of their rights.
“I begin with an admission and an apology,” the Republican told thousands of mourners gathered Monday night at the Salt Lake City and County Building, according to a transcript posted Tuesday by KSL.com. “First, I recognize fully that I am a balding, youngish, middle-aged, straight, white, male, Republican politician … with all of the expectations and privileges that come with those labels. I am probably not who you expected to hear from today.”
Mr. Cox said he grew up in a small, rural town and sometimes picked on children who were different than him.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now that they were gay. I will forever regret not treating them with the kindness, dignity and respect — the love — that they deserved. For that, I sincerely and humbly apologize,” he said.
“Over the intervening years, my heart has changed. It has changed because of you. It has changed because I have gotten to know many of you. You have been patient with me,” he continued. “You have treated me with the kindness, dignity, and respect — the love — that I very often did NOT deserve. And it has made me love you.”
Mr. Cox said each of the 49 people brutally gunned down Sunday by an Islamic terrorist at an Orlando gay nightclub had their own story and their own aspirations.
“These are not just statistics. These were individuals,” he said. “These are human beings. They each have a story. They each had dreams, goals, talents, friends, family. They are you and they are me. And one night they went out to relax, to laugh, to connect, to forget, to remember. And in a few minutes of chaos and terror, they were gone.
“Usually when tragedy occurs, we see our nation come together. I was saddened, yesterday to see far too many retreating to their over-worn policy corners and demagoguery,” he continued. “Let me be clear, there are no simple policy answers to this tragedy. Beware of anyone who tells you that they have the easy solution. It doesn’t exist. And I can assure you this — that calling people idiots, communists, fascists or bigots on Facebook is not going to change any hearts or minds. Today we need fewer Republicans and fewer Democrats. Today we need more Americans.”
Mr. Cox gave examples of love by quoting teachings by Jesus Christ and the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
“What our country needs more than ever is less politics and more kindness. If nothing else, as we can see here tonight, this tragedy has the potential to bring us closer than ever before,” he said. “And so may we leave today, with a resolve to be a little kinder. May we try to listen more and talk less. May we forgive someone that has wronged us. And perhaps, most importantly, try to love someone that is different than us. For my straight friends, might I suggest starting with someone who is gay.”