August 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm EDT | by Kevin Naff
Responding to Family Research Council shooting

The shooting Wednesday at the Family Research Council headquarters in Washington serves as yet another painful reminder that hate speech coupled with America’s permissive gun culture equals tragedy.

Reports have emerged that the suspect worked for the DC Center for the LGBT Community. It’s a shocking turn of events, given that everyone I’ve encountered at the Center has been caring and devoted to helping others. The Blade shared office space with the Center for a period in 2010 and I had a close-up look at the important, grassroots work that happens there each day. David Mariner and his team of interns and volunteers have done wonders with limited resources, helping the less fortunate in Washington’s LGBT community.

We must all speak out against this senseless act of violence and not allow the voices of a few right-wing extremists to besmirch and undermine the good work of the Center. The Family Research Council was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, not because of its opposition to same-sex marriage, but because of its twisted work to equate homosexuality with pedophilia.

This isolated incident is not indicative of the mindset of the LGBT community. We have been the victims of violence long enough to know that violence is not the way to resolve political disagreements. Last week, two gay men were shot in the center of Baltimore’s gay neighborhood; one died and the other remains in a coma. And just yesterday, the Blade received a flurry of threatening calls and e-mails after our decision to publish the database of Maryland signatories to a petition calling for nixing the state’s marriage equality law. The disturbing threats came shortly after I appeared on a local Fox News affiliate on Tuesday defending the decision to publish the list online.

We still don’t know for sure the gunman’s motive, but there are violent and disturbed people on all sides of the political spectrum. In the wake of recent shootings in Aurora and suburban Milwaukee and Texas and now D.C., we should all rethink the rhetoric we use while engaging in public discourse. Those exchanges — from anti-Obama protesters bringing guns to rallies to gay rights supporters vandalizing Chick-fil-A restaurants — have become so heated, angry and divisive that it’s creating an increasingly dangerous environment for us all.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

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