Friday, September 22, 2023

A shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado leaves 5 dead and 18 injured

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Editor’s Note: This is a breaking news story and will be updated with new information throughout the day.

A gunman entered an LGBTQ nightclub and opened fire, killing five people and injuring 18 others on Saturday night in Colorado. The shooter is in police custody.

While the shooter’s motive is still unknown, the attack on Club Q in Colorado Springs coincides with the increase in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, legislation, harassment and violence in the US.

At least two clubbers confronted the attacker, who was armed with a long rifle and at least one other firearm, and managed to subdue him, police said. Chief of the Colorado Springs Police Department, Adrian Vasquez. “We owe them a debt of gratitude,” he said.

The victims have not yet been publicly identified and the condition of the 18 injured is unknown. The attacker is being treated for injuries, though Lieutenant Pamela Castro of the Colorado Springs Police Department said she didn’t know what those injuries were.

Police received a call at 11:57 p.m described the shooting and, according to Castro, were on the scene within five minutes. Attorney General Merrick Garland has been briefed on the incident, the Associated Pressand the The FBI has offered help to the Colorado Springs Police Department in the investigation.

“Club Q has been devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the nightclub wrote in a Facebook post. “Our prayers [sic] and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. We thank the prompt responses from heroic customers who subdued the shooter and put an end to this hate attack.”

Authorities don’t qualified the attack as a hate crime; such charges depend on the motive of the attacker and whether the crime was committed “on the basis of the victim’s perceived or actual race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity or disability”, at least on the basis of the national level. Colorado law stipulates that bias need only be part of the attacker’s motivation and specific depicts sexuality, but not gender identity as one of the classifications for a hate crime.

Club Q’s Facebook page advertised a punk drag show and Saturday night birthday party; drag queen Del Lusional, who performed that night, described the experience on Twitter: “I never thought this would happen to me and my bar. I don’t know what to do with myself. I can’t stop hearing the shots.”

The shooter committed the attack on the eve of Trans Remembrance Dayan annual celebration commemorating the transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people who have died in anti-trans attacks.

The attack echoes recent incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence

It also follows several attacks on LGBTQ persons and institutions in recent years, including a spate of attacks in the summer of 2021 against queer and non-binary people near the Happyfun Hideaway bar in Brooklyn, New York. In April, a man set fire to another gay bar in Bushwick, Rash.

The Colorado Springs attack has echoes of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, where a gunman pledging allegiance to the Islamic State entered the club during Latino Night and went on a rampage that killed 49 people and injured 53. The 2016 shooting is the deadliest single attack on LGBTQ people in US history. At the time, it was also the country’s deadliest mass shooting.

Colorado in particular has seen several mass shootings over the past 25 years, beginning with the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. On a national level, lawmakers have failed to contain the national epidemic of mass shootings, despite their sustained intensity and lethality. Mass shootings at schools including Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida, and most recently Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas have claimed the lives of dozens of teens and young children.

In the current political climate, LGBTQ rights are at stake

Republicans have ramped up anti-LGBTQ policies and rhetoric in recent years, particularly against transgender people. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation earlier this year prevent public school teachers from discussing gender identity or sexuality with students from kindergarten through third grade, “or in a manner inappropriate for the age or development of students consistent with state standards,” the law reads .

DeSantis has also approved a measure prohibiting Medicaid patients from using the service to access gender-affirming health care. That legislation will affect more than 9,000 trans-Florians who use Medicaid as their primary health insurance plan, according to a statement from the Campaign for human rights.

In Texas, Republican legislators have implemented policies aimed at trans children, particularly those parents who provide gender-affirming care to their children. In March, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a directive to state health authorities consider gender-affirming care to be “child abuse” and require teachers and caregivers to report parents seeking such care to the Department of Family and Protective Services. This policy is unlike medical science.

More generally, Republican legislatures in several states have limited or attempted to limit the rights of LGBTQ people, which Democrats and LGBTQ advocates say portends a possible rollback on a national level.

To that end, the Senate, which includes 12 Republicans, voted to advance the Respect for Marriage Act, which would protect the marriages of LGBTQ couples and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as marriage between a man and a woman. The amended bill will return to the House for a vote before final approval by the Senate, likely after the Thanksgiving holiday.


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