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Watch Colorado Sen. Honor Club Q Victims in Marriage Equality Speech

Michael Bennet
Courtesy Michael Bennet

Sen. Michael Bennet invoked the names of the victims and heroes of the tragedy during a floor speech before the Senate voted on the Respect for Marriage Act Tuesday.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado honored the victims and the heroes of the Club Q shooting in a speech on the Senate floor before the vote on the Respect for Marriage Act Tuesday.

Bennet, a Democrat who was reelected this year, offered information about the five people killed the night of November 19 -- Derrick Rump, Daniel Davis Aston, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, and Raymond Green Vance -- and showed their pictures. They simply wanted to have a night out at a safe and accepting space when the attack happened, he said.

"It fills me with rage that it happened; it fills me with sadness," Bennet said. "It should fill the entire Senate with rage and sadness."

If not for the courage of Richard Fierro and Thomas James, who flew into action to subdue the shooter, that list of names would be longer, the senator added. But "we shouldn't need to count on a stranger's bravery" in such cases, he said, noting incidents of gun violence across Colorado, including the supermarket shooting in Boulder last year. "Colorado is hurting," he said. "We are tired."

"So as we stand here on the verge of taking a historic step toward equality, a vitality important step toward equality, we are reminded once again of how much work is left to do to give our children the safe and accepting future that they deserve, that they want to have, that we're obligated to give them," he continued. "We haven't finished that work in the United States Senate."

He noted the Supreme Court decision this year overturning Roe v. Wade, in which the court also took aim at privacy rights in general, including the right to marry the person one loves. "Free people do not remain free by denying freedom to others," he said. "And today the United States Senate stands on the precipice of advancing freedom, of advancing equality, of moving us closer to our highest ideals."

The Senate ended up passing the Respect for Marriage Act by a vote of 61-36. Because the Senate amended the bill after its passage by the House of Representatives, it must go back to the House for approval of the new version before going to President Joe Biden for his signature. It will write marriage equality into federal law and protect it from Supreme Court action.

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