June 23, 2016 at 2:21 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
After 25 hours, Dems end House sit-in for gay safety legislation

John Lewis, United States House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Georgia, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) ended the House Democrats’ sit-in for gun safety legislation. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

After staging a sit-in on the House floor for 25 hours in favor of gun safety measures, House Democrats led by civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) ended their action Thursday afternoon.

Speaking to reporters outside the U.S. Capitol, Lewis said House Democrats would continue their efforts on July 5 when the House is back in session.

“We’re going to continue on July 5, we’re going to continue to push, to pull, to stand up and, if necessary, to sit-down,” Lewis said to applause.

Wearing rainbow-colored pins in remembrance of the LGBT victims of the Orlando shooting, Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor starting late Wednesday morning to call for a vote on gun safety legislation expanding background checks and prohibiting terrorist suspects on the “no fly” from purchasing a firearm. According to CBS News, the action ended at 1:04 pm.

At his weekly news conference on Thursday, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) slammed Democrats for their sit-in, accusing Democrats of exploiting the Orlando shooting as a means to raise funds as he held up emails from their offices seeking contributions.

“If this is not a political stunt, then why are they trying to raise money off of this, off of a tragedy?” Ryan said. “What they’re calling for failed in a committee of the House. The reason I call this a stunt is because they know this isn’t going anywhere. It already failed in the Senate. They may not like this, but this bill couldn’t even get 50 votes in the United States Senate, let alone 60.”

Under questioning from NBC News, Ryan said he’s “very worried” about the precedent House Democrats are setting with their sit-in.

“I have an obligation as the speaker of the House to protect this institution,” Ryan said. “We are the ballast of the world of free people. And so, when we see our democracy descend in this way, it is not a good sign.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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