The internet has lit up in recent days with viral memes pointing out the recent success of the LGBT movement in accomplishing what was previously considered impossible. We’ve changed minds and hearts, repealed anti-LGBT legislation, fought off other discriminatory laws, gained the respect and cooperation of the business community, and made powerful political allies. Who better to take on the NRA and gun nuts who are ruining our country with a slavish devotion to hot lead?
Now 50 major funders and LGBT organizations are making it official in an open letter announcing their intention to fight for stronger protections against gun violence nationwide.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest and most politically connected organization, did not sign on to the letter. Known for their reluctance to join a group effort they can’t lead, the organization instead put out a separate statement today saying they endorse “common sense gun violence prevention policy measures.”
HRC claims they are making “a significant policy announcement,” but in the end their “historic” position is nothing more than a rehash of what the other organizations announced the day before – but written as an incredibly long press release and a wordy “joint resolution” from the group’s board of directors.
The mass sign on letter is on page two. HRC’s stand-alone chest beating is on pages three and four.
As U.S. government leaders continue to grapple with addressing gun violence-prevention following last weekend’s homophobic massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, LGBTQ and gun violence-prevention advocates and activists are calling for more stringent checks to keep guns out of dangerous hands.
The Orlando tragedy, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, highlights how vulnerable LGBTQ communities are to hate-fueled violence, especially LGBTQ communities of color.
Hate violence has risen sharply in recent years, with a 20% increase in reported LGBTQ homicides in the U.S. between 2014 and 2015, according to a study released this week by The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP). Of the homicides reported last year, 62% were LGBTQ people of color.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hate crime statistics tell us year after year that people are most frequently targeted for hate violence based on personal characteristics related to race, religion, and sexual orientation. According to The Williams Institute, gay men report being victims of violent hate crimes at a higher rate than any other targeted group, and these crimes are more violent and result in hospitalization more often.
And yet we cannot ignore the fact that transgender people are at great risk of being victims of hate violence because of their gender identity and this reality is even worse for those who are also targeted on the basis of their race, ethnicity, class, and citizenship status. Fifty four percent of all hate-violence related LGBTQ homicides were transgender women of color, according to the NCAVP study.
We recognize the need to address the bigotry that motivates acts of violence toward LGBTQ people, and we also recognize that such violence is far more deadly when carried out with firearms.
Any solutions to the problem of hate violence, including anti-LGBTQ violence, must address the alarmingly easy access that bigots have to such deadly weapons. For example, under current law, people convicted of violent hate crimes can legally buy and possess guns. This is unacceptable.
With each new massacre, most recently the one in Orlando, we hope the number of homicides has pushed Americans over the threshold of tolerance for hatred fueled by people who seek to divide the country; for weak gun laws that arm those with hate in their hearts; and for the more than 90 victims of gun killings nationwide each day, affecting people of all backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities.
Assault-style weapons, like the Sig Sauer MCX rifle used in Sunday’s Pulse nightclub shooting, can be purchased legally in the state of Florida without a background check – as long as the purchase is made from an unlicensed seller.
Eighteen states have already taken steps to close this dangerous “unlicensed sale loophole.” But in the remaining states, including Florida, anyone can buy a gun from an unlicensed seller with no background check, no questions asked.
Under current U.S. federal law, people on terror watch lists can legally buy guns, exploiting this “terror gap.” Since 2004, more than 2,000 terror suspects have taken advantage of this loophole. But we also recognize how this screening mechanism has the dangerous potential to profile specific communities on the basis of their actual or perceived race, religion, national origin, and other attributes.
Orlando is the sixth mass shooting  in the U.S. since January 2009 to be investigated as an act of terrorism by the FBI. Americans are 25 times more likely than people in other developed countries to fall victim to a gun homicide.
The federal background check system established in 1994 by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act has blocked more than 2.6 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers at licensed dealers; however, an estimated 40% of gun sales across the U.S. take place without a background check, primarily at gun shows and online.
We urge Congress to make a start towards stronger protections against gun violence nationwide by enacting laws to:
- Prevent known and suspected terrorists and those convicted of violent hate crimes from legally buying guns.
- Ensure that criminal background checks are required on all gun sales, including online and at gun shows.
Listed alphabetically as of June 16, 2016
Americans for Responsible Solutions
The Arcus Fund
Auburn Theological Seminary
Believe Out Loud
Bisexual Resource Center
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence United with The Million Mom March
Campaign To Unload
Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
The David Bohnett Foundation
Equality New Mexico
Equality North Carolina
Everytown for Gun Safety
Faith in America
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Work
Gay Men’s Health Crisis
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality
GroundSpark/The Respect for All Project
GSA Network – Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network
International Imperial Court System
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
National LGBTQ Task Force
NMAC: National Minority AIDS Council
National Religious Leadership Roundtable
New York City Anti-Violence Project
Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Pride at Work
Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
Stonewall National Museum & Archives
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund
The Trevor Project
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER)
 The previous attacks were in Fort Hood, Texas (2009); Oak Creek, Wisconsin (2012); Charleston, South Carolina (2015); Chattanooga, Tennessee (2015); and San Bernardino, California (2015).
Following Tragic Anti-LGBTQ Attack in Orlando, HRC Endorses Common-Sense Gun Violence Prevention Policy Measures
LGBTQ community has been the target of hate-fueled violence and discrimination for decades; easy access to guns has compounded safety threat
WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, made a significant policy announcement in the aftermath of last Sunday’s hate-fueled attack in Orlando targeting the LGBTQ community at Pulse nightclub’s Latin night.
During a special meeting of the Human Rights Campaign’s Board of Directors Thursday evening, the board adopted a resolution recommended by HRC President Chad Griffin that addresses both 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. For decades, LGBTQ people have been a target for bias-motivated violence, and easy access to deadly weapons has compounded this threat. The resolution adopted in Thursday’s special meeting establishes HRC’s organizational position that the safety of LGBTQ people in the United States requires the 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 President Chad Griffin issued the following statement on the resolution: “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. 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.”
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. Hate crimes reporting is not mandatory, and dramatically undercounts the number of hate crimes for all categories, particularly those based on gender identity. A recent investigation by the Associated Press 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.
HRC has observed alarming violence from coast to coast against the backdrop of more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been introduced in 34 states in 2016 alone. In the wake of last year’s marriage equality ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States, anti-LGBTQ activists have introduced a wide range of legislation targeting LGBTQ people. These bills have mainly fallen into three categories: bills targeting transgender adults and youth, including blocking their access to appropriate restrooms and other public facilities; bills creating broad “religious” loopholes enabling virtually any individual or organization to discriminate; and bills aimed overriding local LGBTQ 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.
This wave of anti-LGBTQ state legislation is made possible by a lack of comprehensive federal LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections. Last year, HRC helped introduce the Equality Act to ensure that LGBTQ people are protected by our nation’s civil rights laws. Today, only 18 states and just over 100 cities have comprehensive, statewide nondiscrimination protections inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity. While Orlando has established local nondiscrimination protections, Florida does not guarantee statewide protections and LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services because of who they are.
As 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.” Sunday’s attack at Pulse nightclub has underscored, in the most tragic way imaginable, how deadly hate can be when it is compounded by access to military-style weapons.
The Human Rights Campaign has occasionally adopted positions on broader policy issues which deeply impact the LGBTQ community, but this is the first time in the organization’s 36-year history that a special session has been called in order to do so. Moving forward, the Human Rights Campaign — which will remain focused achieving full federal equality, ending anti-LGBTQ hate, and ensuring the safety, health, well-being and legal protections of LGBTQ people — will work in coalition with gun safety advocates and other allies in the LGBTQ movement and beyond to realize its goals for stemming the epidemic of gun violence.
Full text of the resolution adopted by the Human Rights Campaign follows below:
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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.