Dear Congressman Kilili,
I read with pride the short note in your newsletter—it was sent via email—dated June 17, 2016, regarding your efforts to join with your colleagues to ensure that responsible and meaningful gun control legislation is passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. Your bipartisan approach is admirable and desperately needed, and I continue to believe that you are a representative of all the people of our great Commonwealth.
But I was dismayed that your note did not include any mention of the fact that those gunned down in Orlando were LGBTQ Americans and their allies and that the shooting took place at a gay nightclub. Moreover, that glaring omission was all the more hurtful in considering that the month of June is traditionally celebrated as LGBTQ Pride Month and that President Obama has been a champion for LGBTQ people for as long as he has been our President.
I ask that you amend your statement to recognize the horror inflicted upon the LGBTQ community. The CNMI LGBTQ community is hurting for our sisters and brothers in Orlando and in other parts of the United States who experience discrimination and violence because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Erasing our identities in statements like the one you sent, though unintentional, serves as a stark reminder that we in the LGBTQ community, despite gains made in the areas of marriage equality and “don’t ask, don’t tell,” remain on the margins, remain easily forgotten, and remain prone to acts of violence because we dare to live the truth of who we are.
I plead with you not to forget that you are our representative, too, and that we have entrusted you with an amazing responsibility to represent our interests and to fight for LGBTQ rights.
I am heartened because you state unequivocally that, “Congress has a moral responsibility to do more than lower the flags and hold moments of silence for the victims of gun violence. We must also take action to prevent the next tragedy and keep guns out of the wrong hands.” I ask you to consider that you and your colleagues also have a moral obligation “to do more than lower the flags and hold moments of silence for the victims of [anti-LGBTQ] violence. [You] must also take action to prevent the next tragedy.”
Jonathan Pangelinan Del Rosario Cabrera