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The Pulse of a Safer America

Saturday marked the fifth anniversary of the deadliest attack in the U.S. against the LGBTQ+ community.

On June 12, 2016, at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL, people were waiting for last call when a gunman entered the building with a semi-automatic rifle and semi-automatic pistol and started shooting, killing 49 and injuring over 50 others. The fatal shootings were a dark reminder that despite aggressive advocacy and a growing trend toward acceptance, people still seek to harm others based almost entirely on their lifestyle.

Communities came together following the tragedy. People donated money and blood; vigils were held nationwide. There was quite a display of unity, similar to those that followed multiple other mass shootings in the self-proclaimed land of the free.

As part of this Pulse Remembrance Day, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, asked people to observe a moment of silence at 9 a.m. on June 12 and directed state flags to be lowered to half-staff. He put on quite a performance for reporters. Sadly, that’s all this was.

DeSantis also has been pushing to expand Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which would allow gun owners to shoot looters and rioters, otherwise known as ‘protestors’ in ‘self-defense.’

The clear message DeSantis is sending to minorities and the LGBTQ+ communities is that their lives do not matter in the state of Florida. It is hard to argue with those who have outed DeSantis as one of the most racist, homophobic, and transphobic governors in the United States. He obviously does not recognize and protect the dignity and safety of all citizens.

What gubernatorial duty is more important than protecting the safety of your citizens? Think about this for a moment.

Gov. Ron DeSantis hosted fundraisers to vaccinate the wealthy while ignoring the needs of the poorest Florida neighborhoods.

While DeSantis was lambasting the cruise industry for demanding passengers be vaccinated before they board ships, President Joe Biden was arranging to provide vaccines to impoverished countries and encouraging all of us to get the shot and wear a mask until we do. Under Biden’s presidency, the government spent billions of dollars on Covid-19 vaccines to stop the spread and end the deadly pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved by these efforts.

While DeSantis was defending ‘stand your ground’ and banning local gun regulation, President Biden was calling on Congress to close gun sale loopholes and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“It is long past time we close the loopholes that allow gun buyers to bypass background checks in this country, and the Senate should start by passing the three House-passed bills which would do exactly that,” he said. “It is long past time we ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, establish extreme risk protection orders, also known as ‘red flag’ laws, and eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.”

Biden also urged the United States Senate to pass the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We must also acknowledge gun violence’s particular impact on LGBTQ+ communities across our nation. We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of color. We must create a world in which our LGBTQ+ young people are loved, accepted, and feel safe living their truth. And the Senate must swiftly pass the Equality Act, legislation that will ensure LGBTQ+ Americans finally have equal protection under law,” Biden said.

Suppose a choice comes down to DeSantis’s America or President Biden’s. Don’t we owe it to ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren to do everything possible to create a safer America?

Mark M. Bello, a trial lawyer, is the author of “Betrayal in Black” and other ‘ripped from the headlines’ Zachary Blake Social Justice Legal Thrillers available on and other online booksellers. For more information, please visit

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