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Faith leaders ask Florida Governor to honour 49 Pulse shooting victims with LGBT protections

Joseph McCormick July 11, 2017

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JULY 13: Florida Governor Rick Scott as he visits the Marian Center which offers services for people with intellectual disabilities on July 13, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Governor held a bill signing ceremony at the center for Senate Bill 642, the Florida Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act as well as took the opportunity to highlight funding for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities included in the 2015-2016 state Budget. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Faith leaders in Florida on Monday called for the victims of the Pulse massacre to be honoured with an executive order by Governor Rick Scott.

Reverend Terri Steed Pierce of Orlando’s Joy Metropolitan Community Church, which welcomes LGBT worshippers praised Governor Scott for his response to the shooting last year.

“Governor Scott came to Orlando two days after the Pulse massacre to offer his support of our community,” she said.

“He came to this very place, sat in this very room … and was kind and sympathetic. He agreed to do what he could to help us heal.”

Employees from the Governor’s office met with Equality Florida weeks later and discussed a potential executive order banning discrimination against state employees based on gender identity or sexual orientation, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

Pointing to Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville’s mayoral directive protecting city employees before the massacre, Equality Florida called on a state-wide measure.

“Their response was that they needed time,” said Hannah Willard, public policy director for Equality Florida.

“They wanted to see a draft of Mayor Curry’s order. They wanted to see drafts of other executive orders that had been issued in other states, and they wanted us to draft a suggested executive order for the governor. They needed two weeks, they said. Two weeks later, they needed two months… They indicated this was something they wanted to do. It was just a matter of when.”

The governor’s press secretary, Lauren Schenone gave a statement saying: “In accordance with federal guidelines, Florida state agencies do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and state employees should not be discriminated against in any way.”

But she did not comment on what was said in the meetings with Equality Florida.

Many of the 49 victims of the Pulse shooting were LGBT and members of the Latino community.

The attack remains one of the deadliest mass shootings on US soil in recent history.

Transcripts of 911 calls made by perpetrator Omar Mateen during the shooting confirm that the motive was, in fact, his allegiance to the terrorist group known as Islamic State.

Authorities have also investigated the role of his wife Noor Salman the attack.

Salman was not initially arrested in the wake of the attack, but was detained in January this year after a police investigation cast doubt on her statements.

She stands accused of knowing about the plans for the attack in advance, but her attorneys and family insist she did not know what her husband was planning.

Salman made a federal court appearance in Orlando in April, pleading not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting her husband, as well as a charge of obstruction of justice.

The massacre last year prompted outpourings of grief in LGBT communities across the world.

In London, for example, streets in the city’s gay district Soho drew to a standstill after the attack as thousands joined hands at a vigil to pay their respects.

In December of last year Orlando responded to the massacre by setting up a scheme that allows businesses to identify themselves as safe places for LGBT customers.

More: governor, Orlando, Orlando Massacre, Pulse, Rick Scott, US

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