The horrific events over the weekend in Orlando shock the conscience. The attacks at the Pulse nightclub are made worse, if that is possible, by the reality that the victims were targeted because they were lesbian, gay or transgender.

Sadly, the pain of the massacre was only increased by the perverse attempt of those seeking public office to use the spotlight created by the tragic events to sow seeds of division. We hear calls to ban all immigrants and newcomers from particular nations, without regard to the reality that many of these individuals may be fleeing war, not seeking to spread violence. We see veiled suggestions that we should round up immigrants from Muslim nations, rekindling images of the internment camps during World War II. In short, we hear radical suggestions and heated rhetoric but little in the way of meaningful solutions to the violence targeted at the LGBT community or the threats of terrorism.

We must reject this rhetoric. Rather than see this moment as an excuse to divide, we must redouble our efforts to secure fairness and humane treatment for all persons across America and in Illinois. That has always been the work of the ACLU and it is more critical today than ever before.

The ACLU will continue to work for fair treatment of all persons within our borders, including newcomers. The ACLU will fight and challenge efforts to discriminate based on religion, or to tar all those of any religion as dangerous. And, we will continue to stand up for the rights of the LGBT community, including fighting laws that discriminate against those who are transgender.

Each of us grieves at the tragic stories emerging from Orlando. Lives are forever changed by this senseless violence – spouses and children will never come home. But grief and sadness, along with the anger and vitriol of demagogues, cannot stop us from pursuing a more perfect union.

As always, we appreciate your support and participation in this necessary work.