A mother who lost her son in the Orlando Pulse massacre has spoken out ahead of the Presidential election.
Christopher Leinonen died in the horrific attack in June, when a gunman opened fire in the Pulse gay club, killing 49 people and injuring 53.
In a ad for the Human Rights Campaign, Christopher’s mother Christine Leinonen opened up about the tragedy.
She wrote: “My son Christopher Leinonen was shot and killed at the Pulse nightclub along with his boyfriend Juan and 47 other people.
“This is definitely a mother’s worst nightmare, and something you would never have even imagined. Christopher and Juan’s love was like Romeo and Juliet – unfortunately they died together.
“He had the kind of personality that brought people together — all people. And that’s why he supported Hillary Clinton. He was impressed with her as a leader. She wants to bring everybody to the table. We have to continue moving forward as a society, if you know someone who’s gay, and you truly really love them, I don’t know how you could justify a vote for Donald Trump.”
“Think about Christopher. He lost his right to vote. You still have the right to vote. Vote for the future you would want Christopher to have. He’ll be happy you gave him his vote for Hillary Clinton. I would be happy that you gave Christopher a voice.”
The Presidential hopefuls reacted in markedly different ways in response to the tragedy earlier this year.
Hillary Clinton paid private visits away from cameras to survivors and victims’ families, before placing flowers at the site of the tragedy, and reaffirming her pledges on LGBT rights.
Donald Trump claimed that if his opponent is elected, gay people will face mass killings. Mr Trump also used the opportunity to declare himself a “real friend” of the “L-G-B-T-Q” community – struggling to read the acronym off a teleprompter – weejs before his campaign’s shift towards a more conservative anti-LGBT stance.
In a bid to attract support from evangelicals, Trump claimed he would “consider” appointing ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices to repeal equal marriage, come out in favour of North Carolina’s anti-trans law, and confirmed he would sign a Republican-backed bill to directly permit religious homophobic discrimination. His running mate Mike Pence has also confirmed their administration would dismantle Barack Obama’s protections for LGBT people.
HRC President Chad Griffin said: “This heartbreaking plea from Christopher’s mother is a sobering reminder of the responsibility we have to the 49 LGBTQ people and allies who lost their lives in Orlando that tragic night at the Pulse nightclub.
“We have a responsibility to not only find commonsense solutions to gun violence, but to ensure we continue moving forward as a nation towards full equality for LGBTQ people.
“While Donald Trump threatens to drag us backwards, time and again Hillary Clinton has demonstrated through her words and actions that she has the vision and leadership to unite us and move this country forward. Let’s make sure the voices of Christopher, Juan, and the countless others who have lost their lives to hatred are heard on November 8.”
In a separate ad released last week, Clinton made a direct appeal to the LGBT community. Unlike Mr Trump, who fails to list a single pro-LGBT policy, her campaign has a broad and detailed LGBT manifesto.
She says: “We need to build an America where no one has to worry they can be married on Saturday and be fired on Monday, where kids aren’t bullied just for being who they are, where every American has the chance to live up to his or her God given potential, no matter who they are, or who they love.”