I've been looking around for what our U.S. Senators and candidates for Senate have had to say about the tragic attack on the members of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Since it's this week's biggest story out of Tennessee and since the Senate voted in September on the Matthew Shepard Act, which would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to federal hate crimes laws, I think it's important to know what they have to say. While statements may not seem like much, at times like this, it helps the community heal when leaders reach out, whatever their positions may be on the specifics of policy.
Senator Bob Corker: As far as I can tell, Senator Corker was the first to issue a statement. He says that he has reached out to Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. Although Senator Corker did not vote for the Matthew Shepard Act, he deserves praise for making his support of the Knoxville community and for local officials known so quickly. It's the right example.
Mike Padgett: I looked on the campaign site and at first didn't find anything. I also didn't recall the shooting being mentioned in any emails. So I contacted Terry Quillen, who pointed out the Knoxville Democrat's blog post dated July 28. His own First Baptist Church hosted a service of prayer for the community. Highlighting the bridge building between two very different congregations is also the right response.
Chris Lugo: Chris Lugo reacted to the news Monday by calling Tennessee Valley UU a "beacon of joy and hope in East Tennessee" and by urging comprehensive gun control.
Bob Tuke: I haven't found a statement yet, so I've asked the campaign for comment.
Kenneth Eaton: I didn't see anything on the main campaign site or on his blog. I've requested comment.
Senator Lamar Alexander: I couldn't find a statement at the Senate or campaign site and I've asked for comment from his campaign, too.
Again, I want to point out that a statement in itself isn't everything. The candidates may have reached out in other ways. I also want to be sure to add that I could have missed their statements. I hope to have updates on all the campaigns whose information I'm lacking.