Just 12 hours before the mass shooting in Orlando, Maryland's only openly gay senator marched in the gay pride festival in the Washington region.
"I turned to my husband and I was like, 'Can you imagine the progress that we have made over the last 15 years?' “ said Sen. Rich Madaleno, “There was so much enthusiasm and love and then to wake up Sunday morning and see this... to see a gay night club targeted... shot up, it just... it was heart wrenching."
The shooter identified himself as a Muslim, which has left the Council on American-Islamic relations trying to counter any possible backlash.
"Homophobia and Islamophobia are interconnected systems of oppression,” said Dr. Zainab Chaudry, CAIR Maryland Outreach Manager. “We cannot champion the rights of one community and ignore or remain silent on the rights of another."
Imam Michael Smith of the Islam Society of Annapolis says his first reaction to the shooting was to seek out his next door neighbor, who happens to be a homosexual.
"I knocked on his door and he opened the door and when he opened the door, his eyes filled with such love and compassion,” Smith said. “I did not know what to say to him and he did not know what to say to me, but we hugged each other and we said, 'We as a community will move forward.'"
It is a point not lost upon everyone who gathered in the heart of Baltimore Monday---all of them representing various segments of this country, which have been marginalized in the past, now standing side by side in the face of the deadliest mass shooting in history.
"As a community, we need to move forward to make sure this does not happen again and we have to move together as a community to make sure no one is scapegoated --- that there is no group punishment out of this, because this shooter no more represented Islam than I do," said Madaleno.
In the first 36 hours after the shooting, CAIR points out Muslims from across the country have raised tens of thousands of dollars and are flocking to donate blood to help both the victim's families and the survivors.