October 18, 2016 at 5:31 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Murphy campaign ad features Pulse nightclub massacre victim’s mother

Disarm Hate, gun control, Christine Leinonen, gay news, Washington Blade

Christine Leinonen attends the “Disarm Hate” rally at Potomac Park on Aug. 13, 2016. She appears in a campaign ad that Florida Congressman Patrick Murphy released on Oct. 17, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The mother of a gay man who died inside the Pulse nightclub appears in a campaign ad that U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) released on Monday.

Christine Leinonen, the mother of Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, emotionally describes how a gunman shot her son nine times inside the Orlando, Fla., nightclub on June 12.

“He didn’t have a chance,” she says. “And he’s just one of over 100 people who were shot. “He was half of my heart. I’ve lost half of who I am.”

Christine Leinonen’s son and his fiancé, Juan Guerrero, were among the 49 people who died in the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Murphy’s opponent in Florida’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), announced his re-election campaign less than two weeks after the massacre that is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Christine Leinonen in August criticized the Cuban-American Republican for voting “against every piece of common sense gun legislation” since the Pulse nightclub massacre when she spoke with the Washington Blade at a gun control rally in Washington. Christine Leinonen also described Rubio’s decision to deliver the keynote address at an anti-LGBT conference that took place at an Orlando hotel on the second month anniversary of the mass shooting as “infuriating.”

“I cannot understand how Marco Rubio would go back to Washington, D.C., and do nothing,” says Christine Leinonen in the Murphy campaign ad. “I don’t think Patrick Murphy is afraid to take on the toughest problems, including gun violence, in this country.”

Murphy appears with Christine Leinonen at the end of the ad.

“Marco Rubio puts the gun lobby before Florida every time,” wrote Murphy on a post on his Facebook page that contains the ad. “I’m fighting for Christine, those we lost at Pulse, and Florida families.”

A poll that Quinnipiac University released on Tuesday shows Rubio is ahead of Murphy by a 49-47 percent margin.

Christine Leinonen has also endorsed Hillary Clinton.

She said in an emotional speech at the Democratic National Convention that her son was “a big Hillary supporter.” Christine Leinonen also spoke in support of what she described as “common sense” gun control.

“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,” she said. “I never want you to ask that question about your child.”

Donald Trump also spoke at the same Orlando conference at which Rubio appeared. The Republican billionaire sparked outrage when he reiterated his call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S. in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher "Drew" Leinonen, one of the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre, speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Christine Leinonen, mother of Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, one of the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre, speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

7 Comments
  • Why doesn’t she speak out against the hateful ideology that was responsible for her sons death? I guess she knows she would be labeled a “racist”, “hate-mongering”, “Islamophobe”. She should be ashamed of herself for sacrificing her sons memory on the alter of political correctness.

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