Post submitted by former HRC Communications Campaign Director Brandon Lorenz

HRC will join members of Congress tonight for a vigil on the steps of the U.S. Capitol honoring the 49 LGBTQ people and allies -- almost all Latinx and young -- lost one month ago in the tragic attack in Orlando.

“These 49 individuals, many of them Latinx were brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors, husbands and wives. But above all, they were human beings – human beings who were loved, who had hopes and dreams for long and full lives,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “This deadly attack against our community was the result of a toxic combination of two things: an individual who had been conditioned to hate LGBTQ people, and his all too easy access to military-style guns. It is imperative that we address both issues in order to protect our community.”

Winterhof continued, “Unfortunately, over the last month, Republican leaders have continued to stand in the way of meaningful progress to end hate or gun violence. In the 30 days since these 49 lives behind me were lost, Congress has voted down gun safety legislation over and over again. Yesterday, we learned the RNC is considering adding a slew of provisions targeting LGBTQ people to its official platform. And today, House Republicans convened a hearing to discuss a bill that would sanction taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people in all 50 states.”

HRC’s own tracking shows that 59 percent of known transgender homicide victims in the United States since 2013 have died as a result of gun violence. In 2015, more transgender people were targeted and killed than in any previous year. Additionally, the FBI’s most recent statistics show that more than 20 percent of hate crimes reported nationally in 2014 targeted people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. However these statistics do not track whether these crimes involved guns.

Further, hate crime reporting is not mandatory, and dramatically undercounts the number of hate crimes for all categories. A recent investigation by The Associated Press found that more than 2,700 city police and county sheriff departments across the country, representing about 17 percent of such law enforcement agencies nationwide, had not reported a single hate crime to the FBI for the past six years.

Unfortunately, instead of addressing the issue of bias motivated violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community, House Leadership today shamefully scheduled a hearing on the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) instead. On its face, this legislation purports to prohibit discrimination by the federal government based on individual beliefs about marriage between loving, same-sex couples. In reality, this bill would allow individuals, many businesses, and nonprofit organizations -- even those nonprofit organizations and businesses contracting with the federal government -- to circumvent critical federal protections designed to protect LGBTQ families from harmful discrimination.

A similar anti-LGBTQ measure that was signed into law in Mississippi was blocked by a federal judge on June 30 as a violation of both the Establishment Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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