In one of the most poignant moments of the Democratic National Convention, thus far, the mother of a gay man killed in the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, made a tearful onstage plea for gun reform.
Christine Leinonen said she was inspired to speak at the convention Wednesday because her son, Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, had been a “big supporter” of Hillary Clinton. She was escorted onstage at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center by her son’s ex-boyfriend, Jose Arriagada, and Brandon Wolf, who survived the Pulse nightclub shooting that targeted the LGBT community and left 49 people dead.
A former Michigan state trooper, Leinonen recalled how her off-duty gun was placed in a hospital safe when she went into labor with her son, who was 32 years old at the time of his death.
“I know common sense gun policies save lives. The weapon that murdered my son fires 30 rounds in one minute,” she said. “I’m glad common sense gun policy was in place the day Christopher was born, but where was that common sense the day he died?”
Drew Leinonen had reportedly been planning to marry his boyfriend, Juan Ramon Guerrero, who was also killed in the Orlando shooting. And before proclaiming her support for Clinton, Leinonen pointed out how her son’s paternal grandparents met in a Japanese internment camp.
“So it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate,” she said.
Unfortunately for Christine Leinonen, her remarks may go unnoticed by those who need to hear them the most. Although CNN and MSNBC aired her full speech, Fox News ignored the appearance, airing “a panel discussion about inner city poverty and Donald Trump’s appeal to disaffected voters,” instead, Media Matters reported.