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NW Leaders Call For Support For LGBTQ Communities In Wake Of Orlando Shooting

<p>A police negotiator arrives to the emergency entrance of the Orlando Regional Medical Center hospital after a shooting involving multiple fatalities at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016.</p>

Phelan M. Ebenhack

A police negotiator arrives to the emergency entrance of the Orlando Regional Medical Center hospital after a shooting involving multiple fatalities at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Americans awoke to the tragic news that as many as 50 people were killed and more than 50 others were hospitalized following a shooting at a popular Orlando gay nightclub early Sunday morning. Officials are calling it the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.

As officials in Florida continue to make sense of what happened, law enforcement in Washington, D.C. called for increased security during Sunday's festivities at the city's annual pride festival and parade. In the Northwest, several LGBTQ communities recently held or will hold events, and leaders have come out to issue support to those affected by Sunday's tragic news.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, the state's first bisexual governor, issued a statement Sunday morning just days after attending a graduation ceremony at Umpqua Community College where 10 people were killed in a mass shooting in October.

"Tragically, what we are waking up to in the United States today is that the growing number of mass shootings in the U.S. increases the number of Americans with a personal connection to a Roseburg, a Charleston, a Columbine, and now, an Orlando," her statement read. "I call upon us as a state to move beyond the political debate about gun control and instead bring responsible gun owners and community advocates together to find solutions. We must take action to better protect community safety."

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden also joined the renewed call for political leaders to work together to improve gun safety laws in the wake of another mass shooting on U.S. soil.

"These mass shootings (are) now taking place like deadly clockwork," he said. "I want to get the details about what happened and then work with other members of the Senate, both political parties, to take all responsible steps to improve the safety of our communities."

Elsewhere, leaders offered statements of support to the LGBTW communities across the nation and in the Northwest.

In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee spent part of Saturday in Spokane for the city's annual LGBTQ celebrations.

"Yesterday it was such an honor to join Spokane's inspiring celebration where they, as many communities across the country this weekend, were celebrating the progress we've made for our LGBTQ friends and family. It was an event marked by pride, love and joy," his statement Sunday read.

"This morning we wake up to see this horrific tragedy in Orlando. We are all waiting to learn more about the motivations of this man but there is no doubt that today is one of unimaginable sorrow for the LGBTQ community, the people of Florida, for our nation and for people everywhere who are sickened and shocked by such an act of hatred.

In a statement Sunday, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales called on the local community to stand together in support of the LGBTQ community.

"I'm calling on all Portlanders to hold our LGBTQ community close, and come out in a show of force against terrorizing people because of who they love."

Portland's annual Pride Parade and Festival is set for next weekend at Waterfront Park. The Portland Police Bureau Sunday announced it will increase security at next week's festival and will increase patrols near bars and clubs popular with Portland's LGBTQ community members.

Hales called Sunday's events shocking and unacceptable.

"My heart and the hearts of all Portlanders, goes out to everyone affected by the tragedy in Orlando," his statement read.

Oregon Republican gubernatorial candidate Bud Pierce also issued a statement of support Sunday, calling the events a clear "act of hatred" and calling on "swift, fair, and forceful justice for those responsible for this act of pure evil."

More officials shared their reactions on social media:

Copyright 2016 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Bryan M. Vance