The passage of the Pulse Remembrance Day resolution in the Florida legislature is mostly a symbolic victory. But the author of the resolution, HR 8077, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, considers it a victory nonetheless.
“It’s more symbolic than anything. I was a little surprised that there was not any pushback because the makeup of the legislature is very conservative. It was unanimous and it was approved by the Republican leadership. I am so proud.” In the House, resolutions pass when no one objects to them.
Although the resolution was symbolic, Smith called it “a promising sign” in regard to how conservative and republican legislatures view the LGBT community. Passed on April 27, the resolution marks June 12, the one-year anniversary of the attack which killed 49 people at the LGBT Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Along with the impact on the LGBT community, the resolution highlights the fact that the attack happened on “Latin Night” and impacted that community as well.
“The attack at Pulse nightclub has been recognized as the deadliest mass shooting by a single individual, the most lethal incident of violence against the LGBTQ+ community in United States history and the largest terrorist attack in the country since 9/11,” reads a portion of the bill.
Smith, a Democrat who represents Orlando and is one of only two openly-gay Florida legislators, said he wanted to make sure the resolution directly addressed who was targeted that night. “It’s important that we documented what happened . . . but in a way that did not rewrite history. This is not just an act of terror. It’s the worst hate crime in the history of the LGBT community. It’s important to acknowledge that in a way that future generations could understand.”
Terry DeCarlo, executive director of the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, said he hopes Smith’s resolution is the start of something that will eventually become a national day of remembrance.
“It started here and let’s hope it goes on further,” said DeCarlo.
Smith invited others to take up the mantle and build on what he’s done.
“There’s an opportunity to bring this to Congress, so I would encourage people to do that. But the most important thing is to stand in solidarity with each other. People are still struggling to rebuild their lives,” said Smith.
There are also other issues that need to be addressed, said Smith. One of them is getting more LGBT individuals elected to the legislature. “It’s frustrating. The LGBT community is underrepresented in the legislature. We need more diversity.”
For his efforts in the legislature, Smith was named as one of the “winners” of the 2017 Legislative Session by FloridaPolitics.com.
The website lauded Smith and said “he regularly took to the floor to ask members smart questions about their bills, continues to fight for the survivors of the 2016 attack at the Pulse nightclub, and was key to forming the Legislative Progressive Caucus. There’s a reason he was selected as one of INFLUENCE Magazine’s “freshmen to watch,” and we expect this could be just the beginning of big things to come.”