by Kristine Galloway
published June 17, 2016
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
CHEYENNE – An entire community came together Thursday night at the Depot Plaza in downtown Cheyenne.
Not everyone in the city came to remember the 49 lives lost in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday and support the LGBT community, but a few hundred did. And those few hundred included people of all ages and all races.
Multiple churches and religions sent an official representative to speak, including Presbyterians, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Episcopalians and Unitarian Universalists.
The Cheyenne Police Department sent Sergeant Adam Deball to speak, and Wyoming Rep. Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne, attended to show her support.
Although the focus of the vigil was peace and acceptance, Jeran Artery, chairman of Wyoming Equality, told the crowd they have every right to be angry.
“It’s OK to get angry at the more than 200 anti-LGBT bills that have been introduced across this country so far this year. It’s OK to be angry at religious bigotry and extremism when we are called pedophiles and second-class citizens that are not worthy of equality,” he said.
Artery encouraged attendees to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. “Together we are stronger. We won’t let terrorists win. We won’t let our voices be overcome, and we will not disappear quietly into the night as many would have us do,” he said to cheers throughout the crowd.
Sara Burlingame, the education outreach coordinator for Wyoming Equality, also spoke of the struggles the LGBT community faces.
Burlingame said she was raised in the Baha’i faith, which is a branch of Islam.
“Everything that I knew about gentleness, everything I knew about mercy and peace, came from a faith that came from Islam, and it shaped and formed who I am,” she said.
Mohammed Salih, speaking on behalf of the local Muslim community, said the shooter in Orlando, Omar Mateen, was not a true Muslim.
“The terrorist might have claimed to be a Muslim, but his criminal, inhuman action proves otherwise,” he said.
“We offer our sincere condolences to the families who lost their loved ones, we give our support to those who were injured in this cowardly attack. May God give rest and peace to those who lost their lives. May God grant patience and understanding to their families and loved ones.”
Rabbi Larry Moldo of Mount Sinai Synagogue in Cheyenne recited the Kaddish for the victims who died in Orlando.
“Jews recite Kaddish when someone dies, on the anniversary of their death and during memorial services. While the requirement for reciting Kaddish is limited to close relatives, it can be recited for anyone whether you know them or not,” he said.
Pastor Rodger McDaniel said the roots of hate cannot grow without soil supporting it.
“Our purpose in gathering here with you tonight is to say, ‘We are one, both the LGBTQ and the Muslim communities,’” he said. “We are here to turn over the tables of your enemies just as Jesus turned over the tables in the temple to help lift that shadow King David spoke of, and to make sure that whether it’s politicians or ministers or anyone else scattering the seeds of bigotry, that there is no good soil or hate to grow here,” he said.
Rep. Mary Throne said Wyoming supports Orlando because Wyomingites believe in supporting our neighbors.
Toward the end of the vigil, Carol Pascal read the names of each of the 49 dead from the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub, and the crowd repeated them back to her.
Just before the vigil closed with the crowd singing along to Marcie Kindred’s version of Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” the Rev. Audette Fulbright of the Unitarian Universalist Church addressed the crowd.
“As we extinguish our candles tonight, remember that the light that we have kindled together is never truly extinguished, and if you feel like yours is flickering, reach out to someone you know and love and trust. There is someone there for you, and you are wanted and needed,” she said.
Burlingame finished the night with, “We know there is great brokenness, we know there is great violence, but we know that when we join together in love that we heal the world. So let’s go out and heal our world.”