Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox spoke on Monday evening at a vigil in Salt Lake City to honor the people killed and wounded in the weekend shooting at an Orlando gay club. Cox, a Republican, struggled to keep his voice from breaking as he apologized for bullying gay people in the past.
“I grew up in a small town and went to a small rural high school,” he told the crowd. “There were some kids in my class that were different. Sometimes I wasn’t kind to them. I didn’t know it at the time, but I know now that they were gay. I will forever regret not treating them with the kindness, dignity and respect — the love — that they deserved. For that, I sincerely and humbly apologize.”
Cox grew up in rural Sanpete, Utah, in the central part of the state, and belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He became lieutenant governor in 2013 and is up for re-election this fall.
During his speech, Cox also delivered a message to those who might judge the people who were murdered.
“How did you feel when you heard that 49 people had been gunned down by a self-proclaimed terrorist?” he asked. “That’s the easy question. Here is the hard one: Did that feeling change when you found out the shooting was at a gay bar at 2 a.m. in the morning?”
“If that feeling changed, then we are doing something wrong,” he said.
Read the full transcript here.