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House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. — PHOTO: Gage Skidmore

For the record: Wisconsin leaders respond to attack in Orlando

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has ordered that flags above the Capitol be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims of the Orlando attack.

Ryan said in a statement, "It is horrifying to see so many innocent lives cut short by such cowardice. Tonight, and in the long days ahead, we will grieve with the families. We will thank the heroes. We will hope for a swift recovery for the injured.

"As we heal, we need to be clear-eyed about who did this. We are a nation at war with Islamist terrorists. Theirs is a repressive, hateful ideology that respects no borders. It is a threat to our people at home and abroad. Our security depends on our refusal to back down in the face of terror. We never will."

Other statements from political leaders in Wisconsin:

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.: “As a nation, we have all witnessed a historic tragedy in Orlando. As we offer our thoughts and prayers, we also must come to terms with the fact that they are not enough. This was not only a horrific attack on the LGBT community, it was an attack on the freedoms we all hold dear. The question now for America is are we going to come together and stand united against hate, gun violence and terrorism? I understand it may not be easy, but I know we are better than this and it is past time to act together.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson: “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and the brave men and women who risked their lives to save others. My committee will work to support the federal role in investigating this terror attack and protecting against further threats. As Americans we must unite to defeat terrorism’s threat to our nation's security.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus: "As we grapple with the horrific events that took place yesterday morning in Orlando, my thoughts are with the families of the victims and everyone affected during Pride Month. The targeting of the LGBT individuals in this heinous act of violence has reignited many fears and uncertainty in our community. As a country, we must stand together to denounce bigotry and hatred and embrace love and acceptance.

"President Barack Obama declared this 'an act of terror and an act of hate,' an action perpetrated with a military-style assault weapon. Across the country people are asking themselves what they can do to help and what can be done to prevent such a devastating event from happening again.

"As a Member of Congress I contemplated these thoughts as well, ultimately coming to the conclusion that Congress won't do a thing about any of these issues again this week. In fact, all too often actions and language here in Congress and on the campaign trail actually exacerbate would-be terrorists. And actions even on the Floor of the House of Representatives all too often reinforce the hate of some people. Unfortunately, this body is too chicken to address the epidemic of military-style assault weapons because that would upset the gun manufacturers and special interests.

"In the end all we will do is have yet another moment of silence, rather than a moment of action. That disrespects the lives of the people who were killed not just yesterday, but every day by gun violence. There may be blood in the streets, but if Congress continues to fail to act, we will have blood on our hands.”

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.: “My heart aches over the tragic events that took place last night in Orlando, Florida. As details about this horrific incident emerge — including the background of the perpetrator — make no mistake, this was indeed an act of terror. This savage act was carried out in an effort to intimidate and terrify our LGBT brothers and sisters.

“This senseless loss of life transpired in a club that was meant to be a safe space for an already vulnerable group of Americans, but we must never forget that an attack on the LGBT community is an attack on all of us. As we mourn for those whose lives have been touched by this act of barbarism, we must do everything in our collective power to put an end to the attitudes and behaviors that help cultivate a society where such hate can come to fruition. Today, Milwaukee stands with the City of Orlando and our nation’s LGBT community.”

Gov. Scott Walker: “Tonette and I extend our prayers to those killed or injured in Orlando and to their loved ones following this tragic act of violence.”

State Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit: “I'm horrified by the attack in Orlando early Sunday morning. This was a terrible tragedy, an act of terror, and a hate crime perpetrated against the LGBTQ community. That this attack came during Pride Month, which is meant to celebrate what it means to be LGBTQ, is especially heartbreaking. My heartfelt condolences go out to the victims, to their friends and family, and the entire LGBTQ community that is deeply hurting after this attack.

“Although we cannot accept that this kind of massacre is something that happens in this country, we must not scapegoat entire groups of people. Instead, we must lay the blame where it belongs: the ideology of violent extremism.

“Let us take action to promote legal and social equality, and to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of those who seek to use them to do harm. Let us choose love over hate, and hug our friends, family, and neighbors even more closely in the days and weeks ahead. Let us continue to build a community where this kind of act really is unthinkable.”

State Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison: “What happened yesterday in Orlando is a heartbreaking act of hate and terror. Today, my thoughts are with the victims, their families, the LGBT community, and the people of Orlando.

“Sadly, we cannot simply legislate away hate and bigotry, but we can put an immediate end to the discriminatory laws and political rhetoric that only serve to fuel the kind of hatred and fear that too often provoke violence. And we can pass common sense gun laws that prevent tragedies such as this one.

“It makes no sense that we continue allowing easy access to weapons that make the killing of dozens of people in a matter of minutes possible. We must take immediate action to get assault weapons out of our communities, make guns less readily available, and keep guns out of the hands of those who intend to do harm.

“We have all watched in horror as community after community has had to confront the tragedy of mass shootings. These tragedies are preventable, and it is high time the NRA and those politicians beholden to them stop standing in the way of public safety.”

State Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison: “I can’t imagine the terror and horror inside that Orlando night club early Sunday morning. I can’t imagine the fear the club-goers felt after the first shots rang out. And I can’t imagine the chill that family members and friends experienced when they saw the news alert about the shooting pop up on their phones and televisions. Their texts and calls to loved ones going unanswered.

“My heart is heavy for the victims, their families, and the LGBTQ community and their fight for equality. We mourn together with them. It is now our responsibility to learn who the victims were and carry out their legacies. These were sons and daughters – who loved and were loved. These were friends, neighbors, and co-workers – passionate about life, whose most basic freedom was taken from them. It is now incumbent upon all of us to make the world a better place to honor and remember them for who they were and what they cared about.

“The time for hashtag politics and empty wishes of ‘thoughts and prayers’ with no action is over. I will not be honoring these victims with moments of silence. I will be honoring them with my voice and my actions. We must immediately address this public health crisis of gun violence in America.”

State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee: “Yesterday, I woke up to the tragic news that a mass shooting had taken place at an LGBT night club in Orlando, Florida. We know now that 50 people, likely all LGBT Americans, were slain and 53 wounded.

“LGBT Wisconsinites and our allies were devastated, of course, but in Milwaukee we still held our annual Pride Parade in the Walker’s Point neighborhood I am honored to represent in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

“I can tell you that our hearts were heavy, but we were resolute in our desire to come together as a community, to march shoulder-to-shoulder, to cheer each other on, and to celebrate our pride as LGBT immigrants, LGBT Wisconsinites and LGBT Americans. We marched to show that even in our grief, we are proud to be out, active, contributing members to society and to our communities.

“As an openly bisexual member of my beloved LGBT community, I send the deepest of sympathies to the victims, their families and to all LGBT Floridians.

“As an out elected leader in Wisconsin, I commit to continuing to fight for LGBT equality and I join the chorus of so many other leaders, including President Obama, in insisting on common sense gun reform now before one more life is lost.”

State Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee: “Sunday saw the deadliest shooting in modern American history after a gunman opened fire and took hostages at a gay nightclub in Orlando. As of today, fifty innocent people were killed and scores still remain hospitalized.

“My heart breaks with the loss and suffering of the victims and their families.

“I am thankful for law enforcement and medical personnel in the area who stopped the killer, rescued the victims, treated the wounded, and comforted those who grieved.

“I am also grateful for everyone who answered the call and stood in long lines to donate blood for the injured.

“This atrocity took place during Pride Month, and on a weekend where – all across the country – members of the LGBT community, our supporters, and allies came together to celebrate the progress made in civil rights and equality in our nation.

“Milwaukee held its 30th annual PrideFest parade on Sunday. As I walked the parade route I spoke with many friends and strangers who shared my recollections of times past when the LGBT community was under attack, from denial of basic civil rights to the devastating losses of the AIDS crisis. Although our hearts break, we are resilient, we will persevere, and we will continue to work for a better world.”


State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison: “Like millions of Americans, I am absolutely sick over Sunday morning’s massacre at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando. For the hundreds of families suffering the unbearable loss of a loved one to those still grappling with the unknown – I am so sorry for your pain and send my deepest condolences. Despite our recent historic gains for fairness and equality, there is still ignorance and intense hatred that exists towards the LGBTQ community. As public officials our words matter. At a time when we should be united, it’s disappointing to see that there are some that refuse to acknowledge this incident for what it was – an intentional, hateful, deadly attack on the gay, lesbian and transgender community.

“In a country where it can be is easier to obtain certain high-level military assault weapons than vote, we must re-examine our priorities in the face of this inexplicable tragedy. We’ve seen 20 first graders violently gunned down, we’ve seen a television reporter shot on live television and now we’ve seen 49 Americans murdered this weekend within a matter of minutes – how can we stand here and do nothing? We can work to make our communities safer through commonsense gun safety measures or we can continue down the same path of inaction and hate-filled rhetoric that is poisoning our society.”

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We ask if the weapons were obtained legally or illegally. We ask if it was an act of terrorism or of hatred, or of both. These distinctions do not matter.

“Once again, innocent and good people who loved and were loved by family and friends, are dead - the victims of the obscene firepower available in this country sponsored by the National Rifle Association.

“We need to stand up to the NRA and the peddlers of death.

“There is a range of reasonable steps that can be taken without infringing on the provision of the Second Amendment, which ensures the establishment of a well-regulated militia: weapons registration, owner registration, background checks, waiting periods, and control on weapons sales. Limitations on firepower are reasonable, sensible actions.

“Here in Madison we feel compassion and pain for those who perished; who deserved to live their lives in happiness and love. Our hearts go out to their families and loved ones and to the people of Orlando. I have conveyed our sympathies to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer."

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning: "I speak for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and myself when I say our hearts go out to the people of Orlando, the victims and their families, the responders, and the LGBT community.

"Yesterday, we saw the absolute worst of humanity, when the hatred of one individual turned into the largest mass shooting in American history. This was an act of terror; this was an act of hate, and this was an attack on all of us.

"We must stand together in the face of such hatred, and not let acts like these drive us apart. I and millions across this country stand with our friends and family in the LGBT community. Violence like this will not deter our resolve to ensure that regardless of who an individual loves or how they identify, they are treated with respect and receive equal protection under the law."


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