Orlando, June 17: US President Barack Obama on Thursday told relatives of those killed or wounded in last Sunday's shooting in Orlando that their stories have "inspired" the nation, and said people must "end discrimination and violence" against the LGBT community that was targeted by the mass murderer.
"These families could be our families. In fact, they are our family - they are part of the American family. Today... I told them, on behalf of the American people, that our hearts are broken too," Efe news quoted Obama as saying after meeting with the victims' families and survivors of the shooting.
Obama's meetings in Orlando lasted two hours. First he spoke with police, security agents and emergency management teams that responded to the mass shooting, then met with families of the 49 killed in the massacre that also left 53 wounded, as well as some who escaped unharmed.
"Four days ago, this community was shaken by an evil and hateful act", but today "most of all, there is love", the president said. Obama also noted that the shooting was "an act of terrorism but it was also an act of hate" against gays.
"This was an attack on the LGBT community," the president said.
"You can't make up the world into 'us' and 'them'," Obama said, adding that discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is a "betrayal" of the American spirit.
Obama called on US citizens "to end discrimination and violence against our brothers and sisters who are in the LGBT community" and said this is "a good time" to reflect "on how we treat each other, and to insist on respect and equality for every human being".