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Kansas LGBT Activist Responds To Orlando Massacre

Matthew Hodapp
Mourners gather for a vigil for victims of the Orlando gay club shooting at Barney Allis Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

Gay rights activists and members of the LGBT community throughout Kansas and Missouri are in a state of shock in the wake of Sunday's massacre of at least 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida Saturday night. Stephanie Mott, State Vice-Chair of Equality Kansas, says people she’s spoken to are feeling a wide array of emotions.

"People are afraid. People are in shock. People are hurt and angry and fearful and hopeless. But I think at the same time the people I've talked to understand that we need to keep moving forward with love. There's really only one way for us to put an end to the hate, and that's by continuing to love."

[Related: LGBT Community Mourns Orlando Attack, Boosts Security At Pride Events]

Mott says that LGBT people are being harassed, assaulted and sometimes killed every day somewhere in the country, and she sees a direct connection between the proliferation of anti-LGBT measures coming from state legislatures and the violence directed at gay people.

"If we could stop all the anti-LGBT legislation from coming out of Kansas or Florida or North Carolina or wherever, we wouldn't be dealing with what we're dealing with today."

Mott adds that many vulnerable young people are also driven to suicide by anti-gay rhetoric from political and religious leaders. And she says anti-LGBT laws send a message that violence against people who are different is acceptable and even sanctioned by the state.

"When anti-trans, anti-LGBT legislation comes out of the Statehouse or is signed by the governor, it not only increases violence, it increases harassment, it increases discrimination," she says. "Anytime that you have this hate coming out in the form of legislation that says that 'this particular group of people are less than,' then you're going to end up with things like what happened [in Orlando]."

Mott suggests that something positive may eventually come from the tragedy if more federal, state and local lawmakers would sit down and get to know her and other gay and transgender people and try to find common ground.