Two horrible things happened to the gay conservative group GOProud this week: first, they pledged to meet with GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and not mention her or her husband’s anti-gay past—something that CNN anchor Ali Velshi slammed GOProud’s Chris Barron for.
Second, the organization’s golden-haired boy, Jimmy LaSalvia, got attacked when some teenager punched him in his chest, knocked him off of his bike, and proceeded to call him a “fucking faggot.” LaSalvia says he scared off the teen and his friends when he reached for his backpack and one asked, “You think he has a gun?”
We’re relieved that Mr. LaSalvia is OK. But he’s now using the attack to promote gun rights and to talk about how hate crimes do nothing to prevent anti-gay crime. This would all be typical GOProud behavior except for this one detail—LaSalvia waited three days to file a police report.
According to the Washington Blade, LaSalvia initially called a police non-emergency number the night of the attack but “he didn’t feel it necessary to take up police time for what was no longer an emergency.” So the next morning he “went to the headquarters office of the police Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit” but no one answered the door. Then he called the GLLU’s pager number, but no one responded there either.
In the end, it took LaSalvia three days to file a police report when he could have just called 911 the night of the assault and handled it then. The police are currently investigating the attack as a hate crime, but LaSalvia has used the incident to make rounds on the press circuit, asking, “Why did we spend so much political capital for the federal hate-crimes law when …it still does nothing to prevent hate crimes?” LaSalvia even refuses to call what happened to him a hate crime—he calls it a “bias crime.”
A “bias crime” differs from a hate crime in that a bias crime helps GOProud cover its ass for opposing hate-crime legislation. Don’t you just love semantics?
Of course, it’s unfair to judge the efficacy of the 2009 Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act just two years after its passage. To work as a deterrent, it needs a few years to pervade the public consciousness—and the minds of potential bashers.
LaSalvia knows full well that the 2009 law also expanded the definition of a hate crime to include attacks on the disabled, transgender, and all other queer identified people. In fact, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) just released a report saying that violent crimes against LGBTQ and HIV+ people increased by 13 percent since 2008, which means our communities need more protection, not less. Hmm, maybe LaSalvia and Barron should reconsider making nice with the Bachmanns and their ilk, who help create an atmosphere where bashing a queer is acceptable.
It seems the only thing LaSalvia learned from his attack is that he should own a gun. In an Advocate op-ed he writes:
When I got home, I began to reflect on what had happened, and more disturbingly what could have happened. I am in contact with the LGBT unit of the police department to file a report. But I’ve thought a lot about the turning point of the situation — the fact that one of them thought that I might have a gun. None of them said, “There’s a law against antigay hate crimes!” That wasn’t the deterrent. It was the possibility that I might have had a gun that saved my life Friday night.
I have been an advocate for concealed carry laws and Second Amendment rights for a long time, but I just haven’t felt compelled to own a gun myself. I grew up in a family of hunters, but I haven’t gone hunting in years. And until now, I have always felt safe in Washington. After all, D.C. is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. I never thought I would be a victim of bias crime here.
Now I know I should own a gun. This realization will cause me to redouble my efforts to advocate for state concealed carry laws and for federal concealed carry reciprocity legislation so that permits are recognized across state lines. I hope more gay and lesbian Americans will join me in this effort to allow everyone to lawfully defend themselves against violent crime.
Why is LaSalvia heading up GOProud (a group that’s has said it isn’t interested in “gay issues”) and not a new gay branch of the National Rifle Association? The old members of the now defunct Pink Pistols and Bash Back! would surely join him in his quest to gun down all the bashers.
Then again, maybe LaSalvia has a point—maybe we should respond to those who would inflict harm on gays with firearms. So can we assume he’ll be be packing heat at his meeting with Michele Bachmann?