Steve Scalise’s life was saved by a lesbian police officer earlier this year, but that hasn’t changed the House Republican’s virulent opposition to LGBTQ rights.
It was announced on Wednesday that the 51-year-old conservative would be appearing at next week’s Values Voter Summit. The yearly gathering, which takes place in Washington D.C., is hosted by the Family Research Council, one of the nation’s most virulently anti-LGBTQ hate groups. The organization endorsed a now-defunct Uganda bill calling for the death penalty for queer and trans people, before walking back that support.
FRC president Tony Perkins supports conversion therapy, opposes same-sex couples raising children, believes that gay men are pedophiles, and has compared LGBTQ rights advocates to terrorists. Perkins, the architect behind Trump’s ban on trans military service, has called queer people “vile,” “hateful,” and “intolerant.”
The news was a disappointment to those who felt Scalise, who has spent his career opposing equality, might have a change of heart following the June 14 shooting in Virginia.
The GOP majority whip was badly injured when James T. Hodgkinson opened fire on a practice for the yearly Congressional Baseball Game. Scalise, who was shot several times, might have died if not for the intervention of Capitol Police Officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey. Griner and Bailey were assigned to the Congressman’s security detail that day.
Despite being shot herself, Griner helped take down Hodgkinson. Her wife, Tiffany Dyar, would stand by Griner’s side in the hospital. The two were married in 2015.
But Scalise’s platform appears to have changed little after Griner’s heroic intervention, which put her own life on the line. Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, the Louisiana Republican co-sponsored a Constitutional amendment to limit the definition of marriage to one man and one woman. That legislation, if enacted into law, would have made Griner’s wedding impossible.
As a member of Congress, Scalise has also voted in favor of protecting religious opposition to marriage equality as “free speech.” The House representative also opposes adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the purview of hate crime laws.
Nearly losing his life in a mass shooting doesn’t seem to have shifted the politician’s opinion on gun control either.
In one of his first interviews since returning to Congress, Scalise told Fox News that the incident only “fortified” his opposition to sensible gun legislation. He claimed that calls for reform following the murder of 59 people at a concert music festival in Las Vegas were “wrong.”
“First of all, you’ve got to recognize that when there’s a tragedy like this, the first thing we should be thinking about is praying for the people who were injured and doing whatever we can to help them, to help law enforcement,” he told the conservative news network on Tuesday. “We shouldn’t first be thinking of promoting our political agenda. I think we see too much of that, where people say, ‘Oh ok, now you have to have gun control.’”
More than 500 people were injured in the Oct. 1 attack, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.