In paying tribute to Pulse victims in Orlando, Biden shows the content of his character. So does DeSantis | Editorial

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President Biden paid a kind and beautiful tribute to the victims of the horrific shooting carried out at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando where scores of people gathered for a night of joyful partying five years ago on June 12. When the bullets stopped, 49 people were dead, 53 were injured.

Saturday, the president’s statement struck a tone of sorrow, resolve and compassion — while issuing a strong call to action.

“Within minutes, the Pulse nightclub that had long been a place of acceptance and joy turned into a place of unspeakable pain and loss,” Biden said. “Forty-nine people were there celebrating Latin night were murdered, even more injured, and countless others scarred forever — the victims were family members, partners and friends, veterans and students, young, Black, Asian and Latino — our fellow Americans.”

Beyond tributes

Biden was vice president at the time and met with grieving families. Most impressively, the president revealed in his statement: “Over the years, I have stayed in touch with families of the victims and with the survivors who have turned their pain into purpose, and who remind us that we must do more than remember victims of gun violence and all of the survivors, family members and friends left behind; we must act.”

And he, at least, has taken the lead. Already, he has laid out policy changes to be carried out by the Justice Department; and he called on the U.S. Senate to pass two gun-control bills approved by the House in March. After years of congressional inaction — lawmakers have been insufficiently motivated by the slaughter of elementary-school children in Connecticut; African Americans killed by a white supremacist in Charlotte; concert-goers mowed down in Las Vegas, Latinos massacred in El Paso — Democrats should muster their razor-thin majority to answer Biden’s call.

Flags lowered

We also commend Gov. DeSantis for ordering this year, too, that flags be flown at half-staff on Saturday, in observance of Pulse Remembrance Day. He, too, issued a statement, rightly decrying the assault on LGBTQ and Hispanic people (he didn’t mention Blacks and Asians as Biden did) and calling the shooting a “senseless and hateful act and one of the darkest days in our state’s history.” To his credit, the governor helped secure funds for a Pulse memorial.

But his response leaves us confused, for during this month of pride, the governor’s actions have been anything but aligned with the health and well-being of LGBTQ communities throughout the state. On Day One — June 1 — he signed the misguided and bigoted legislation that prohibits transgender girls and women from playing on sports teams of girls or women. The very next day, he cut $900,000 in funding for programs that serve LGBTQ residents in Central Florida. This includes mental-health services to the survivors of victims of the Pulse shooting, no less.

The governor is sending a mixed message. Does he value LGBTQ Floridians, or not?

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