June 29, 2016 at 4:47 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
New PAC debuts amid energized LGBT gun control efforts
Jason Lindsay, gay news, Washington Blade

Jason Lindsay is executive director of the PRIDE Fund against Gun Violence. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In the aftermath of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando leaving 49 people dead and 53 wounded, new efforts are emerging in the LGBT community to take on gun control in remembrance of the LGBT victims of the attack.

One major development is the establishment of a new political action committee called the PRIDE Fund to End Gun Violence, which seeks to focus efforts from the LGBT community to elect to Congress lawmakers who will support meaningful gun safety legislation and defeat those who won’t.

Leading the effort as executive director is Jason Lindsay, a D.C.-based gay political operative who over the course of 12 years has worked in congressional offices, on national campaigns and served as a congressional relations officer with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Lindsay served for 14 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and was deployed to Iraq in 2003.

In an interview with the Washington Blade, Lindsay said the impetus for founding the PRIDE Fund to End Gun Violence was the desire of the LGBT community to take on gun control after the Orlando shooting.

“In the aftermath of Orlando, looking at so much of the energy in the community around the issue of gun control, most of the discussion was on protests and participating in calling members of Congress, which we know hasn’t worked,” Lindsay said. “Members of Congress continue to ignore the will of the American people on this issue, so the driving force was really to shape a political action committee where we could have the most direct impact on the electoral policy of gun control.”

In the first four days after its creation, Lindsay said the PRIDE Fund to End Gun Violence has raised about $10,000, but the goal is to raise $500,000 before November. Lindsay said he hasn’t yet engaged with LGBT rights groups, but has already started dialogue with gun control organizations, like the Newtown Action Alliance.

“The immediate goal is we’re quickly ramping up the organization,” Lindsay said. “We’ve accomplished an incredible amount in the last 10 days, but the first thing is we need volunteers and we need people to get involved, so we can quickly grow the movement.”

The short-term goal for the committee, Lindsay said, is expanding the website and growing other technology platforms in addition to establishing a hub for volunteer operations enabling further growth and fundraising. On Thursday, the committee is set to hold a volunteer meeting at 7 p.m. at a yet-to-be determined location in the Dupont Circle area.

But the long-term vision, Lindsay said, is to enact gun reform legislation at the federal level, such as an expansion of background checks, “no fly, no buy” legislation, restrictions on magazines and a ban on assault rifles. A yet-to-be-formed policy committee, he said, will work directly on those issues and determine specific bills to support.

The policy committee, Lindsay said, will also decide over the next couple of weeks criteria for endorsing candidates running for Congress, but generally that will consist of support for LGBT rights and gun reform legislation.

“At this point, we’re organized at the federal level,” Lindsay said. “That’s the way we’re registered with the Federal Election Commission. We have not yet had the opportunity of state races, but that’s something our policy committee is going to be looking at.”

Lindsay said the committee also intends to endorse presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, but hasn’t yet set a time for when that will happen.

Mark Glaze, a gay D.C. political operative who’s worked on both LGBT rights and gun control efforts, said the PRIDE Fund to End Gun Violence “appears to be taking off” at a crucial time.

“If I’ve had a better idea all year, I can’t remember what it is,” Glaze said. “I think when the community puts its brains, its determination and its money to work, it generally achieves what it sets out to do, and adding their juice to the fight against gun violence is exactly what we’ve needed for a while.”

The establishment of the PRIDE Fund to End Gun Violence is but one effort among LGBT advocates to join the fight for gun control in the Orlando shooting, which LGBT advocates and President Obama have called a hate crime and terrorist attack against the LGBT community.

On Tuesday evening, the New York-based LGBT grassroots group Queer Nation held a two-hour meeting at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Manhattan, where 150 attendees made and discussed proposals for action.

“In the wake of Orlando, we’re not going to be silent,” said Alan Klein, a spokesperson for Queer Nation. “The 49 demand that we turn the anger and sorrow that the LGBT community felt into action, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

According to Queer Nation, activists decided to organize a large action in New York City during the Republican National Convention to target presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for his anti-LGBT and pro-gun positions, but between now and then additional actions will take place.

Another newly formed LGBT activist group, Gays Against Guns, turned out up to 750 on Sunday at the New York City Pride parade, where activists affiliated with the group chanted “Stop the NRA!” and staged die-ins along the route similar to demonstrations conducted by HIV/AIDS activists in the 1980s.

According to Gays Against Guns, the activists who engaged in the “die-ins” repeated in unison, “How many more have to die?” and were trailed by 49 silent marchers in white veils who each carried a placard with the name and photo of someone who died in Orlando.

Gun violence has become a public health crisis in the U.S.,” said Gays Against Guns co-founder John Grauwiler. “The NRA and their enablers in D.C. have blood on their hands and make us gag in disgust. We intend to have great fun in the weeks and months ahead haunting their collective bad conscience until they do the right thing or get kicked out of power. They’ve hit us too close to home this time.”

Within a week of the Orlando shooting, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, approved a resolution affirming the organization would support gun safety reform measures.

And yet, another faction within the LGBT community is urging LGBT people to arm themselves in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting. One such faction is Pink Pistols, which, under the slogan, “Pick On Someone Your Own Caliber,” urges gay people in the 31 states that allow concealed carry permits to arm themselves and learn to use firearms safely.

Lindsay cautioned against calling on LGBT people to arm themselves in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre, pointing out even the National Rifle Association has said firearms don’t belong in a place where people are drinking, such as the Pulse nightclub where the shooting took place.

“I would say that more guns doesn’t equate to less violence and being protected,” Lindsay said. “I think taking assault-style weapons off the street and working to improve our gun control policy is important, but adding more into the mix just isn’t the solution.”

Amid other gun efforts control efforts in the LGBT community and elsewhere, Lindsay said the establishment of the PRIDE Fund to End Gun Violence is important because it will provide additional focus.

“Our motivation was we thought it was important to have a unique and dedicated LGBTQ voice that was solely focused on the issue of gun reform and protections,” Lindsay said. “And we have a strong desire to work collaboratively with all other groups involved — both gay and straight — to really create change in this country.”

If efforts of gun control advocates to enact legislation are successful, Lindsay said it would be “a very positive step toward making the country safer” in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting.

“I think that it’s important for there to be a comprehensive plan to end gun violence in America to really counter the increase in the lethality of these attacks,” Lindsay said. “There is the discussion of terrorism, we need to focus on mental health…and those things are incredibly important, but at the same time, limiting the access to such powerful assault-style weapons is one of the first steps I think we can take.”

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

7 Comments
  • Oh goodie, yet another group with it’s handout trying to pick your pocket!

  • Just an idea I wish to share. The argument against centers around the second amendment of our Constitution, our citizen’s right to bear arms. I suggest a federal law that outlaw the sale and manufacturing of ammunition magazines
    that exceed five rounds. Coupled with a two year Federal buy back plan for those magazines exceeding the limit currently in circulation.

    This would limit the deadliest assault weapon to be no more dangerous than any hunting rifle. This action does not infringe on anyone’s second amendment rights since it doesn’t involve any limitations of fire arms. Now if you get push
    back, you know owning these weapons have little to do with home protection.

  • Just an idea I wish to share. The argument against gun control centers around the second amendment of our Constitution, our citizen’s right to bear arms. I suggest a Federal law that outlaw the sale and manufacturing of ammunition
    magazines that exceed five rounds. Coupled with a two year Federal buy back plan for those magazines exceeding the limit currently in circulation. Followed by a class D felony charge for any one with a magazine exceed five rounds after the two buy back period.

    This would limit the deadliest assault weapon to be no more dangerous than any hunting rifle. This action does not infringe on anyone’s second amendment rights since it doesn’t involve any limitations of fire arms. Now if you get push
    back, you know owning these weapons have little to do with home protection.

    • Assault weapon, is that a baseball bat? Or a hammer? Or an automobile? All have been used to attack and kill people.

      Ask the Korean storeowners who defended their property during the Los Angeles riots about what’s needed and what’s not. When an irrational mob intends to do you and yours imminent harm, do you really want to be limited to five rounds of ammunition? Of course, the only difference between a five-round magazine and a ten-round magazine, or a ten-round magazine and a twenty-round magazine, is about two seconds, may less. That’s all the time that’s needed to drop the empty magazine and put in a loaded magazine.

    • Washgint DC has 0.3% legal gun owners and 26% of the entire DC population are illegal gun owners. Looking at the illegal gun possession arrest stats by race in DC, about 80% of African American males in DC are illegal gun owners.
      If a magazine is a class D, a illegal gun is going to have to be a C — are you going to jail over 3/4 of DC’s African Americans men??
      There about 2 billion gun magazines over 5 rounds. and how do you “buy back” ?
      No wonder the NRA has 58% approvals in the latest gallup.

  • So their plan after being unarmed victims of a madman is to make as many people as possible just like them, UNARMED? How has that been working so far?

  • OK gays, tell me something. When our 50 States had sodomy laws, did it stop you from having a good time? No, you broke the law, and that’s OK because it was a stupid law.

    When the war on drugs said you couldn’t partake with crystal k, meth, cocaine, 420, etc, did it stop you? No.

    When San Francisco closed the bathhouses, did it stop the orgies? No, it did not.

    Gun control is also stupid. Gun control doesn’t stop the bad guys. The average gay basher doesn’t even use guns, he uses his hands, feet, or a baseball bat, or maybe he throws you off a bridge. So how will gun control stop them? It won’t.

    Guns are your best friends, a gun in your hand is POWER against your enemy. It’s a fighting chance. What happened at Pulse was the result of gun control, Florida law makes it illegal to carry guns in bars. Did the bad Muslim care about the law? No, he did not. Did the cops kill him? Sure, 5 hours later. Why is it that we can have designated drivers but not designated shooters?

    Gun control is stupid, just because it makes you feel safe doesn’t mean you’re safe. So embrace the 2nd Amendment, lock and load!

© Copyright Brown, Naff, Pitts Omnimedia, Inc. 2019. All rights reserved.