May 22, 2018 -- Washington, DC --  Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC – America’s only national LGBTQ political organization focused solely on gun violence prevention – today announced its endorsement of four gun reform and LGBTQ champions in Maryland’s state elections: Richard Madaleno for governor, George Zokle in House District 20, Kevin Mack in House District 15, and Dana Beyer in Senate District 18. Pride Fund endorsed these candidates because they stand for the core principles of Pride Fund – advancing commonsense gun reform and LGBTQ equality.

“I am extremely pleased to receive the endorsement of the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. Whether it be voting to ban assault weapons or bump stocks, or taking the politics out of approving concealed carry permits, I have been a leader and strong advocate for policies that will stop gun violence,” said Richard Madaleno. “This past year I am especially proud of the legislation passed which would deny and remove firearms from those who have been convicted of domestic abuse or hate crimes. The LGBTQ+ community has been disproportionately impacted by these crimes: Marylanders will be that much safer now that these laws are passed,” said Madaleno.

"I am running for the Maryland House of Delegates to change the way government works in Annapolis to achieve Social Justice,” said George Zokle. “Social Justice includes responsible gun reform laws that remove firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers, require background checks for individuals seeking a firearm, analyze the effects of gun violence on society through various studies, and promote mental health awareness. Not only am I an advocate of gun reform laws, I am also a survivor of gun violence. If elected, I will help Maryland lead our nation in the quest to change the way gun violence is viewed in our state and across the country,” said Zokle.

“After the tragic shooting at the Pulse nightclub it became clear the LGBTQ community can’t sit on the sidelines in the absence of common sense laws to prevent gun violence,” said Kevin Mack. “That is why I proudly stand with the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence in their fight to disarm hate in all forms. As Delegate, I will champion sensible gun policy reforms that close loopholes that allow criminals to obtain deadly weapons at gun shows, through online sales, and other means of purchase in order to make America safer for all,” said Mack.

“For too long we have treated a distorted interpretation of the Second Amendment as sacrosanct, and allowed extremist gun owners (3% of whom own 50% of the weapons) to equate liberty with gun ownership,” said Dana Beyer. “It’s now the 21st century, and these gun hoarders and owners will never use their weapons to stop a tyrannical government - they are the core of our current tyrannical government. Their rhetoric, exemplified by the terrorist organization, the NRA, enables the mass shootings that stain the ground with the blood of innocent civilians, including children - again - in school in Texas this past Friday. This must stop - 97% of Americans support universal background checks. The only way this will happen is if we elect candidates who are willing to stand up, organize their constituents and colleagues, and finally force the issue in their legislatures,” said Beyer.

“If elected, Madaleno would be our nation’s first openly gay governor, an important step in the fight to increase LGBTQ representation on all fronts, especially in the state’s highest office,” said Jason Lindsay, Pride Fund Executive Director. “Current Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has long opposed gun safety measures, including an assault weapons ban that was passed by Democrats in 2013 following the Sandy Hook shooting, as well as a ban on bump stocks in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting. Hogan’s refusal to support gun safety legislation that the majority of Marylanders favor has earned him an “A-” rating from the NRA, along with $4,000 in blood money from the extremist organization. Pride Fund could not be more proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Madaleno, and we look forward to working together once he is elected to make Maryland a safer place to live everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Lindsay.  

Madaleno is a current Maryland State Senator, known for his ardent support of LGBTQ rights and for leading the country’s first successful passage of marriage equality by ballot in 2012. Madaleno has consistently supported life-saving legislation such as Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act of 2013, which banned assault weapons and limited the sale of large capacity magazines from 20 to 10 rounds for firearms. Madaleno’s steadfast leadership to pass commonsense gun reform while championing LGBTQ equality earned him Pride Fund’s endorsement.

“We support these four candidates because of their demonstrated commitment to support equality and safety for all, and for their commitment to acting on commonsense gun reforms,” said Jason Lindsay. “We need elected officials who will stand up for people – not for the profits of the corporate gun manufacturers.”

Pride Fund has thoroughly reviewed the platforms and records of these candidates to assess their commitment to protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community and keeping the American people safe from senseless gun violence. Madaleno, Zokle, Mack, and Beyer represent the kind of leaders we need – ones who won’t prioritize special interests over Americans’ civil rights and safety.