BY KAREN OCAMB | Five days after the worst massacre in U.S. history on at the gay Pulse nightclub’s Latin night in Orlando, Florida and one year after the shooting of 9 worshipers at the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, the Human Rights Campaign on Friday, June 17, announced a “significant policy” change to address “the epidemic of hate that has fueled anti-LGBTQ motivated murder, assault and discrimination as well as common-sense gun violence prevention policies that would help keep the LGBTQ community safe.”
Noting that LGBTQ people have historically been a target for bias-motivated violence—compounded by easy access to deadly weapons—HRC will now push for “adoption of common-sense gun violence prevention measures, including limiting access to assault-style rifles, expanding background checks, and limiting the ability for suspected terrorists, and those with a history of domestic abuse to access guns,” HRC said in a press release.
“Forty-nine members of our community were murdered on Sunday morning because of a toxic combination of two things: a deranged, unstable individual who had been conditioned to hate LGBTQ people, and easy access to military-style guns. It is imperative that we address both issues in order to mitigate safety risk to our community,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “As a society, we must hold accountable lawmakers, religious leaders and other public officials who put a target on the backs of LGBTQ people through hateful rhetoric and legislation, because they are complicit in the violence fueled by their words and actions. The safety of the LGBTQ community depends on our ability to end both the hatred toward our community and the epidemic of gun violence that has spiraled out of control.”
HRC notes that more than 20 percent of hate crimes reported nationally in 2014 targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the most recent FBI statistics available. However, hate crimes reporting is not mandatory and therefore it is believed the number of hate crimes categories is dramatically undercounted, particularly those based on gender identity. A recent investigation by the Associated Press, HRC notes, found that more than 2,700 city police and county sheriff’s departments across the country had not reported a single hate crime to the FBI for the past six years, representing about 17 percent of these law enforcement agencies nationwide.
But the epidemic has not occurred in a vacuum:
More than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced in 34 states in 2016 alone, “combined with the dangerous rhetoric that lawmakers employ in soliciting support for them, has given license to the view that LGBTQ people are second-class citizens deserving of not only discrimination, but harassment, intimidation, and violence,” says HRC.
most in reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality. These bills have mainly fallen into three categories: the so called “bathroom bills” targeting transgender adults and youth; bills creating broad “religious” loopholes allowing anti-LGBT discrimination based on an individual or organizations professed religious beliefs; and bills aimed at overriding local LGBTQ and other nondiscrimination protections offered by municipal governments.
“The onslaught of these bills, combined with the dangerous rhetoric that lawmakers employ in soliciting support for them, has given license to the view that LGBTQ people are second-class citizens deserving of not only discrimination, but harassment, intimidation, and violence,” says HRC.
The tsunami of anti-LGBT state legislation is made possible because there is no LGBT civil rights protection at the federal level, which would be fixed through passage of the Equality Act. HRC notes, for instance, that while Orlando has a local nondiscrimination law, the state of Florida does not—meaning that any of the survivors of the Pulse massacre outted as LGBT risk being fired, evicted or denied services.
HRC notes that the The New York Times editorialized this week: “Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish.”
The massacre at Pulse underscored, “in the most tragic way imaginable, how deadly hate can be when it is compounded by access to military-style weapons.”
On Monday, the Senate will vote on two gun control measures—one to close the “terrorism gap” to ban suspected terrorists from purchasing guns and the other for universal background checks. Whether the votes go up or down, it is a place to start to see which senators voted with the majority of Americans and which voted with the NRA.
After Orlando, Election 2016 may have just become the most important in U.S. history.
Here’s the full text of the resolution adopted by the Human Rights Campaign follows below:
JOINT RESOLUTION OF
THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN AND
HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN FOUNDATION
BOARDS OF DIRECTORS
JUNE 16, 2016
In an emergency joint meeting held by the Boards of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign, Inc. (“HRC”) and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Inc. (“HRCF”) held by teleconference on June 16, 2016, upon motion, duly made and seconded, both the Board of Directors of HRC and the Board of Directors of HRCF adopted the following resolution:
Whereas, HRC and HRCF Boards grieve the loss of 49 LGBTQ people and allies who were targeted and assassinated — as well as 53 others who were injured — in a premeditated and senseless assault that took place on Sunday, June 12th at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida:
Stanley Almodovar III, 23; Amanda Alvear, 25; Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26; Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33; Antonio Davon Brown, 29; Darryl Roman Burt II, 29; Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28; Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25; Luis Daniel Conde, 39; Cory James Connell, 21; Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25; Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32; Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31; Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25; Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26; Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22; Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22; Paul Terrell Henry, 41; Frank Hernandez, 27; Miguel Angel Honorato, 30; Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40; Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19; Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30; Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25; Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32; Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21; Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49; Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25; Kimberly Morris, 37; Akyra Monet Murray, 18; Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20; Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25; Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36; Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32; Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35; Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25; Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27; Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35; Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24; Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24; Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34; Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33; Martin Benitez Torres, 33; Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24; Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37;
Luis S. Vielma, 22; Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50; Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37; Jerald Arthur Wright, 31;
Whereas, since 1980, the Human Rights Campaign has worked to advance the civil rights of LGBTQ people wherever they have been denied or threatened; recognizing the strength and power of bipartisan coalitions across civil rights movements;
Whereas, we have battled more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced in 34 states this year and we believe that lawmakers behind these bills — with their hateful and dangerous words and actions — eliminate critical protections and give license to others to harass, threaten and terrorize LGBTQ people;
Whereas, we recognize that the tragedy in Orlando that struck at the LGBTQ community, the Latinx community and the nation on an unprecedented scale may have been prevented in several ways: in our mission to realize LGBTQ equality by ensuring full legal equality at the city, state and federal level, including passing the Equality Act; ending the stigma that exists today against LGBTQ people; ensuring the health, safety and well-being of LGBTQ people in their everyday lives; and by ending the ability of dangerous, hate-filled killers to have easy access to deadly, military-style guns;
Whereas, the LGBTQ community has historically been the target of brutal hate crimes, violence and discrimination;
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, the Human Rights Campaign and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that we will continue to challenge leaders and individuals who target our LGBTQ community with hateful speech, and with policies that threaten and undermine the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of our community in ways that can lead to violence; and
Resolved, that we will continue our tireless efforts to achieve full federal equality, end the stigma existing against LGBTQ people today, and ensure the safety, health well-being and legal protections of LGBTQ people in their everyday lives;
Resolved, the Human Rights Campaign and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation to support common-sense gun safety reform within the United States, including limiting access to assault-style rifles, expanding background checks, and limiting the ability for suspected terrorists and those with a history of domestic abuse to access guns;
Resolved, that the Human Rights Campaign and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation will continue its primary focus of working for equality for LGBTQ people, and understand that given the reality of violence today, common-sense gun safety protections are vital to ensure LGBTQ people’s safety;
Resolved, that we stand with organizations and leaders who have committed a lifetime to this work, affirmatively supporting their efforts; and that we recognize our members and supporters, like many of their fellow Americans, are responsible gun owners, who, as survey after survey shows, also support sensible gun safety measures and restrictions on firearms without impacting the rights of responsible gun owners; and that we believe strongly in protecting the Constitutional rights of every American — believing we can protect those rights and innocent people from violence and recognizing that today, there are 49 fewer Americans who can access those rights.
Resolved, that staff is empowered to develop positions for the Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Campaign Foundation and to make further recommendations to the Boards for action consistent with this resolution.
The undersigned hereby certifies that the foregoing is a true record of a resolution duly adopted at a meeting of the Boards of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and that said meeting was held in accordance with District of Columbia law and the By-Laws of the Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights Campaign Foundation by telephone on June 16, 2016, and that said resolution is now in full force and effect without modifications or rescission.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have executed my name as Secretary of the Human Rights Campaign, Inc. and of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Inc.,
the 16th day of June, 2016.
A True Record.