Thursday, December 15, 2022. The House Oversight and Reform Committee held a hearing on violence against LGBTQ+ members.
We'll start with this.
Anderson: I was bartending that evening when the attack began. I felt
more terrified than I ever have before. I ran for my life that night
and hid -- praying and hoping the violence would end. When I stared
down the barrel of that gun, I realized I stood no chance against a
weapon of that power, magazine capacity, and seemingly automatic firing
rate. While I prepared for my life to end in that moment, I prayed. I
panicked. And I prayed some more. God must have heard my prayers
because two brave men stopped the shooter moments before he would have
inevitably found me. I saw my friend lying on the floor, bleeding out,
knowing there was little to no chance of surviving the bullet wound. I
had to tell him goodbye while I continued to fear for my life, not
knowing if the attack was truly over.
Slaugh: The events of November 19th were a nightmare come true. Right
before midnight, on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, my
boyfriend Jancarlos and I were about to leave when a shooter walked in.
Several POPs rang out and I immediately felt a searing pain in my arm.
I fell over knowing I had been shot. My right arm wasn't working but I
was able to call 911. I saw everyone on the ground, glass panes
shattered and blood running from my arm and chest where shrapnel had
come through. Jancarlos was next to me, shot in the leg, but thankfully
alive. To my horror though, I saw my sister bleeding out. She had
been shot over five times. My heart rended ed as she tried to dial 911
with her good arm. I called out to her and I heard no response. I
don't want to imagine what may have happened had the shooter not been
taken down. Five wonderful people were still murdered and may we never
forget their names
Haynes: When I opened Club Q twenty years ago, Colorado Springs was a
very different place. There were picketers greeting our opening. I'm
proud to have remained in Colorado Springs over the years -- even when
we did not feel welcome. Club ! has been a home for the community for
20 years. We are proud to say it will once again become the home for
our community. One man full of hate will not destroy us. Club Q is for
everyone regardless of who they love and how they present, regardless
if this is different than how you or I may love. LGBTQ venues and small
business across our nation are extensions of family for us all. And,
for many, they are the only places we can find acceptance. Club Q will
need all the resources available to help us rebuild what was stolen from
James and Matthew survived last month's shooting at Club Q. The three
were testifying before The House Committee on Oversight and Reform. US
House Rep Carolyn Maloney is the Chair of the Committee.
"Let us honor Club Q by recommitting to the bold action necessary to ensure that every person in the United States can experience the freedom to live authentically and safely—regardless of who they love or how they identify." - Chair @RepMaloney
Carolyn leaves Congress next month. She was first sworn in in January of 1993. She used her last weeks in Congress to focus on a very important issue -- at least important to most people. It wasn't important to any Republican on the Committee and I do have to wonder if they're unaware that they have members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies of the community in their districts? It would be great if, in 2024, these 'representatives' could be voted out.
Chair Carolyn Maloney: The violence that took place at Club Q follows
years of long efforts by some state lawmakers to erase LGBTQ+ people
from school curriculum, limit their access to healthcare and undermine
their ability to fully participate in society. Now state lawmakers are
not alone. They're have been many actions here in Congress pushing the
same kind of draconian, extremist policies. For example, more than 30
House Republicans introduced their own version of Florida's "Don't Say
Gay or Trans" law which would restrict federal funding for schools that
include LGBTQ+ people in their curriculum. I'd like to ask Ms.
Robinson: How would a federal policy suppress even mentioning LGBTQ+
persons in classrooms further undermine the ability of LGBTQ+ Americans
to live authentically and safely? Ms. Robinson?
Robinson: Thank you for the question. And it's so critically important
what we teach our kids matters. We're teaching curriculum that not
only shows how important history is and what we can be in the future but
also what we value, who matters, who deserves dignity and respect. If
we erase LGBTQ+ people from the curriculum, it erases a value in our
lives. As Brandon said, this is our opportunity to be better and we can
do that. And it starts with how we educate our children. And I also
want to be clear that when we allow the pieces of legislation to move
forward that erase our communities, that dehumanize us, what it does is
create a dangerous environment that does support and feed these seeds of
hatred that exist in our world. It's not only dangerous, it's violent
to our people.
Chair Carolyn Maloney: Thank you. Ms. Pocock, what would a federal
"Don't Say Gay or Trans" law mean for the LGBTQ+ youth navigating their
communities across the country from your experience?
Pocock: Yes, you know, we worked really hard on a similar "Don't Say
Gay" bill that was being proposed in our, uh, in our state and, you
know, the truth is that we all need mentors and examples that we can
grow into and see ourselves in. And when our -- When we as a nation are
hiding our faces or our experiences or our contributions to this
nation, it really impacts young people and their ability to see others
like them and their ability to learn how we've contributed to this
nation. But more than that, it's erasure and it hurts. And so our
young people tell us that what they see and hear and feel when school
board members or politicians are advocating to erase them is that they
feel like they don't belong. They feel like their public schools are
not for them. And so it is so critically important that we are always
cheering these young people on. And one real simple way to do that is
to give them access to folks like me and those of us on the panel who
are LGBTQ and incredible human beings in this world because they can be
too. They just need us to support them and show them how.
Chair Carolyn Mahoney: Thank you. Following the enactment of
Florida's "Don't Say Gay or Trans" law, anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric on social
media surged by more than 400%. Astonishingly. Dr Meyer, what is the
relationship between this surge and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and the kind of
violence that took place at Club Q last month?
Ilan Meyer: I think it was mentioned already in the panel, this kind
of incitement encourages people to enact what they think is righteous
because of religious convictions and other types of ideologies that are
portrayed on social media wrongly and clearly this is creating an
environment where such violence is seen as not only acceptable but, as I
said, righteous and desirable and causing LGBT people a lot of harm --
not only in the -- those of them who actually experience violence, but
also everybody in the community who witnesses it,
A note. Many Democrats in the hearing use LGBTQIA. Some used the more
common LGBTQ or LGBTQ+. I myself haven't used LGBTQAI here. It stands
for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual.
That's an expansive term and it's good to expand. We'll try to use it here in the future.
move to two idiots. First, Yvette Herrell. She showed up for a moment
in the hearing and completely misunderstood everything had been said --
most importantly when she completely distorted Dr Meyer's remarks,
twisted them to make them something he never said. I am not going to
sully his reputation by repeating her nonsense here. She also didn't
understand basic English as evidenced by her distortion of what Dr
Pocock was speaking of. (Or maybe her staff just wrote her poor crib
notes -- she wasn't present for the remarks from either that she elected
to comment on.)
Another idiot? Ranking
Member James Comer used the hearing to repeatedly play a victim. Most
infamously where he all but sobbed while proclaiming of the hearing:
Unfortunately, Democrats are using Committee time and resources today to blame Republicans for this horrendous crime. 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 politics.
Defund the police and soft on crime policies?
Let's, for the sake of argument, insist that's true.
What the hell does that have to do with the shooting?
Three patrons of the bar -- Richard M. Fierro, Thomas James and an unidentified trans woman -- took the shooter out. This wasn't a case
where the police were outside the club waiting to come in. Does Comer
really believe what he said? If so, can he pass a drug screen?
he can't, that would explain the hair. Did no one on his staff have a
comb? You can't get those cheap hair cuts and not comb. I don't have
to comb. All I have to do is run my fingers through my hair. But I pay
for a good haircut. The upper right side of his hair looked like he
cut it himself. And someone please tell him to sit on his jacket's coat tails or not
to wear the jacket. Is he that stupid? Does he not know you sit on the jacket
to get a crisp and clear line on the shoulders?
also lost it during US House Rep Cori Bush's time.
For those who don't
know, unlike the Senate, members of the House have only five minutes each round for questioning and comments during a hearing. Five minutes. And any sensible person knows not to interrupt a
committee member during their five minutes (five each round). But there
was Comer sputtering of Bush's remarks -- while she was speaking, "That -- that -- Madam Chair --
I mean, my G**." If you're new here, out of respect for all, we do not
allow what some see as blasphemy to go up here -- for any deity. We
always censor God if it's being used in vain. That's why we're
censoring Comer. I'll also add that I believe he was using the name in
vain. I could be wrong. You could also read it as he was calling
Carolyn Maloney his God. I don't think that's the case but I'll give
him the benefit of the doubt.
that he earned it.
He gave an opening statement that was over 640
words long. In it, he did manage to decry attacks on African-Americans,
on "Asian communities, Jewish communities and Christian communities" on
"churches and pro-life institution," on "all races and ethnicities" . .
. He left "on Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen."
Know who else he left out?
That's what the hearing was about but in his opening remarks he did not
note them. (He referred to victims! Yes, he did. And, sorry, the
victims included straight people.) A hearing about violence against
LGBTQ+ and Comer can whine about himself but can't say, even once, that
attacks on LGBTQ+ are wrong. "Republicans condemn violence in all
forms," he insisted . . . while refusing to decry violence against that
He's full of it.
everyone needs to grasp that. Do not say, "Well he said all forms."
Yes, he did. And then he went on to specify groupings, many, many
groupings. None of which were lesbians, gay men, bisexuals or
transgenders. That is reality. Those were his own words and he wrote
his opening statement out ahead of time. He included every word he
wanted. He didn't want to include LGBTQ+. Don't pretend otherwise
unless you're an Aunty Gigi (a self-loathing closet case who is more
worried about impressing straight conservatives than in defending his
own rights and those of his family. Aunty Gigi is best exemplified by
Let's also note that he looked like he wanted to puke when Michael Anderson testified the following:
To my fellow LGBTQ community, events like this are designed to discourage us from speaking and living our truth. They are designed to scare us from living openly, courageously and proudly. We must not succumb to fear, we must live prouder and louder than ever before. We must continue to be who we are, for who we are is exactly who we are meant to be. And to the children watching this, feeling you may not be like other kids: I understand you and I see you. You deserve to be exactly who you are, no matter what anyone has to say. In the words of my personal gay icon Christina Aguilera, you are beautiful no matter what they say. Words can't bring you down, so don't let them bring you down today.
sure the Aunty Gigis will insist that by not naming them, Comer was
being kind -- after all so many others in his Republican Party trash
them out right with one lie after another. They'll pick the belly lint
and be content pretending its chocolate covered cherries. Too bad for
Aunty Gigi, the rest of the country's not so pathetic.
five people were killed in the attack on Club Q and twenty-five were injured (but how nice for Comer
to try to make it all about himself). James Slaugh spoke of his sister
who was injured in the attack:
have always struggled with my sexuality, not because I deny who I am,
but because many others do -- because others want to hurt me for being
me. My coming out story involves my family and their support. My
sister Charlene paved the way for me to accept myself. After she was
forced out of the closet and ultimately the house by our mom who -- at
the time -- believed being gay was a sin, our household went through a
transformation. In the end, love won, as it always will. Our mom
became loving and accepting. She chose her children and it was this
road to my sister and I had to endure that allowed me to feel safe
enough to say, 'Hey, Mom, I like guys.' She recently passed. But
before she did, for the past 15 years, she has been an advocate for our
community, especially in her religious circles.
Comer was imitated by his fellow Republicans on the Committee. Virginia Foxx, Fred Keller, Jody Hice also couldn't say gay or trans -- maybe they thought were in a Florida school?
Couldn't mention the L or the G or the B or the T or the Q.
We need to note Glenn Grothman because he did say "gay." He truly did. Speaking of people murdered in the US this year, he decalred, "I assume some of them were gay -- I don't know."
He didn't know.
I guess that passes for compassion and awareness for Republicans on the Committee.
It was funny to watch the Republicans run from the terms. Jody Hice, for example, freaking out and frothing about how people "blame Republicans for these attacks" without ever saying who the attacks were on.
Hice did say that "the rise of hate crimes concerns me, it concerns all of us" and went on to identify the "hate crimes" as mean people who said Trump staffers should have difficulty finding employment.
Yes, that is the great hate crime, Hice, you nailed it.
And he offered this statement -- without saying who said it or whom it was said to -- as an example of a hate crime, "You're all trash. I hate you and I wish you harm."
Jody, when your wife speaks to you like that, consider marital counseling.
Jody did manage to say, as he got really angry about someone being denied service at a food establishment, "This was not LGB community, this was Christians!''
Dr. Meyers tried to explain what a hate crime was during the hearing and it sailed right over the Republicans heads.
Let's not the Committee's press release on the hearing:
At Oversight Committee Hearing, Survivors of Anti-LGBTQI+ Violence Underscore Dangers of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism
Dec 14, 2022
At Oversight Committee Hearing, Survivors of Anti-LGBTQI+ Violence Underscore Dangers of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism
Washington, D.C. (Dec. 14, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, held a hearing to
examine how the surge of anti-LGBTQI+ policies advanced in legislatures
across the country and the proliferation of extreme anti-LGBTQI+
rhetoric are fueling violence against LGBTQI+ people in the United
States, including the mass shooting that took place at the LGBTQI+
nightclub, Club Q, in Colorado Springs last month.
“Last month, a person with
an AR-15-style assault rifle entered Club Q—a nightclub that served as a
haven for LGBTQI+ people in the Colorado Springs community—and opened
fire on unsuspecting bar patrons and staff. The attacker’s depravity
robbed us of five innocent lives—Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance,
Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, and Derrick Rump,” said Chairwoman Maloney
in her opening statement.
“Let us honor them by recommitting to the bold action necessary to
ensure that every person in the United States can experience the freedom
to live authentically and safely—regardless of who they love or how
The Committee heard testimony from Michael Anderson and James Slaugh, survivors of the deadly Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Matthew Haynes, founding owner of Club Q. The Committee also heard testimony from Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign; Brandon Wolf, survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting; Olivia Hunt, Policy Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality; Jessie Pocock, CEO and Executive Director of Inside Out Youth Services; and Ilan Meyer, Distinguished Senior Scholar for Public Policy at the Williams Instititue
Survivors of anti-LGBTQI+
violence and expert witnesses emphasized that Republicans’ extremist
rhetoric and harmful policies have contributed to surging violence,
intimidation, and an unprecedented rise in hate crimes against the
Mr. Anderson testified:
“It was places like gay bars and clubs that helped me embrace who I was
and formed me into the man I am today … If you are fortunate enough to
intimately know LGBTQ people, you will find some of the kindest,
funniest, accepting, and most welcoming people. Those are the people
that found a safe place in Club Q and deserve to once again have that
safe space … I can still hear the rapid firing of bullets today. It’s a
sound I may never forget. It’s a sound I hope no one here or anywhere
else in this country has to hear.”
Mr. Haynes testified: “I
know that we, our Club Q community, are in the thoughts and prayers of
many of you. Unfortunately, these thoughts and prayers alone are not
saving lives. They are not changing the rhetoric of hate. None of us
ever imagined that our little bar in Colorado Springs would be the
target of the next hate crime, and I again repeat that we were targeted
for the next hate crime … When you take hate and access to military
style assault weapons, putting those together is total carnage.”
Mr. Slaugh testified: “ I
don’t want to imagine what may have happened if the shooter had not
been taken down that night. Five wonderful people were still murdered
and may we never forget their names. Ashley Paugh, Raymond Green Vance,
Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, and Kelly Loving. We miss each of
Responding to Rep.
Cicilline, Brandon Wolf testified: “Words have consequences...people
should be accountable for the things that come out of their mouths and
when you’re willing to traffic in cheap shots and bigotry against a
marginalized community that is already seeing hate against it on the
rise, already seeing violence rising across the country, when you’re
willing to traffic in those things to score political points, you have
to be accountable for what happens next. you have to hold yourself
accountable for the impacts of your words.
Witnesses detailed the
growing list of harmful anti-LGBTQI+ policies championed by Republicans
at every level of government and the ways in which they are undermining
the ability of LGBTQI+ people to live authentically and without fear.
In response to a
question from Rep. Bush about the proliferation of Republican bills
targeting LGBTQI+ people, Ms. Robinson stated: “It’s a crisis that we
are experiencing. We are trying to be able to live freely, safely, and
wholly as our true selves in every aspect of life. And what we see is
continued legislative attacks paired with extremist rhetoric. And when
some of these bills are moving forward whether or not they are enacted,
they have a devastating impact on our community.”
Responding to a question
from Chairwoman Maloney about the threat of a federal “Don’t Say Gay”
law, Ms. Robinson testified: “When we allow these pieces of legislation
to move forward, that erase our communities, that dehumanize us, what
it does is create a dangerous environment that does support and feed
these seeds of hatred that exist in our world. It’s not only dangerous,
it’s violent to our people.”
Brandon Wolf explained
the impact of Florida’s law limiting discussion of sexual orientation or
gender identity in schools: “We’ve seen books being banned with LGBTQ
characters across the state. We’ve seen teachers being told to hide
their family photos in their desks. We've seen school districts like
Miami Dade County refusing to recognize LGBTQ history month for
instance, saying that it might violate the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans”
law. Those are just some of the impacts. They’re weighing most heavily
on LGBTQ families who fought really hard to see their loved ones
recognized and respected. It's weighing on teachers who are fleeing the
profession, we have over 9,000 teacher vacancies in Florida in part
because they’ve been undergoing character assassination over the last
couple of years. And finally it’s weighing most heavily on LGBTQ young
people. The Trevor Project tells us that almost two thirds of trans
young people are experiencing poorer mental health outcomes because of
policies like House Bill 1557 in Florida. So in short, the debate over
the humanity of LGBTQ people is making life harder and less safe for
people, especially in the state of Florida.”
In response to a
question from Rep. Raskin on how extreme Republican laws affect the
mental health and physical safety of LGBTQI+ youth, Ms. Hunt testified:
“When children are told that they’re not part of society, it teaches
them that they don’t belong, that they are lesser-than, and that they
are not as worthy as their classmates and as their peers. And that’s
not the message that we should ever be teaching to young children
anywhere in this country.”
Witnesses and Democratic
Members emphasized the need to take bold action to push back against
extreme anti-LGBTQI+ policies and advance the health, safety, and rights
of LGBTQI+ people
Responding to a question
from Congresswoman Norton on the importance of the Equality Act, Mr.
Wolf testified: “It’s important because we are not afforded the same
nondiscrimination protections as other people. I say this as a person in
the state of Florida. One of the things we’ve worked on with Equality
Florida for years is implementing comprehensive nondiscrimination
protections for LGBTQ people in our state, so what does that mean? It
means protecting people from being denied housing because we have a
boyfriend, not a girlfriend. It protects LGBTQ people from being fired
because we have a picture of our spouse on the desk.”
questioning from Rep. Raskin, Ms. Pocock explained: “We know that when
you build an inclusive classroom you have young folks who are more
engaged, who are more likely to show up in school, and so the best thing
that we can do is prevent negative outcomes by creating an inclusive
classroom, an inclusive church, an inclusive home. That is hands-down,
the research shows, the very best thing we can do for young people.”
We may return to the topic tomorrow. I've got enough my notes to do so and it was an important hearing.
A coalition of anti-war groups and rights
organisations have signed a letter urging congressional leadership to
put forth a measure to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of
Military Force (AUMF) for Iraq.
The letter, sent to senators Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, and
Patrick Leahy, as well as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy,
among others, urged the lawmakers to take action on what it referred to
as a "long overdue repeal".
As of Wednesday, 37 organisations had signed the letter.
"Repealing this outdated and unnecessary law would constitute a basic
act of constitutional hygiene while also ensuring that the 2002 Iraq
AUMF cannot be misused to breathe new life into an unforeseen national
security crisis, driven by an unchecked president," the letter said.
"This scenario has already played out once, in early 2020; there is
nothing to prevent it playing out again, until Congress takes the 2002
Iraq AUMF off the books."
And we'll note CENTCOM issued the following:
Dec. 14, 2022
Release Number 20221214-10
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BAGHDAD – On Dec. 13, Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, CENTCOM
commander, visited Baghdad, where he met with Iraqi Prime Minister Shia’
Al-Sudani, Minister of Defense Thabet Mohammed Saeed, Chief of Defense
Lieutenant Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, and commander of Joint
Operations Command for Iraq Lieutenant Gen. Qais Al-Muhammadawi
The leaders discussed the current security situation in the region,
as well as opportunities to strengthen cooperation and coordination.
They spoke of progress in the development of the capabilities of the
Iraqi Security Forces. They also discussed ongoing operations to ensure
the enduring defeat of ISIS.
Qais provided Kurilla with a tour of the Joint Command Center as well
as a review of the Iraq command’s joint targeting process. He also
recognized U.S. Soldiers assigned to Operation Inherent Resolve for
their work alongside Iraqi forces.
These engagements strengthen bilateral relations between the U.S. and
Iraq and reaffirm CENTCOM’s commitment to the security and stability of
the Middle East.