One year after the deadly mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York, reintroduced a bill that seeks to combat the high rate of violence and suicide impacting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
During a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Maloney -- one of the few openly gay members of Congress -- reintroduced the LGBT PRIDE Act, or the LGBT Provide a Requirement to Improve Data Collection Efforts Act. The bill is focused on improving the data collection process regarding the sexual orientation and gender identity of victims who suffer violent deaths, including suicides. If passed, the LGBT PRIDE Act would authorize $25 million to fund the expansion of the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), a data collection system operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"This is a season for Pride and for determination, and part of being determined is being smart, and being smart means you need to have the facts and the data, and that’s all we’re doing today," Maloney said during the press conference. "We’re saying we want to know nationally the statistics of violent crimes when it’s related to sexual orientation and gender identity."
Currently, the NVDRS collects information from 42 states, but the data collection is limited and unsystematic when it comes victims' sexual orientation and gender identity. The Pulse shooting, for example, was not accounted for, as Florida does not provide NVDRS with any information. Nevada and Colorado are the only two states with policies for data collection on anti-LGBTQ murders and LGBTQ suicides.
NBC Out reached out to the CDC, which operates the NVDRS, but a spokesperson said the federal agency is unable to discuss pending legislation.
"The LGBTQ community, particularly transgender women of color, continue to face an epidemic of violence," David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said in a statement. "In order to help understand the full scope of this violence, it is critically important we ensure victims' sexual orientation and gender identity are included as part of the information gathered in the National Violent Death Reporting System."
Due to the lack of data available, LGBTQ organizations have taken the charge in tracking anti-LGBTQ violent crimes. The Anti-Violence Project (AVP) has been reporting crimes against the LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities since 1998. However, its data relies on limited community reports that do not span across all states.
"It’s often said that 'If you’re not counted, then you don’t count,'" Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, said. "This legislation will ensure that LGBTQ lives are finally counted, and that we get the data to help save those lives."
The LGBT PRIDE Act was first introduced in 2016 but stalled in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Maloney anticipates an uphill battle in Congress this time around, too.
"This is a longterm effort. A lot of us are fighting for stuff that is going to require years to get done," Maloney said. "We have no illusions about the uphill fight we’re facing in a Republican-controlled Congress."