Rep. Scalise among victims in Va. shooting

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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The high-profile victim in a shooting Wednesday at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria has a long anti-LGBT history — and LGBT groups are among those condemning the violence against him.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was taking part in practice as a member of the Republican congressional baseball team when he was shot in the hip. He was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Scalise was in stable condition.

Others who were shot at the practice were Capitol Police officers. Although they were wounded, their injuries weren’t life threatening, according to the Associated Press. The shooter was killed by police.

A former chair of the conservative House Republican Study Committee, Scalise has built over the course his tenure in Congress since 2008 among the most anti-LGBT reputations of any lawmaker.

Earning a “0” on the Human Rights Campaign’s congressional scorecard, Scalise voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and hate crimes protection legislation. In the last Congress, Scalise was among the 130 co-sponsors of the First Amendment Defense Act, a federal “religious freedom” bill seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination.

As a member of House Republican leadership, he’s responsible for the lack of votes on pro-LGBT legislation on the House floor. When Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment upholding President Obama’s 2014 executive order against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination, Scalise was reportedly among House leaders who convinced seven Republicans to switch their votes to ensure the measure would fail.

When a federal judge upheld Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage as constitutional in 2014, Scalise hailed the decision during an appearance on the anti-LGBT Family Research Council’s radio program as “an important win for marriage.”

Scalise has also faced charges of racism that nearly derailed his election as House majority whip. The lawmaker once spoke at a meeting of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, founded by Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.

Despite Scalise’s history, LGBT groups and advocates were among those issuing statements condemning the violence against him.

Roddy Flynn, executive director of the LGBT Equality Caucus, said “our thoughts and prayers are with Whip Scalise and all of those injured in this senseless shooting.”

“The tradition of congressional baseball is a lighthearted custom that brings the parties together in friendship,” Flynn said. “For this gunman to target members of Congress and staff preparing for this charitable event is a particularly insidious attack on the very institution.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin also expressed solidarity with the victims in a statement.

“We stand in solidarity and unity with those injured in this horrific attack and hope for their speedy recovery,” Griffin said. “We condemn all forms of violence, and moments like these remind us of the need to work together in finding commonsense solutions to gun violence, hate-motivated violence, and terrorism. The swift response of the U.S. Capitol Police and first responders is testament to their selfless service to our nation.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement the shooting was a “despicable and cowardly attack” on members of Congress.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Whip Steve Scalise and the others wounded, Capitol Police and staff, and their families,” Pelosi added.

The suspected shooter in the incident was identified as Illinois resident James T. Hodgkinson. Capitol Hill forces shot him as he was firing on the grounds and he was taken to the hospital. In a statement at the White House after the shooting, President Trump broke the news Hodgkinson “has now died from his injuries.”

Jason Lindsay, executive director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, said in a statement the shooting is “another reminder that no one is safe when access to guns is so easy.”

“We’re heartbroken and horrified for those involved as well as the community as a whole,” Lindsay said. “And while details are still coming together and the motive of the shooter is unclear, this incident is yet another illustration of the need for common sense gun reforms. This shooting comes just two days after our nation reflected on the one year mark of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people, injured 53, and emotionally scarred countless others.”

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