Mourners at Club Q

Ren Kurgis, left, and Jessie Pacheco leave flowers at a memorial for the victims of a shooting at the LGBTQ+ nightclub Club Q on November 20, 2022 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo: Matthew Staver/The Washington Post)

House Dems to Examine Rise in Anti-LGBTQ+ Extremism in 'First of Its Kind' Hearing

"Republicans on my committee and across the country will be forced to face the real-life impact of their dangerous agenda," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

Survivors of last month's deadly shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, will be among those testifying this week when federal lawmakers hold a hearing on how a surge in bigoted legislation pushed by Republicans has been linked to an uptick in violent attacks on LGBTQ+ communities.

"The rise in anti-LGBTQI+ extremism and the despicable policies that Republicans at every level of government are advancing... are harming the LGBTQI+ community."

The U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), will convene the hearing on Wednesday morning, examining a number of Republican proposals as well as recent incidents of violence.

"From Colorado Springs to my own district in New York City, communities across the country are facing a terrifying rise of anti-LGBTQI+ violence and extremism," said Maloney in a statement. "Make no mistake, the rise in anti-LGBTQI+ extremism and the despicable policies that Republicans at every level of government are advancing to attack the health and safety of LGBTQI+ people are harming the LGBTQI+ community and contributing to tragedies like what we saw at Club Q."

The hearing comes less than a month after a shooter armed with an AR-15 style rifle entered Club Q and immediately began shooting, killing five people and injuring more than a dozen others.

Authorities have not yet publicly identified a motive, but the shooting has been investigated as a hate crime and the suspect has been charged with 305 criminal counts, including first-degree murder and bias-motivated crimes.

The committee will hear testimony from Michael Anderson, a bartender at Club Q, and James Slaught, a patron, as well as co-owner Michael Haynes.

"These attacks like the one at Club Q are designed to scare us from living authentically and honestly," Anderson told NBC News. "But to our community and to the world, just know this: We are not afraid, we are empowered, we are strong, and we are proud. Love will win."

The shooting intensified condemnation of Republicans who have pushed anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and legislation, including Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.). The congresswoman offered "prayers" to the victims, survivors, and their families after the attack, leading progressives to point out that she has aggressively promoted the loosening of gun control laws and has accused LGBTQ+ teachers, transgender people, and drag performers of "grooming" children throughout her political career.

One proponent of Boebert's "grooming" narrative, Gays Against Groomers founder Jaimee Mitchell, toldFOX News host Tucker Carlson that shootings like the one at Club Q will not "stop until we end this evil agenda that is attacking children."

Republican state lawmakers last year introduced more than 340 pieces of legislation seeking to limit LGBTQ+ people's rights, including proposals to force transgender or gender non-conforming students to use bathrooms and join sports teams that correspond with their sex assigned at birth instead of their gender, to bar doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to young transgender people, and to ban classroom discussions related to gender identity and sexual orientation in public schools.

Since Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed his state's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill into law earlier this year, social media posts accusing LGBTQ+ people of being "groomers" went up by more than 400%, the House Oversight Committee reported.

At this week's hearing, Maloney said, "Republicans on my committee and across the country will be forced to face the real-life impact of their dangerous agenda. I hope LGBTQI+ individuals across the country will see that Democrats in Congress are fighting for them and will continue to push for policies that protect and expand their ability to live authentically and safely."

The Hill reported that the hearing will be the "first of its kind." While Congress held hearings decades ago in support of anti-LGBTQ+ measures, said author and researcher Jason Colavito, Maloney's will be the first to call for protections for these communities.

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