At a vigil to honour the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando, Utah’s lieutenant governor Spencer Cox made a heartfelt confession:
“I grew up in a small town. I went to a small rural high school. There were some kids in my class who were different than me, and sometimes I wasn’t kind to them. I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now that they were gay. I regret not treating them with the kindness, dignity, and respect, the love, that they deserved. For that I sincerely and humbly apologise. Over the intervening years, my heart has changed.”
The apology was part of stirring, tearful speech Cox made at the vigil this Monday, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. In the address, he mourned the loss of the 49 victims killed by the shooter and urged Americans to overcome their political divides to find common ground.
“Let me be clear, there are no simple policy answers to this tragedy,” Cox said. “Beware of those who say they have a simple solution. It doesn’t exist. I can assure you, though, this: that calling people idiots, communists, fascists, or bigots on Facebook is not going to change any hearts or minds. Today we need fewer Republicans and fewer Democrats and more Americans…So may we leave today with the resolve to be a little kinder. May we try to listen more and talk less. May we forgive someone that has wronged us. And, perhaps most importantly, try to love someone who is different from us. For my straight friends, might I suggest starting with someone who is gay.”
Cox, who’s a Mormon, later told NPR that his faith was “a driving force” in his change of heart — despite the fact that the Mormon leaders have condemned same-sex marriage, calling it a “particularly grievous” sin.
“Whether you see that as a sin or not I think is unimportant,” Cox told NPR. “I don’t like to rank sins. And I clearly have many, many, many faults and many sins myself. And so I’ve just determined that none of that matters to me personally…And part of that is the commandment — and my church teaches this as well — that we are to love everyone.”
Watch Cox’s full speech right here:
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