It’s an all-too-familiar routine for Americans: mass shooting, dramatic calls for change, inaction. It happened when 20 schoolchildren were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. When a dozen people were killed in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. When almost three dozen were slaughtered at Virginia Tech.
But this time, things might be different. Not because of the record number of people killed in Orlando or because this heinous act was a terrorist attack, a hate crime and a mass shooting. It’s because the victims were part of a social movement with infrastructure and political know-how largely unmatched within the gun-control movement. It’s because the attack targeted gays — and their community is organized.
Today’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer coalition is made up of powerful groups able to mobilize at a moment’s notice, including the NOH8 Campaign, the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG. This robust and multifaceted apparatus is one of the most effective political movements in recent American history. It has faced down obscene public indifference to gay lives (peaking with the AIDS epidemic), violence against LGBTQ people (who suffer more hate crimes than any other protected group), laws that criminalized gay sex (Bowers v. Hardwick was overturned only in 2003) and widespread intolerance.