Last night, I gave the following statement at a Candlelight Vigil for the Orlando Shooting. Today, I will take action, as I expect to introduce my Anti-Hatred Resolution to the Assembly.
Sunday morning, I woke up, as we all did, to the horrifying news that 49 men and women were murdered in Orlando by a sick individual consumed by hate. 49 beautiful people were massacred in a safe haven, a place that was supposed to be free of society’s judgment, free of fear, free of bigotry yet they were killed simply because of who they loved. In the hours and days that have followed, some have pointed blame towards millions of Americans that have done nothing but worship and honor their faith in love and in peace.
Let me be clear. This individual was not a Muslim. Islam is a faith of love. This was a radical consumed by hate. A hatred that has seeped into our society and become a troubling part of our political discourse. This hatred and bigotry being promoted by political leaders for political gain is bad, but using that hatred and bigotry for agitating people to hurt and kill others is unconscionable.
Love is not a sin. Sex is not a sin. Hate is a sin. To love one another is the most wonderful thing we do, it is what makes us human and fills our hearts with joy. To love is to be strong. Yet we live in a society that is more and more consumed by hate and by fear. Fear of the other. Fear of people that are different. But as Americans, we are stronger because of this diversity, we are stronger exactly because we are all different. New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in America and is strong because we come from different countries, we speak different languages, our skin is brown, black, and white, we have different faiths and we worship or not worship whichever way we choose.
We are here this evening together in solidarity condemning hatred. So what can we do? What must we do as leaders of faith, as activists, as leaders of government? As citizens of NJ and the United States of America?
About a month ago I had lunch with a group of American Muslims - doctors, lawyers, teachers, business people - and we talked about our children, education, taxes, jobs, and hatred. From that lunch came this action - New Jersey must take a stand against hatred and bigotry in all its forms. And so, working with various faith organizations and civil liberty organizations we have crafted a resolution against hatred and bigotry that I will introduce into the General Assembly tomorrow. I am calling on my colleagues in the Assembly, both Republicans and Democrats, to sign onto this resolution and to take a stand. Take a stand against hatred, against bigotry, against homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, against every -ism and every -phobia that is rooted in hatred.
That’s a start. But that’s not enough. We have learned in the past few days that this troubled individual purchased his weapons legally. Just like every other mass shooting, he purchased a weapon that has only one purpose - to kill as many people as possible in as short a period of time. NJ has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country and some of the lowest rates of gun violence. This is not a coincidence. We must ban the sale of all assault weapons in every state. Will doing so stop all violence? No. But it will make it more difficult for these people to kill innocent people. The rest is up to us. It is up to us to decide if we want to live in a society guided by hate or love. This evening and always I ask that you stand with me in love and against hatred. Thank you.
Assemblyman, 16th District