Democrats accuse Republicans of ‘villainizing’ LGBTQ+ community and fueling violence – live

Maloney: Republicans fueling violence by ‘villainizing’ LBGTQ+ community

House oversight committee chair Carolyn Maloney is laying into Republicans for a wave of anti-LBGTQ+ legislation she says “villainizes” that community and is fueling a surge of violence against them.

Her comments came at the opening of the panel’s hearing into the rise of the violence, including last month’s Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs that killed five.

Maloney, a New York Democrat, said:

These actions are the culmination of years of anti LGBTQ extremism that began in state houses across the country and spread to social media, boiling over into the communities where we reside.

In 2018, Republicans and state governments across the country introduced 110 pieces of legislation targeting the health and safety of LGBTQI people.

In the past legislative session, this number tripled, to more than 340 pieces of anti LGBTQI legislation. These bills villainized LGBTQI+ people in classroom settings, and targeted health care for LGBTQI people, and more directly threaten the freedom of LGBTQI people to live authentically and safely.

She is singling out Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay law, and the state’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis, for special criticism:

This “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law erases the existence of LGBTQI people, and families, and muzzles our nation’s brightest educators.

Within a month of Florida passing this legislation, two additional states passed similar bills. In total 48 bills in more than 20 states have considered eliminating or suppressing LGBTQI people and history in the school curriculum.

Key events

Barack Obama has called the Sandy Hook massacre “the single darkest day of my presidency”.

In his own statement marking the 10th anniversary of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the former president also said he believed “the tide is turning” on gun violence.

I consider December 14th, 2012 the single darkest day of my presidency. The news from Sandy Hook Elementary was devastating, a visceral blow, and like so many others, I felt not just sorrow but anger at a world that could allow such things to happen. pic.twitter.com/Y2log7FBaH

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 14, 2022

His administration was unable to renew a nationwide assault weapons ban, lamenting that inaction on gun safety laws was the “biggest regret” of his time in office.

Here’s Obama’s statement today:

The news from Sandy Hook Elementary was devastating, a visceral blow, and like so many others, I felt not just sorrow but anger at a world that could allow such things to happen.

Even then we understood that mere words could only do so much to ease the burden of the families who were suffering. But in the years since, each of them has borne that weight with strength and with grace. And they’ve drawn purpose from tragedy – doing everything in their power to make sure other children and families never have to experience what they and their loved ones did.

The journey hasn’t always been easy – and in a year when there hasn’t been a single week without a mass shooting somewhere in America, it’s clear our work is far from over. But of late, I’ve sensed that slowly, steadily, the tide is turning; that real change is possible. And I feel that way in no small part because of the families of Sandy Hook Elementary.

Ten years ago, we all would have understood if those families had simply asked for privacy and closed themselves off from the world. But instead, they took unimaginable sorrow and channeled it into a righteous cause – setting an example of strength and resolve.

They’ve made us proud. And if they were here today, I know the children and educators we lost a decade ago would be proud, too.

Back at the House oversight hearing into anti-LGBTQ+ violence, Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) says her group has recorded an alarming surge in hate-related killings:

Over the last 10 years, the campaign has tracked over 300 incidents of fatal violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people. In 2022 so far, we’ve recorded the murder of 35 people.

It’s fueled by nearly unfettered access to guns, political extremism and rhetoric that is deliberately devised to make our community less safe, less equal, and less free. Violence has become a lived reality for so many in our community.

Robinson condemns “unrelenting efforts by extremist lawmakers help reinforce inflammatory narratives of our community”.

In 2020 alone, she says, HRC recorded efforts to pass 344 “anti-LBGTQ+” bills in 23 states, but regardless of how many were passed “these narratives have been weaponized many times” and “encourage extremist rhetoric and to enable violence”.

She calls on Congress to pass the Equality Act (which passed the House but stalled in the Senate) “to level the playing field and ensure that LGBTQ plus people are protected from discrimination”.

Biden: US should have ‘societal guilt’ over Sandy Hook

Martin Pengelly

Joe Biden has released a statement marking the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, in which 20 young children and six adults were killed in Newtown, Connecticut.

Ten years ago today, the president says, “our nation watched as the unthinkable happened. Twenty young children with their whole lives ahead of them. Six educators who gave their lives protecting their students. And countless survivors who still carry the wounds of that day.

We should have societal guilt for taking too long to deal with this problem. We have a moral obligation to pass and enforce laws that can prevent these things from happening again. We owe it to the courageous, young survivors and to the families who lost part of their soul 10 years ago to turn their pain into purpose.

A few months ago, I signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law. We’ve reined in so-called ghost guns which have no serial numbers and are harder to trace. We’ve cracked down on gun trafficking and increased resources for violence prevention.

Still, we must do more. I am determined to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines like those used at Sandy Hook and countless other mass shootings in America. Enough is enough. Our obligation is clear. We must eliminate these weapons that have no purpose other than to kill people in large numbers. It is within our power to do this – for the sake of not only the lives of the innocents lost, but for the survivors who still hope.

Biden was vice-president to Barack Obama when Sandy Hook happened, on 14 December 2012. In the aftermath, with Democrats in Congress, the two men launched a push for meaningful gun reform – which failed.

In his own statement today, Obama said the day of the shooting was “the single darkest day of my presidency. The news from Sandy Hook elementary was devastating, a visceral blow, and like so many others, I felt not just sorrow but anger at a world that could allow such things to happen.”

As Biden said, some progress has been made on gun control reform this year – after the shooting deaths in May of 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Obama said: “I’ve sensed that slowly, steadily, the tide is turning; that real change is possible. And I feel that way in no small part because of the families of Sandy Hook elementary.”

Further reading:

As the House oversight panel hearing into anti-LBGTQ+ violence continues, committee chair Carolyn Maloney accuses Republicans of “fanning the flames of bigotry”.

She says Democrats, meanwhile, “have remained committed to protecting and advancing the health, safety and rights of the LGBTQ+ people”.

Make no mistake: the rise of anti-LGBTQI+ violence in America is fueled by hateful policies that target LGBTQI+ individuals at every level of government.

Join @OversightDems in standing with the LGBTQI+ community➡️ https://t.co/vPSqn9Jvi4

— Rep. Hank Johnson (@RepHankJohnson) December 14, 2022

Unsurprisingly, Republican ranking member James Comer of Kentucky is having none of it. He starts by paying tribute to the Club Q victims, but veers quickly on to a rant about the hearing itself.

“Democrats are using committee time and resources today to blame Republicans for this horrendous crime,” he says.

“This is not an oversight hearing. This is a ‘blame Republicans so we don’t have to take responsibility for our own defund the police and soft-on-crime policies’,” he insists, without citing any.

The Club Q shooter, he says, was “known to law enforcement”, and he follows up with a list of crime statistics in various cities he says shows the Biden administration is “reckless and irresponsible”.

The panel is now taking a brief recess before witness testimony begins.

Also facing criticism and anger for a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech online is Elon Musk, the billionaire Twitter owner and former world’s richest man accused overseeing a degradation in standards in the social media network.

Maloney played a video made by Sarah Kate Ellis, chief executive of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

“A new GLAAD poll found 48% of LGBTQ people and 72% of transgender respondents fear for their safety in the current political environment. Why is this happening?” Ellis wonders.

She says it “starts with candidates and politicians who deliberately spread disinformation and anti LGBTQ inflammatory political messaging. It continues with media”.

Ellis says Fox News aired 170 anti-transgender segments in a three week span. She accuses the New York Times of approaching transgender healthcare as a debate, not “settled medicine”.

She adds:

This rhetoric gets amplified on social media, where hate gets organized into action.

Facebook too often refuses to act on the content that spreads lines. On Twitter New Media Matters data shows the malicious, defamatory slurs and rumors increased over 1200% from nine accounts since Elon Musk took over.

This behavior is all exacerbated when bad actors have easy access to assault weapons.

Maloney: Republicans fueling violence by ‘villainizing’ LBGTQ+ community

House oversight committee chair Carolyn Maloney is laying into Republicans for a wave of anti-LBGTQ+ legislation she says “villainizes” that community and is fueling a surge of violence against them.

Her comments came at the opening of the panel’s hearing into the rise of the violence, including last month’s Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs that killed five.

Maloney, a New York Democrat, said:

These actions are the culmination of years of anti LGBTQ extremism that began in state houses across the country and spread to social media, boiling over into the communities where we reside.

In 2018, Republicans and state governments across the country introduced 110 pieces of legislation targeting the health and safety of LGBTQI people.

In the past legislative session, this number tripled, to more than 340 pieces of anti LGBTQI legislation. These bills villainized LGBTQI+ people in classroom settings, and targeted health care for LGBTQI people, and more directly threaten the freedom of LGBTQI people to live authentically and safely.

She is singling out Florida’s so-called Don’t Say Gay law, and the state’s Republican governor Ron DeSantis, for special criticism:

This “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” law erases the existence of LGBTQI people, and families, and muzzles our nation’s brightest educators.

Within a month of Florida passing this legislation, two additional states passed similar bills. In total 48 bills in more than 20 states have considered eliminating or suppressing LGBTQI people and history in the school curriculum.

The House hearing on anti-LGBTQ+ attacks is not this morning’s only event looking at the scourge of gun violence.

It’s the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that cost 26 people their lives, including 20 six and seven-year-olds, and Connecticut senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal will speak on the chamber floor at 10.30am to commemorate those lost.

Murphy, in particular, has become a strong gun control proponent. He issued a statement this morning ahead of his Senate speech:

The nation is a different place, 10 years since 20 innocent children and six dedicated educators were senselessly killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School. Mostly today, I will think of all the greatness and beauty that was robbed from this world, when these promising lives were cut short.

Mostly, I will spend my day today sending every good thought I have to the family members who lost loved ones that day, to the survivors of the shooting, to the first responders, and to the community of Newtown that will never be the same.

It’s been 10 years since the tragedy at Sandy Hook. A million things run through my mind today, thinking back on that awful day.

But mainly, I think about the things we take for granted.

How it can all disappear.

And the daily kindness and grace that Sandy Hook should inspire.

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) December 14, 2022

But also today, I will be thankful. I will be thankful for all the good that has resulted from this horror. Those parents, and the community of Newtown, have chosen to rise from that tragedy and build dozens of efforts that have changed lives for the better all over our nation.

And many in Newtown have helped build the modern anti-gun violence movement, that finally this summer achieved the first federal gun safety bill in almost 30 years.

Today, I’m so sad for what we lost. But I’m also so inspired and hopeful for all the grace and kindness that has grown out of tragedy, and for all that will come in the future.

Read more:

South Carolina Republican congressman Ralph Norman acknowledges he made a mistake supporting Donald Trump’s January 6 insurrection. But it’s not what you might think, according to Martin Pengelly:

A Republican who urged the Trump White House to declare martial law to stop Joe Biden taking office has only one regret: that he misspelled “martial”.

The text from Ralph Norman of South Carolina to Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s final chief of staff, was given to the January 6 committee by Meadows and revealed by Talking Points Memo this week.

Ralph Norman.
Ralph Norman. Photograph: Ralph Norman/Reuters

On 17 January 2021, 11 days after the deadly Capitol attack and three days before Biden’s inauguration, Norman wrote: “Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of no return in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marshall Law!! PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!”

No response from Meadows was revealed.

On Tuesday, a HuffPo reporter asked Norman about the message.

Norman said: “Well, I misspelled ‘martial’.”

He added: “I was very frustrated then, I’m frustrated now. I was frustrated then by what was going on in the Capitol. President Biden was in his basement the whole year. Dominion was raising all kinda questions.”

The reference to Biden’s basement was to the then Democratic candidate’s decision largely to stay off the campaign trail in 2020, the year of the Covid pandemic.

Read the full story:

While we wait for the House hearing to begin on violence against the LGBTQ+ community, here’s the report by by colleagues Lauren Gambino and David Smith on last night’s signing by Joe Biden of the landmark Respect for Marriage Act:

Joe Biden on Tuesday signed into law landmark legislation protecting same-sex marriages, hailing it as a step toward building a nation where “decency, dignity and love are recognized, honored and protected”.

The signing ceremony on the White House South Lawn was a celebration, with guests waving rainbow flags and performances by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC, Sam Smith and Cyndi Lauper.

“This law and the love it defends strikes a blow against hate in all its forms,” Biden said, before signing the Respect for Marriage Act.

The ceremony was personal for many in attendance. The transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay cabinet member, was there. Also present was Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic senator from Wisconsin, a lead sponsor of the bill and the first openly gay member of that chamber.

The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said he was wearing the same purple tie he wore to his daughter’s wedding. Schumer’s daughter and her wife are expecting their first child next year.

“Thanks to the dogged work of many of my colleagues, my grandchild will live in a world that will respect and honor their mothers’ marriage,” the New York Democrat said, his voice catching.

There was sustained applause for the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. The long-serving congresswoman from San Francisco, a prominent champion of LGBTQ+ rights, praised the crowd of advocates and activists for their “patriotism” and “impatience”. Pelosi, who will soon step down from Democratic leadership, said it was fitting that “one of my final acts as speaker” was to gavel down the vote protecting same-sex marriage last week.

The historic legislation protects same-sex and interracial marriages, prohibiting federal and state governments from denying the validity of a lawfully performed union on the basis of sex, race or ethnicity.

Read the full story:

Survivors of last month’s Club Q attack in Colorado Springs are expected to deliver powerful testimony this morning as the House oversight committee grapples with a surge of violence against the LGBTQ+ community.

Five people were killed in the shooting, and three people who were there will appear today to give evidence alongside a survivor of the 2016 attack on Orlando’s gay Pulse nightclub that killed 49.

Democrats are highlighting a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ extremism and rhetoric that they say is fueled by “despicable policies that Republicans at every level of government are advancing”, according to committee chair Carolyn Maloney.

Mourners inspect a makeshift memorial for victims of Club Q mass shooting in Colorado Springs.
Mourners inspect a makeshift memorial for victims of Club Q mass shooting in Colorado Springs. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The panel is looking at hundreds of pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation passed in recent months, including Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law that bans discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in many classrooms.

The Human Rights Campaign recorded a more than 400% rise in online hate talk, including branding LGBTQ+ people as “groomers” or “pedophiles”, after the Florida law was passed.

Such policies, Maloney says:

Attack the health and safety of LGBTQ+ people, are harming the LGBTQ+ community, and contributing to tragedies like what we saw at Club Q.

Republicans on my committee and across the country will be forced to face the real-life impact of their dangerous agenda.”

The hearing comes in the wake of last night’s landmark signing by Joe Biden at the White House of the Respect for Marriage Act protecting same-sex unions.

“This law and the love it defends strikes a blow against hate in all its forms,” the president said.

Club Q survivors Michael Anderson and James Slaugh, and the club’s co-founder Matthew Haynes, will give testimony today, along with Brandon Wolf, a gun control activist and Pulse survivor.

Wolf wrote in the Guardian last month about how a rise in rightwing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric has made such attacks inevitable.

Read more:

Good morning politics blog readers. Violence against the LGBTQ+ community will be the focus of a House hearing this morning, with survivors of mass shootings giving testimony about recent attacks.

Democrats are highlighting a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ extremism and rhetoric, fueled by “despicable policies that Republicans at every level of government are advancing”, according to House oversight committee chair Carolyn Maloney, for the surge in violence.

Three survivors of last month’s deadly Club Q mass shooting in Colorado Springs will be among the witnesses for a hearing that’s scheduled to start at 10am.

Here’s what else we’ll be following on what promises to be a lively day:

  • Joe Biden will make remarks at 1.30pm ahead of a business meeting with African leaders this afternoon, and a dinner tonight.

  • Connecticut senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy will speak on the chamber floor at 10.30am on the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.

  • The Senate banking committee will hold a hearing about the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

  • The House is expected to vote at lunchtime on a short-term spending measure that will keep the government funded for a week beyond Friday.

  • The federal reserve is expected to announce its latest interest rate decision at 2pm followed in short order by a press conference from Fed chair Jerome Powell.

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