‘They deserve to know that they belong’; Hatch marks Pride Month with call for inclusion, understanding

Composite image. Background photo by Ludovic Bertron via Wikimedia Commons. Hatch photo by Rick Bowmer/Associated Press, St. George News

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — Sen. Orrin Hatch, the senior Republican in the U.S. Senate, spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday morning to commemorate LGBT Pride Month and to call for greater inclusion and understanding in our communities.

No one should ever feel less because of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” Hatch said. “LGBT youth deserve our unwavering love and support. They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society, but that it is far better off because of them. …

“They deserve to know that they belong, and that our society is stronger because of them.”

Hatch also discussed Utah’s suicide epidemic and its prevalence among teens in the LGBT community, calling it a “serious problem that requires national attention.”


Read more: Suicides rates rise across US; Utah’s increase among the highest


“The suicide epidemic has touched all sectors of our society, but the problem is particularly acute among LGBT youth, who experience bullying and discrimination at every turn,” Hatch said. “In the most devastating cases, these teenagers even face estrangement from their own families. That’s why today, in honor of Pride Month, I wish to devote a significant portion of my remarks to them—my young friends in the LGBT community.”

Hatch added the following:

These young people need us—and we desperately need them. We need their light to illuminate the richness and diversity of God’s creations. We need the grace, beauty, and brilliance they bring to the world.

Hatch also spoke of his efforts to curb suicides by developing a national suicide hotline number, a bipartisan proposal he introduced in 2017 with Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly that makes it easier for Americans of all ages to get the help and treatment they need when they are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

The bill requires the FCC to recommend an easy-to-remember, three-digit number for the national suicide prevention hotline.

“I believe that by making the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline system more user-friendly and accessible, we can save thousands of lives by helping people find the help they need when they need it most,” Hatch said.

The Senate passed the bill in November. On Wednesday, the bill passed unanimously from the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but Hatch stressed the urgent need to keep the process moving.

“Every minute we wait, we leave helpless hundreds of Americans who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. There are literally lives on the line here—and leaving them on hold is not an option.”

Hatch’s full speech, as prepared for delivery, is below:

Mr. President, I rise today to address a public health crisis that has left in its wake a trail of tragedy and shattered life. The suicide epidemic has touched all sectors of our society, but the problem is particularly acute among LGBT youth, who experience bullying and discrimination at every turn. In the most devastating cases, these teenagers even face estrangement from their own families. That’s why today, in honor of Pride Month, I wish to devote a significant portion of my remarks to them—my young friends in the LGBT community.

Mr. President, the prevalence of suicide, especially among LGBT teens, is a serious problem that requires national attention. No one should ever feel less because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

LGBT youth deserve our unwavering love and support. They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society, but that it is far better off because of them.

These young people need us—and we desperately need them. We need their light to illuminate the richness and diversity of God’s creations. We need the grace, beauty, and brilliance they bring to the world.

That’s why, as we commemorate Pride Month, my message today is one of love for my LGBT brothers and sisters. It is also a call for action to Americans of all political stripes.

Regardless of where you stand on the cultural issues of the day—whether you’re a religious conservative, a secular liberal, or somewhere in between—we all have a special duty to each another. That duty is to treat one another with dignity and respect. It is not simply to tolerate but to love.

The first tenet of my faith is to love one another. The same man who taught this principle also lived it by his example. In an era characterized by rigid social divisions, he broke down barriers propped up by centuries of tradition and cultural belief. In his teachings, he made no distinction between man or woman, Jew or Gentile, sinner or saint, but invited all to come to him.

He saw beyond the arbitrary differences of group identity to the inherent worth of the individual. He taught that we are all equal because we are all children of the same God and partakers of the same human condition.

This man loved radically, and he challenged all of us to do the same.

Mr. President, if there were ever a time to show our LGBT friends just how much we love them, it is now. In a world where millions suffer in silence, we owe it to each other to love loudly.

That’s why I am a strong supporter of Utah’s Love Loud Festival, among many other efforts to combat suicide and improve mental health in the LGBT community. These young men and women deserve to feel loved, cared for, and accepted for who they are.

They deserve to know that they belong, and that our society is stronger because of them.

Mr. President, ensuring that our LGBT friends feel loved and accepted is not a political issue; we all have a stake in this. We all have family or loved ones who have felt marginalized in one way or another because of gender identity or sexual orientation—and we need to be there for them.

On a much broader scale, we need to be there for anyone struggling with feelings of isolation, especially those experiencing suicidal thoughts. By no means is suicide a problem exclusive to the LGBT community. In one way or another, this public health crisis has affected all Americans—regardless of color, class, or creed.

Over the last two decades, the suicide epidemic has taken tens of thousands of lives, with suicide rates rising by as much as 30 percent across the country. The severity of this public health crisis was thrown into sharp relief last week with the tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

In my home state of Utah, the statistics are particularly alarming. Every 14 hours, a Utahn dies by suicide, resulting in an average of 630 deaths each year. The problem is so acute that Utah now has the 5th highest suicide rate in the nation.

In addressing this topic today, my heart is both heavy and hopeful—heavy because suicide has already taken so many lives; hopeful because I believe we are on the cusp of a major legislative breakthrough that could turn the tide in the campaign against this epidemic.

As some of you may recall, I joined Senator Joe Donnelly last year in introducing the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act—a bipartisan proposal that makes it easier for Americans of all ages to get the help and treatment they need when they are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Our bill requires the FCC to recommend an easy-to-remember, three-digit number for the national suicide prevention hotline.  I believe that by making the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline system more user-friendly and accessible, we can save thousands of lives by helping people find the help they need when they need it most.

The Senate passed our bill with overwhelming bipartisan support in November. Now it’s time for the House to do its part. While I was pleased to learn that our legislation is slowly making its way through the House committee process, I am calling today for more urgent action. Every minute we wait, we leave helpless hundreds of Americans who are struggling with suicidal thoughts. There are literally lives on the line here—and leaving them on hold is not an option.

That’s why I call on my colleagues in the House to pass our suicide hotline bill without further delay. By doing so, we can prevent countless tragedies and help thousands of men and women get the help they so desperately need.

Now Mr. President, before I conclude, I wish to express my heartfelt belief that we can win the battle against suicide. But I would also remind my colleagues that no amount of legislation can fix this problem. No public policy is panacea for an issue as deep and intractable as the suicide epidemic.

Beyond legislation, however, there are steps we can take to create a society that is kinder, more civil and understanding—a society, in other words, where suicide is less of a problem.

It doesn’t take a social scientist to tell you that the coarsening of our culture has negatively affected our communities. As the political discourse breaks down, so, too, do the social ties that bind us together.

The gradual dissolution of civil society has led to unprecedented levels of loneliness, depression, and despair. In this sense, suicide is merely a symptom of a much larger problem.

But even though there’s hopelessness, there is still reason to hope. I firmly believe that by restoring civility to its proper place in our society, we can fight the despair that has seized hold of so many.

Civility starts with the words we use. Whether in person or online, we can be softer in our language, kinder in our actions, and stronger in our love. We can combat coarseness with compassion, choosing empathy instead of anger.

On an individual level, reclaiming civility entails a fundamental shift in how we view our political opponents. No longer should we see each other as adversaries in a zero-sum game but as allies in preserving the American experiment for future generations.

Mr. President, restoring civility and respect to the public square cannot be achieved through legislation. Ultimately, this is a change that must take place in the heart of every American. But here in the Senate, we can lead by example, which is why I urge all of my colleagues to join me today in recommitting to civility.

I yield the floor.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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19 Comments

  • comments June 13, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Does the corrupt ol’ SOB really care? If a crocodile could talk, and it promised it wouldn’t eat you, would you believe it?

    • mesaman June 16, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      I believe in standing with the LBGTQ and U (undecided, still pondering) population. I just don’t stand really close.

  • ladybugavenger June 13, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    Can we just have a month for straight people. I think it would be fair.
    Straight pride month. We could have parades too lol

    • No Filter June 14, 2018 at 8:28 am

      Never has a person lost their job for being white or straight in North America, or been denied an apartment for being white and straight, or been leered at or attacked by strangers for simply holding hands with their significant others. There is a level of social and systemic privilege not afforded to many members of the LGBTQ community in North America, and certainly in many countries around the world. People who are straight are never stripped of their recognition in society. Straight people have never had to fight for the right to marry who they love. Straight people do not have to worry about being themselves in public for fear of being harassed or denied service. Straight people do not deal with the constant pressure and stress of coming out to new people and worrying about how they will react. Straight people have not known the same kind of oppression and shame that has rested upon the backs of LGBTQ+ people for far too long.
      Pride month and pride parades and festivals are about providing acceptance and safety for LGBTQ+ people who need it. It is not about excluding straight people or saying that it is bad to be straight, it is about lifting others up to the level of pride that straight people are never stripped of in the first place.

      • John June 14, 2018 at 11:34 am

        Nobody lost their job for being gay or transgender either.. only when they start sexually harassing their co-workers do they get disciplined. Keep that crap in the bedroom like normal people do and nobody will have a problem, PUTZ

        • No Filter June 14, 2018 at 1:17 pm

          So you don’t hold the hand or kiss your spouse/girlfriend in public? And what makes you the expert on knowing why everyone lost their job? That’s what I thought.

          • John June 14, 2018 at 2:47 pm

            PUTZ..I don’t flaunt my sexual preferences for the world to see like you flaunt your ignorance. Let’s have a straight people parade to celebrate normal life.. cloggy, get a life..

      • ladybugavenger June 14, 2018 at 5:29 pm

        Any white person that isn’t rich, isn’t famous and cant buy someone has been discriminated against at some point in their life for some reason that is not blatantly because they are white. Just like black people who cry discrimination always say its because they are black. White people are discriminated against too. Maybe they arent teachers pet, or the boss’s favorite. Maybe the dont kiss ass at work- these are white people’s problems and they cant cry race.

        Maybe black people are facing the same kind of unfairness and it’s really not because they are black

        Of course, what i speak of does not include the KKK or hate groups

      • mesaman June 14, 2018 at 7:23 pm

        Of course you have no way of offering proof of your grandiose lead-in comment.

  • jaybird June 13, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    I used to feel a transgender running for office was off beat, but in this state where the LDS deviation is a democrat, I say you go girl. Diversify.

    • John June 13, 2018 at 10:54 pm

      you should stop feeling transgenders…. that’s gross!

      • jaybird June 14, 2018 at 8:01 am

        Who listens to this methhead nut. Hes makes nothing but personal obnoxious stupid comments even a preteen wouldnt say. Anyone out there agree?

        • RadRabbit June 14, 2018 at 9:06 am

          I agree you shouldn’t be feeling transgenders.

        • John June 14, 2018 at 11:08 am

          eat-poop-eat-poop lay an egg….hahahahahaha! and keep your damn birdy feet off of transgenders

        • No Filter June 14, 2018 at 1:27 pm

          We have some real winners in this town. I didn’t know they let the Psych ward have internet access?

          • John June 14, 2018 at 4:05 pm

            right? what are you doing on?

          • John June 14, 2018 at 7:04 pm

            you must be the one jailbird was feeling..hahahahaha!

  • utahdiablo June 13, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    How about the three digit phone code number being “812”….enoghh with all the parades of whatever you are, black, brown, red, yellow, white or rainbow….just be Americans and get the hell over it and get on earning a living for your family and blend together

    • RadRabbit June 14, 2018 at 9:10 am

      So true we all need to just be American as a teacher told me years ago were a melting pot but when you start pulling out all those bits that go into it your left with something not as good. Be American and be proud to live in the greatest country ever to exist.

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