Politics

Tears, Hugs and Prayers at Orlando Vigil on Capitol Steps

The Congressional LGBT and Muslim staff associations brought out dozens of members

UNITED STATES - JUNE 13: Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., center, is consoled by Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, Father Patrick J. Conroy, left, as Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., looks on at conclusion of the vigil and moment of silence on U.S. Capitol Steps on Monday, June 13, 2016, in remembrance of victims of the Orlando shooting. The event was held by the LGBT Congressional Staff Association and the Congressional Muslim Staff Association. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two dozen members of Congress and hundreds of staff members gathered on the Capitol steps Monday afternoon as the Congressional LGBT and Muslim staff associations jointly hosted a moment of silence and vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting .  

As people gathered, Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell cried while greeting her colleagues. Staffers from both associations cried as well while standing in solidarity with the 49 victims killed and 53 wounded at Pulse nightclub .  

“In your name we condemn all violence against innocent people,” said House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy, who led the vigil as Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black stood by. Conroy called on all Americans to never “fear violence because of whom they are, whom they love.”  

Other members in attendance were Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and James Lankford, R-Okla.; Republican Rep. Richard Hanna of New York and Democratic Reps. Dan Kildee of Michigan, Eliot L. Engel of New York, Eleanor Holmes Norton of D.C., Jared Polis of Colorado, Tony Cardenas of California, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Mark Takano of California and Andre Carson of Indiana, among others.  

Prayer on Capitol Steps for Victims in Orlando

At 4 p.m., the Senate opened to a moment of silence for Orlando led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.  

“I’ll call him what he really is: a coward, a murderer,” McConnell said of the shooter.  

Also on the floor were Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, who left immediately following the moment silence as Florida Democrat Bill Nelson walked in.  

Nelson, who said he had been up since receiving news of Sunday's terrorist mass shooting in Orlando, lamented the lack of an appetite for a force resolution against the Islamic State.  

Nelson told reporters, "one thing we ought to do, we ought to declare war against ISIS."  

Niels Lesniewski contributed.

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