In written testimony read in front of the House Oversight and Reform committee on Wednesday, survivors of the Club Q mass shooting directly linked the rhetoric of Republicans to the massacre at the Colorado LGBTQ nightclub and talked about what happened the night of the shooting.
Michael Anderson, who survived the shooting, said to the politicians and activists who say that LGBTQ people groom children and abuse them: “Shame on you.” “As leaders of our country, you have to stand up for all of us, not just the ones you agree with.” Hate speech leads to hate actions, and hate-based actions almost cost me my life when I was 25.
Survivor James Slaugh’s testimony was very emotional. He talked about being shot and seeing his loved ones bleed. He also said that lawmakers’ hateful words were “the direct cause” of what happened at Club Q. He also said that hateful speech that doesn’t directly call for violence can be harmful. This includes speech about which bathrooms LGBTQ people can use and whether they can join certain sports teams.
“Attacks like the one at Club Q are caused by hate speech from politicians, religious leaders, and the media. This needs to stop right now.” “Rhetoric that tries to shut us up about what sports we can play, what bathrooms we can use, how we define our families, and who I can marry,” Slaugh said. “The terrible shooting at Club Q was directly caused by the hateful words you’ve heard from people in power. We need our elected leaders to use words that show love and understanding instead of hate and fear.”
Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York, said in her opening remarks, “My heart breaks for those who had to go through this cruel act of violence. “The attack on Club Q and the LGBTQI community is not an isolated incident; it is part of a larger trend of violence and intimidation across our country.” “The attack on Club Q and the LGBTQI community is not an isolated incident. It is part of a larger trend of violence and intimidation across our country.”
Maloney told the survivors, “Their stories will be a huge help to their community and to our whole country. Many thanks. Let’s honor them by making a new promise to take the big steps needed to make sure that everyone in the United States can live honestly and safely, no matter who they love or how they identify.
Ranking Republican member James Comer, who is expected to take over the committee when Republicans regain the majority next year, strongly disagreed with those comments and defended Republicans against claims that they were contributing to violence.
Comer said, “My thoughts and prayers are with the survivors, the victims, and their families. No one should have to go through what you all have.” Let me be clear: as we have always said, Republicans are against all kinds of violence. Today, unfortunately, Democrats are using committee time and resources to say that this horrible crime was done by Republicans. This is not a hearing to look over things. This is an attempt to put the blame on Republicans so that we don’t have to take responsibility for our own policies of cutting police funding and being soft on crime.
“On this committee, we should use our time and resources to look into the rise of violent crimes against all Americans and organizations. “Every day, Americans live in a high-crime environment, no matter which side of the aisle they are on,” Comer said.
Matthew Haynes, the owner of Club Q and a survivor, seemed to answer Comer directly when he read his prepared remarks. He said, “I know that our Club Q community is in the thoughts and prayers of so many of you. Sadly, these thoughts and prayers are not enough to save lives on their own. They don’t change the way they talk about hate.”
“Safe places like Club Q are more important than ever. We need you, our leaders, to help us and keep us safe.” Haynes said this before he read some of the hate messages he got that were happy about gay people dying.
Haynes criticized Republicans for voting against the Respect for Marriage Act. He said that by doing so, they were sending the message that it was OK to treat marriages badly and not support them. We are being killed and made less human all over this country, in places where you swore to protect us,” Haynes told the lawmakers. “LGBTQ issues are not political issues. They are not ways of life. They aren’t ideas. You don’t have a choice. They are basic rights of all people.”
“That’s why I’m asking you today not just what you’re doing to protect LGBTQ people in America, but what you and other leaders are doing to make America unsafe for LGBTQ people,” he said.
Congress passed the Respect for Marriage Act last month, and President Joe Biden signed it into law on Tuesday. The vote in the House was 258 to 169, with 39 Republicans voting with the Democrats. The bill was approved by the Senate with the help of all the Democrats and 12 Republicans.
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