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Anti-gay church to target D.C. Pride parade

Westboro also going after Wilson High School

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Westboro Baptist Church, gay news, Washington Blade
Westboro Baptist Church, gay news, Washington Blade

Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket next week’s Capital Pride Parade. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Members of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., which coined the slogan “God Hates Fags,” plans to set up a picket line at D.C.’s Capital Pride Parade on June 7 and plans to show up at Woodrow Wilson High School in Northwest Washington on June 9 to protest a Pride Day celebration at the school, according to a statement issued by the church.

The protests against the Capital Pride Parade and Wilson High School are among a dozen D.C.-area anti-gay protests planned by Westboro Church that include picketing outside the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, the White House, the Pentagon and several churches.

“Westboro Baptist Church members will once again picket your fag pride parade to remind you that God Still Hates Fags, Fags Doom Nations and America is Doomed,” the church says in a statement posted on its website.

“God does not change no matter how much you parade your filth down main street demanding that your neighbors applaud you,” the statement says.

In a separate statement announcing its protest at Wilson High School, the church referred to the school’s students as “brats” and said they should answer the question, “Why did God destroy Sodom?” rather than organize an LGBT Pride event.

Gay D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate David Catania (D-At-Large), who chairs the Council’s Education Committee, released a statement on Wednesday expressing solidarity with Wilson High’s decision to hold a Pride event on June 4, five days before the Westboro protest is scheduled to take place.

“Today, I urge all District residents to stand with the students at Woodrow Wilson High School in support of tolerance and respect,” Catania said.

“Earlier this morning I spoke with Principal Pete Cahall and the faculty and students at Woodrow Wilson High School who are organizing the school’s Pride Day celebration to thank them for standing up for the values of acceptance and equality that define the District of Columbia,” he said.

In a separate statement, Capital Pride official Bernie Delia said he expects the Westboro Church protesters will be overshadowed by the large number of parade participants.

“With respect to the Capital Pride Parade, we will have more than 100,000 people from all corners of our community – LGBT and our straight allies – come together in a wonderful celebration of our diversity, acceptance, equality and freedom,” said Delia. “On the other hand, Westboro Baptist Church represents about 15 to 20 publicity-seeking malcontents who continue – unsuccessfully – to try to push their cramped view of the Bible onto the rest of us,” he said. “A majority of the country appears to agree that we are on the right side of history.”

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39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Stanley James

    May 29, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    REad about these nutcases in a book free on the web – addicted to hate

    much of it written and verified by Nate Phelps, one of two sons of dead fred phelps, both of whom left the nuthouse the day they were 18

    http://www.blank.org/addict/

  2. Terri Cunningham

    May 30, 2014 at 11:41 am

    God hates the sin, not the sinner. He sent his son to died for all of us. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). This is GREAT because it gives each individual an opportunity to accept Him as their personal Savior and to have everlasting life. If this is not done, that individual will perish.

  3. Ashley Marie Stevens

    May 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    These people (Westboro) seriously need to get a life and stop worrying what goes on in other people's bedrooms and personal lives and start worrying about their own. Question, since the "Church" worries so much about sex after marriage, Were Adam and Eve ever married?

  4. Dennis Fowler

    May 30, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Terri. Show me your credentials that allows you to be the spokesperson for a Omniscient, Omnipotent deity. Why does he need you to deliver such a basic message. If you can intelligently answer these simple questions, I will permit you to speak.

  5. Jennifer Braly

    May 30, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    These people at Westboro need to be educated. God did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah… They were destroyed by an asteroid. Research it people!!! http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/04/01/researchers-asteroid-destroyed-sodom-and-gomorrah/ Also a small Metorite hit Russia on February 15 2013. http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/02/15/injuries-reported-after-meteorite-falls-in-russia-ural-mountains/… We don't say God smote Russia… We say a Metorite hit Russia… If these people had any education whatsoever they would know this and be able to discern truth from a myth that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah

  6. Matthew Swanson

    May 30, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    I hope to see them! I'll have some GAY to wave in their faces LOL

  7. Christopher Greer

    May 31, 2014 at 1:11 am

    Sweet. Who wants to join me in marathon trolling of these assholes?

  8. Carlos Rogelio Gonzalez Weins

    May 31, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Terri accepting Jesus then is not a choice but more like sticking it down your throat..So that you know the Christian faith is an invitation to get to know the God in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . It will never be an imposition needless to say an imperial one. What choice do others have when the only alternative you offer is to perish? Thank God this type of mentality is slowly dissipating in our world.

  9. Terri Cunningham

    June 2, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Dennis Fowler,
    First of all, I do not need your "PERMIT" to speak. Second of all, God does not need me to deliver such a "BASIC" message. He was kind enough to leave, "THE BIBLE".

  10. Terri Cunningham

    June 2, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Carlos Rogelio Gonzalez Weins ,
    It's an individual's choice. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not PERISH, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). I did not say to Perish was the only alternative. It's your decision, so why would I want to stick it down your throat… God doesn't. Your argument is not with me, it is with "The Bible", which is the word of God. I'm not sure this mentality is slowly dissipating. I guess we will all see at the end.

  11. Christopher Weakley

    June 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Terri Cunningham …First the Bible doesnt say hate the sin, love the sinner. That was a quote from Gandhi. Scripture does say in Romans 3:23 that "All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God". More to the point only God can judge what is sin and what isnt. Jesus makes it very clear that only those without sin can judge others (John 8:7). He also says that we cant pick out the sins of others until we have dealt with all of ours (Matthew 7 or Luke 6). Finally, Jesus says not to judge or condemn others (again in Matthew 7 and Luke 6).

    Finally, in Paul's letter to Titus, we read: "To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, (Titus 3:2-7).

    All of these would mean to me that only God can judge sin and further that sin is more centered around hating or judging others rather than loving and cherishing them. Perhaps you need to read the book you quote more.

  12. Terri Cunningham

    June 5, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Christopher Weakley ,
    I do read the Book (BIBLE), that I quote…FINALLY! I did not say that this quote "God hates the sin- not the sinner" was in the Bible. Go back to the top and you will see (I think), where I put parentheses around Biblical quotes (just like you did). Who am I speaking evil of or judging? I have no Heaven or Hell to put anyone in, so where is all this other stuff coming from, when I only quoted John 3:16-17. Lets clear it up now, my message was based on John 3: 16-17 accepting Jesus Christ as your PERSONAL Savior, and it being a choice to accept Him or not. It has nothing to do with me judging/hating…etc., so lets stick with the original message and stop trying to read more into it.

  13. Christopher Weakley

    June 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Terri Cunningham But you say "God hates the sin, not the sinner. " That is not a Biblical teaching. No where is that in the Bible. Nor is it in line with Biblical teaching. When you post telling people they need to repent to find God and be redeemed you are judging them as sinning or that you are in a place to judge them for their life. Shouldnt the testifying of Christ be more in your actions to show love. Are you coming down to counter the Westboro Church? They are not preaching the Love of God. What is your purpose for your post? Are you helping the downtrodden or the persecuted by your post? Are you uplifting the injured or healing the hurt by it?

    To say folks need to accept Christ as their savior assumes that they havent. That places you in judgement of them and that isnt what a Christian is about. You no more know the state of anyone's soul than I do yours. Confessing Christ means to say what Joy/Peace/Love you have found in your faith. How it moves and strengthens you. Let your light shine and others will see Christ by how you live and believe. As Teresa of Avila said, we are Christ's hands, feet, and heart in this world.

  14. Terri Cunningham

    June 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Christopher Weakley ,

    Again!!! I never said in my post that it was a Biblical teaching. You said/assumed it! We all came into this world as sinners (because of Adam), this is why he sent his Son Jesus to die for ALL of us, so that all of us may live and have everlasting life. You should know this. How can I judge, when I don't even know these people, so that cannot be true. Like I said before, I have no Heaven or Hell to put anyone in, so I care not to judge you are anyone. I don't even know you. I have never set foot in Topeka Kansas, so I would not now anything about this church. The purpose of my post was Salvation, so if Westboro is talking about getting souls saved…GOOD. I don't attend there, so I would not now what they are teaching.

    You are not making any sense. If you have already accepted Christ – It not necessary to repeat. Accepting Christ is a choice and had nothing to do with judging. It is an action. To say that folks need to accept Christ as their Savior does not assume they have not because I or you would not know – It is a personal thing. It does not place me in judgment to repeat (John 3:16) because Jesus said it first and I'm just repeating it. So your argument is not with me, it is with Jesus. Let's see if for what it is. Satan is very good at deceiving and what will make him happier than anyone missing "Salvation". If you miss this, nothing else will matters.

    I do agree with letting your light shine, by living it.

  15. Christopher Weakley

    June 5, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Terri Cunningham We will go round and round, but what I see is you are using the Bible as a bludgeon. You tell people that to be saved they have to believe in Jesus, but you are wrong. You can say you believe, but it is what you live out in that belief that matters. Saying the words dont matter, it matters what you do with what you believe. Jesus spoke about Love and said no greater love is this than a man lay down his life for his friends. Jesus then went and did just that. "Accepting Christ" is a footnote if you dont change your life in light of that choice. Being a Christian isnt a membership card, it is transformation.

    The question you have to ask yourself is why put out what you did above. Was your intent to be a witness to Christ's love or use a trite series of words to imply people need to "find Christ" (as if Christ was lost or not known to those people). More to the point, whose Christ are they finding? Is your Christ the same as mine?

    If you have Accepted Christ, then you wouldnt tell people that they need to accept Christ. They would see Christ in you and through you. They would see him transforming you and the world around into the Kingdom of God. Those who see Christ in your life, would be like I have to get some of that. What brought people to the Apostles wasnt the words, but what they saw as they lived what they believed. Words mean nothing without transforming action. So who will you march with on Saturday? As for me, I will march with the GLBTQ folks because I believe that they are showing the Love of God in their way.

  16. Terri Cunningham

    June 5, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Christopher Weakley
    Oh! That explains everything…I'm guessing you are Gay and trying to turn God's word around to fit you or condone your actions of what you believe in. Well! That is your choice and YOU will have to stand before GOD one day for your actions (like the rest of us), and see if He agrees with you. I think he will have the last word…not Christopher.

    By the way, I don't do marches; especially for things I don't believe in. I will be showing God's love Saturday, by volunteering in the local hospital, helping my elderly neighbor ( who had a mild stroke) clean her house or feeding the homeless in uptown. Something a little more constructed. THIS IS THE GOD, THAT I SERVE.

  17. Terri Cunningham

    June 5, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I'm done! So don't bother to send any more comments.

  18. Christopher Weakley

    June 5, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Terri Cunningham See, there is that judging thing again. You dont know if I am Gay or not or if God has a problem with Gay people or not. I do know that God didnt throw a stone at the women others were accusing of being a prostitute. All I can say is that God has a problem with me standing in judgement of another human being. I dont have that right.

    So what you are saying you came here to bash people. See I knew we would get to the point eventually. Perhaps, I hope you can find some day that your neighbor is also the gay person whom you bash. Marching sometimes is important too.

    Being gay isnt a sin….being hateful is….

  19. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 12, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    I'm sorry but you people are feeding these people with what your doing on the streets of America standing with people who are gay that you know are doing what's against America as if their the hero and America is the enemy. Anything that undermines the very strength of the United States of America is unconstitutional and I can promise you evolution will deal with these gays for going against the laws of life to make this perversion you see all across America. Btw these gays are a cult nothing more nothing less and in the end I hope aids is the only thing they find in their quest to fuck up this country.

  20. Ashley Marie Stevens

    June 12, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Stephen Douglas Lamar We must be one hell of a big "Cult" then. Open your eyes, this is 2014 not 1914!! How the hell are we going against the law by the way?

  21. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 12, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    I would rather watch you people learn what your choice of lifestyle is going to lead to and I am sorry but life does not agree with your choice and your kind is going to catch something and I hope it rids the world of all of you before you end up making this country so weak we loose it. Obama isn't the biggest problem in America YOU PEOPLE ARE. and its not his fault that America is dying its your fault for destroying The very morality this nation used as strength. Every choice a person makes has consequence's and I am sorry to say yours is going to end up killing you and I have no pity if it does for you because yuou asked for it.

  22. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 12, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    I am sorry to say you are wrong Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed themselves, because their city was divided. As you see out in America we are doing the same god dam thing to this country and I hope it ends up with us destroying America because we don't deserve her to be following in the same path that that city did.

  23. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 12, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Dennis Fowler Its very sad that you seek proof only an idiot would need proof to know that faith/god exists and as he has said only those who believe will see the truth those who follow the world will never see the truth because they believe not for they will see not.

  24. Ashley Marie Stevens

    June 12, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    Stephen Douglas Lamar Are you serious? What the hell have you been smoking? Sounds like to me you are committing treason against your own country. :)

  25. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 12, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    btw I am happy that the founding fathers are dead so they don't have to see what YOU PEOPLE have done to their America

  26. Ashley Marie Stevens

    June 12, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Stephen Douglas Lamar do you realize how much of an idiot you are making yourself out to be?

  27. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 12, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    Nope because this isn't America anymore, you cannot call this country something once you have betrayed everything it stands for and everything our founding fathers did for this country is now in vain.

  28. Ashley Marie Stevens

    June 12, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Stephen Douglas Lamar Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the founding fathers want equality for all? Game over.

  29. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 12, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Our founding fathers were against anything that weakens this nation to the point of another country taking her away from us. America's strength comes from the moral choices we make and standing up for this country, and I remember when it was all about just wanting to be happy, but now all I am reading online is the gays going from state to state forcing states to say yes that have already said no…..tell me one thing when a man rapes a woman by force does she have to say yes because that's what I see it as when I see these people forcing states to go against what they believe in. You cannot force someone to agree on something that's like removing their rights but then again I don't believe anyone has rights in America anymore and the gays have proven that.

  30. Ashley Marie Stevens

    June 12, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    Stephen Douglas Lamar Ok you seriously have qualified for fucktard of the year and this conversation is being shared with sooo many people. good day.

  31. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 12, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    yep and all I see is a woman that follows Anti-American behavior and wants this country to fall into the hands of someone else just like Obama Good day

  32. Ashley Marie Stevens

    June 12, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    Stephen Douglas Lamar Work on your grammar before you even think about trying to engage in an intelligent conversation with someone who is way out of your league.

  33. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 12, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    I wouldn't give you a chance to someone that has a picture of our statue of Liberty kissing a woman that's a insult to everything America stands for which in fact makes you as bad as the enemy cya I don't talk to people who support anti-American's

  34. Mohammed Alyagoob

    June 30, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Stephen Douglas Lamar You need a spelling and a grammar check homie! Besides aids infects anyone, it's a blood-borne pathogen. I guess stupidity is more contagious than aids, go get a clue you dump idiot!

  35. Mohammed Alyagoob

    June 30, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Stephen Douglas Lamar people will accept you for who you are when you come out!

  36. Mohammed Alyagoob

    June 30, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Stephen Douglas Lamar no worries I am sure the world will be saved by the likes of you!

  37. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I would rather put a bullet into my forehead than be like you people and your filth.

  38. Stephen Douglas Lamar

    June 30, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I would rather put a bullet into my forehead than be like you people and your filth.

  39. Christopher Greer

    June 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Stephen Douglas Lamar Could you do the world a favor and hurry up with that? If you don't have a gun on hand, I can recommend several other, relatively painful methods. Sadly, none are as fast or as effective as giving your Baretta a blow job.

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Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise

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Despite having President Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the prohibition on discrimination against LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act are all but dead as opponents of the measure have contorted it beyond recognition.

Political willpower is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end a filibuster on the bill — a tall order in any event — nor is there the willpower to force a vote on the Equality Act as opponents stoke fears about transgender kids in sports and not even unanimity in the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity said.

In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride month is days away, which would be an opportune time for Congress to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community by holding a vote on the legislation.

If the Equality Act were to come up for a Senate vote in the next month, it would not have the support to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of additional support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster.

“I haven’t really heard an update either way, which is usually not good,” one Democratic insider said. “My understanding is that our side was entrenched in a no-compromise mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, it doomed it this Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments of why it was broadly needed.”

The only thing keeping the final nail from being hammered into the Equality Act’s coffin is the unwillingness of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to the Blade continued to assert bipartisan talks are ongoing, strongly pushing back on any conclusion the legislation is dead.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Equality Act is “alive and well,” citing widespread public support he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.”

“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” David added. “As we engage with elected officials, we have confidence that Congress will listen to the voices of their constituents and continue fighting for the Equality Act through the lengthy legislative process.  We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to grow the already-high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the Equality Act is passed.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), chief sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, also signaled through a spokesperson work continues on the legislation, refusing to give up on expectations the legislation would soon become law.

“Sen. Merkley and his staff are in active discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to get this done,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that we expect to become law.”

A spokesperson Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had promised to force a vote on the Equality Act in the Senate on the day the U.S. House approved it earlier this year, pointed to a March 25 “Dear Colleague” letter in which he identified the Equality Act as one of several bills he’d bring up for a vote.

Despite any assurances, the hold up on the bill is apparent. Although the U.S. House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even reported out the bill yet to the floor in the aftermath of the first-ever Senate hearing on the bill in March. A Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic aide, however, disputed that inaction as evidence the Equality Act is dead in its tracks: “Bipartisan efforts on a path forward are ongoing.”

Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for inaction on the Equality Act, but with Manchin withholding his support for the legislation they can’t even count on the entirety of their caucus to vote “yes” if it came to the floor. Progressives continue to advocate an end to the filibuster to advance legislation Biden has promised as part of his agenda, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to advance legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to win approval in the Senate with a 50-50 party split.

The office of Manchin, who has previously said he couldn’t support the Equality Act over concerns about public schools having to implement the transgender protections applying to sports and bathrooms, hasn’t responded to multiple requests this year from the Blade on the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the Equality Act this year after having signed onto the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson talks are still happening across the aisle despite the appearances the legislation is dead.

“There continues to be bipartisan support for passing a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form, it cannot pass. That’s why there are ongoing discussions among senators and stakeholders about a path forward.”

Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have railroaded the debate by making the Equality Act about an end to women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and danger to women in sex-segregated places like bathrooms and prisons. That doesn’t even get into resolving the issue on drawing the line between civil rights for LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be litigated in the courts as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day now to issue a ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia to determine if foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples over religious objections.

For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of the Equality Act may be most keenly felt.

Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, disputed any notion the Equality Act is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive.”

“We remain optimistic despite misinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our movement partners are still working fruitfully on the Equality Act with senators. In fact, we are gaining momentum with all the field organizing we’re doing, like phone banking constituents to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever gets through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote during this Congress, and we are hopeful we can win.”

But one Democratic source said calls to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, have has outnumbered calls in favor of it by a substantial margin, with a particular emphasis on Manchin.

No stories are present in the media about same-sex couples being kicked out of a restaurant for holding hands or transgender people for using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 states thanks to the patchwork of civil rights laws throughout the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the American Unity Fund, which has bolstered the Republican-led Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act, said he continues to believe the votes are present for a compromise form of the bill.

“I know for a fact there is a supermajority level of support in the Senate for a version of the Equality Act that is fully protective of both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in getting something done this Congress.”

Deaton, however, didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on what evidence exists of agreeing on this compromise.

Biden has already missed the goal he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. Although Biden renewed his call to pass the legislation in his speech to Congress last month, as things stand now that appears to be a goal he won’t realize for the remainder of this Congress.

Nor has the Biden administration made the Equality Act an issue for top officials within the administration as it pushes for an infrastructure package as a top priority. One Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, legislative affairs director for the White House, delegated work on the Equality Act to a deputy as opposed to handling it herself.

To be sure, Biden has demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the fullest extent possible and dismantling former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ appointments with the confirmation of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.

A White House spokesperson insisted Biden’s team across the board remains committed to the Equality Act, pointing to his remarks to Congress.

“President Biden has urged Congress to get the Equality Act to his desk so he can sign it into law and provide long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The White House and its entire legislative team remains in ongoing and close coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure we are working across the aisle to push the Equality Act forward.”

But at least in the near-term, that progress will fall short of fulfilling the promise of updating federal civil rights law with the Equality Act, which will mean LGBTQ people won’t be able to rely on those protections when faced with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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D.C. bill to ban LGBTQ panic defense delayed by Capitol security

Delivery of bill to Congress was held up due to protocols related to Jan. 6 riots

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New fencing around the Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented some D.C. bills from being delivered to the Hill for a required congressional review. (Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A bill approved unanimously last December by the D.C. Council to ban the so-called LGBTQ panic defense has been delayed from taking effect as a city law because the fence installed around the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented the law from being delivered to Congress.

According to Eric Salmi, communications director for D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who guided the bill through the Council’s legislative process, all bills approved by the Council and signed by the D.C. mayor must be hand-delivered to Congress for a required congressional review.

“What happened was when the Capitol fence went up after the January insurrection, it created an issue where we physically could not deliver laws to Congress per the congressional review period,” Salmi told the Washington Blade.

Among the bills that could not immediately be delivered to Congress was the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020, which was approved by the Council on a second and final vote on Dec. 15.

Between the time the bill was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and published in the D.C. Register under procedural requirements for all bills, it was not ready to be transmitted to Congress until Feb. 16, the Council’s legislative record for the bill shows.

Salmi said the impasse in delivering the bill to Congress due to the security fence prevented the bill from reaching Congress on that date and prevented the mandatory 60-day congressional review period for this bill from beginning at that time. He noted that most bills require a 30 legislative day review by Congress.

But the Evangelista-Hunter bill, named after a transgender woman and a gay man who died in violent attacks by perpetrators who attempted to use the trans and gay panic defense, includes a law enforcement related provision that under the city’s Home Rule Charter passed by Congress in the early 1970s requires a 60-day congressional review.

“There is a chance it goes into effect any day now, just given the timeline is close to being up,” Salmi said on Tuesday. “I don’t know the exact date it was delivered, but I do know the countdown is on,” said Salmi, who added, “I would expect any day now it should go into effect and there’s nothing stopping it other than an insurrection in January.”

If the delivery to Congress had not been delayed, the D.C. Council’s legislative office estimated the congressional review would have been completed by May 12.

A congressional source who spoke on condition of being identified only as a senior Democratic aide, said the holdup of D.C. bills because of the Capitol fence has been corrected.

“The House found an immediate workaround, when this issue first arose after the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the aide said.

“This is yet another reason why D.C. Council bills should not be subject to a congressional review period and why we need to grant D.C. statehood,” the aide said.

The aide added that while no disapproval resolution had been introduced in Congress to overturn the D.C. Evangelista-Hunter bill, House Democrats would have defeated such a resolution.

“House Democrats support D.C. home rule, statehood, and LGBTQ rights,” said the aide.

LGBTQ rights advocates have argued that a ban on using a gay or transgender panic defense in criminal trials is needed to prevent defense attorneys from inappropriately asking juries to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression is to blame for a defendant’s criminal act, including murder.

Some attorneys have argued that their clients “panicked” after discovering the person against whom they committed a violent crime was gay or transgender, prompting them to act in a way they believed to be a form of self-defense.

In addition to its provision banning the LGBTQ panic defense, the Evangelista-Hunter bill includes a separate provision that strengthens the city’s existing hate crimes law by clarifying that hatred need not be the sole motivating factor for an underlying crime such as assault, murder, or threats to be prosecuted as a hate crime.

LGBTQ supportive prosecutors have said the clarification was needed because it is often difficult to prove to a jury that hatred is the only motive behind a violent crime. The prosecutors noted that juries have found defendants not guilty of committing a hate crime on grounds that they believed other motives were involved in a particular crime after defense lawyers argued that the law required “hate” to be the only motive in order to find someone guilty of a hate crime.

Salmi noted that while the hate crime clarification and panic defense prohibition provisions of the Evangelista-Hunter bill will become law as soon as the congressional review is completed, yet another provision in the bill will not become law after the congressional review because there are insufficient funds in the D.C. budget to cover the costs of implementing the provision.

The provision gives the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the Office of the D.C. Attorney General authority to investigate hate related discrimination at places of public accommodation. Salmi said the provision expands protections against discrimination to include web-based retailers or online delivery services that are not physically located in D.C.

“That is subject to appropriations,” Salmi said. “And until it is funded in the upcoming budget it cannot be legally enforced.”

He said that at Council member Allen’s request, the Council added language to the bill that ensures that all other provisions of the legislation that do not require additional funding – including the ban on use of the LGBTQ panic defense and the provision clarifying that hatred doesn’t have to be the sole motive for a hate crime – will take effect as soon as the congressional approval process is completed.

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D.C. man charged with 2020 anti-gay death threat rearrested

Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011

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shooting, DC Eagle, assault, hate crime, anti-gay attack, police discrimination, sex police, Sisson, gay news, Washington Blade

A D.C. man arrested in August 2020 for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the victim’s apartment in the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood and who was released while awaiting trial was arrested again two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill another man in an unrelated incident.

D.C. Superior Court records show that Jalal Malki, who was 37 at the time of his 2020 arrest on a charge of bias-related attempts to do bodily harm against the gay man, was charged on May 4, 2021 with unlawful entry, simple assault, threats to kidnap and injure a person, and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon against the owner of a vacant house at 4412 Georgia Ave., N.W.

Court charging documents state that Malki was allegedly staying at the house without permission as a squatter. An arrest affidavit filed in court by D.C. police says Malki allegedly threatened to kill the man who owns the house shortly after the man arrived at the house while Malki was inside.

According to the affidavit, Malki walked up to the owner of the house while the owner was sitting in his car after having called police and told him, “If you come back here, I’m going to kill you.” While making that threat Malki displayed what appeared to be a gun in his waistband, but which was later found to be a toy gun, the affidavit says.

Malki then walked back inside the house minutes before police arrived and arrested him. Court records show that similar to the court proceedings following his 2020 arrest for threatening the gay man, a judge in the latest case ordered Malki released while awaiting trial. In both cases, the judge ordered him to stay away from the two men he allegedly threatened to kill.

An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police in the 2020 case states that Malki allegedly made the threats inside an apartment building where the victim lived on the 2300 block of Champlain Street, N.W. It says Malki was living in a nearby building but often visited the building where the victim lived.

“Victim 1 continued to state during an interview that it was not the first time that Defendant 1 had made threats to him, but this time Defendant 1 stated that if he caught him outside, he would ‘fucking kill him.’” the affidavit says. It quotes the victim as saying during this time Malki repeatedly called the victim a “fucking faggot.”

The affidavit, prepared by the arresting officers, says that after the officers arrested Malki and were leading him to a police transport vehicle to be booked for the arrest, he expressed an “excited utterance” that he was “in disbelief that officers sided with the ‘fucking faggot.’”

Court records show that Malki is scheduled to appear in court on June 4 for a status hearing for both the 2020 arrest and the arrest two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill the owner of the house in which police say he was illegally squatting.

Superior Court records show that Malki had been arrested three times between 2011 and 2015 in cases unrelated to the 2021 and 2020 cases for allegedly also making threats of violence against people. Two of the cases appear to be LGBTQ related, but prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not list the cases as hate crimes.

In the first of the three cases, filed in July 2011, Malki allegedly shoved a man inside Dupont Circle and threatened to kill him after asking the man why he was wearing a purple shirt.

“Victim 1 believes the assault occurred because Suspect 1 believes Victim 1 is a homosexual,” the police arrest affidavit says.

Court records show prosecutors charged Malki with simple assault and threats to do bodily harm in the case. But the court records show that on Sept. 13, 2011, D.C. Superior Court Judge Stephen F. Eilperin found Malki not guilty on both charges following a non-jury trial.

The online court records do not state why the judge rendered a not guilty verdict. With the courthouse currently closed to the public and the press due to COVID-related restrictions, the Washington Blade couldn’t immediately obtain the records to determine the judge’s reason for the verdict.

In the second case, court records show Malki was arrested by D.C. police outside the Townhouse Tavern bar and restaurant at 1637 R St., N.W. on Nov. 7, 2012 for allegedly threatening one or more people with a knife after employees ordered Malki to leave the establishment for “disorderly behavior.”

At the time, the Townhouse Tavern was located next door to the gay nightclub Cobalt, which before going out of business two years ago, was located at the corner of 17th and R Streets, N.W.

The police arrest affidavit in the case says Malki allegedly pointed a knife in a threatening way at two of the tavern’s employees who blocked his path when he attempted to re-enter the tavern. The affidavit says he was initially charged by D.C. police with assault with a dangerous weapon – knife. Court records, however, show that prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office lowered the charges to two counts of simple assault. The records show that on Jan. 15, 2013, Malki pleaded guilty to the two charges as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

The records show that Judge Marissa Demeo on that same day issued a sentence of 30 days for each of the two charges but suspended all 30 days for both counts. She then sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for both charges and ordered that he undergo alcohol and drug testing and undergo treatment if appropriate.

In the third case prior to the 2020 and 2021 cases, court records show Malki was arrested outside the Cobalt gay nightclub on March 14, 2015 on multiple counts of simple assault, attempted assault with a dangerous weapon – knife, possession of a prohibited weapon – knife, and unlawful entry.

The arrest affidavit says an altercation started on the sidewalk outside the bar when for unknown reasons, Malki grabbed a female customer who was outside smoking and attempted to pull her toward him. When her female friend came to her aid, Malki allegedly got “aggressive” by threatening the woman and “removed what appeared to be a knife from an unknown location” and pointed it at the woman’s friend in a threatening way, the affidavit says.

It says a Cobalt employee minutes later ordered Malki to leave the area and he appeared to do so. But others noticed that he walked toward another entrance door to Cobalt and attempted to enter the establishment knowing he had been ordered not to return because of previous problems with his behavior, the affidavit says. When he attempted to push away another employee to force his way into Cobalt, Malki fell to the ground during a scuffle and other employees held him on the ground while someone else called D.C. police.

Court records show that similar to all of Malki’s arrests, a judge released him while awaiting trial and ordered him to stay away from Cobalt and all of those he was charged with threatening and assaulting.

The records show that on Sept. 18, 2015, Malki agreed to a plea bargain offer by prosecutors in which all except two of the charges – attempted possession of a prohibited weapon and simple assault – were dropped. Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. on Oct. 2, 2015 sentenced Malki to 60 days of incarnation for each of the two charges but suspended all but five days, which he allowed Malki to serve on weekends, the court records show.

The judge ordered that the two five-day jail terms could be served concurrently, meaning just five days total would be served, according to court records. The records also show that Judge Irving sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for each of the two counts and ordered that he enter an alcohol treatment program and stay away from Cobalt.

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