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HRC linked to law firm defending Exxon Mobil against anti-gay allegations

Board member works for Seyfarth Shaw, which maintains perfect 100 rating on HRC index

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Human Rights Campaign, HRC, gay news, Washington Blade
Human Rights Campaign, HRC, gay news, Washington Blade

A board member for the Human Rights Campaign works for the law firm that defended Exxon Mobil against charges of anti-gay bias. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A board member of the Human Rights Campaign works for a law firm that has defended oil-and-gas giant Exxon Mobil against charges of anti-gay bias, the Washington Blade has learned.

Although his employer asserts he had nothing to do with the defense of Exxon Mobil, his involvement with both the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group and his international law firm, Seyfarth Shaw, raises questions about why HRC hasn’t publicly rebuked the firm for defending alleged anti-gay bias at the company, such as by docking the company points on the Corporate Equality Index.

Chris Carolan, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., is one of 32 HRC board members. According to HRC’s website, board members make policy, manage finances and coordinate volunteer involvement in addition to having ultimate authority over the organization.

He’s also a partner at the Chicago-based international law firm Seyfarth Shaw. According to his bio on Seyfarth Shaw’s website, Carolan is a partner in the New York office.

His practice, his bio says, focuses on transactional work, including banking and lending, private equity investments, real estate finance, venture financings, mergers and acquisitions as well as bankruptcy and restructuring.

In August, the Washington Blade first reported that Carolan’s law firm, Seyfarth Shaw, was responsible for defending Exxon Mobil against charges of anti-gay bias. That was confirmed in June by the publication of a legal document in the case bearing the name of the law firm.

The LGBT group Freedom to Work filed the complaint before the Illinois Human Rights Department last year on the basis of paired-resume testing in response to a job opening at the company.

For the same job opening, the group submitted two applications: One was from a more qualified applicant who outed herself as LGBT by noting work at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund; the other was a less qualified applicant who gave no indication about her sexual orientation or gender identity. The less qualified non-LGBT applicant received multiple callbacks, the more qualified LGBT applicant received nothing.

Exxon Mobil offers no explicit protections barring anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace. Just last month, shareholders for the 17th time rejected a proposal that would have added such pro-LGBT protections to the policy. Only 19.5 percent of shareholders supported the failed resolution, which was sponsored by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

In February 2014, the Illinois Department of Human Rights dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction, saying Freedom to Work has no employee-employer relationship with Exxon Mobil. However, Freedom to Work is asking the Illinois Human Rights Commission to review the case. The request is still pending, according to Freedom to Work, which considers the litigation ongoing.

HRC is already on the record in support of the lawsuit against Exxon Mobil. In a May 2013 email blast to supporters, HRC President Chad Griffin called the filing “a brave legal complaint from the equality advocates at Freedom to Work.”

Carolan’s employment at Seyfarth Shaw and membership on HRC’s board raises numerous questions, such as whether he ever voiced objections to his law firm’s participation in the lawsuit or was even aware of it happening. He didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Brian Kiefer, a Seyfarth spokesperson, said Carolan had no involvement in the matter at hand when asked by the Blade about the litigation, but declined to comment further.

A secondary question is whether Carolan’s employment at Seyfarth Shaw discouraged HRC from taking against action the law firm after its defense of Exxon Mobil became known.

In August, Michael Cole-Schwartz, then a spokesperson for HRC, told the Washington Blade his organization would dock points from a law firm representing Exxon Mobil in an anti-gay bias lawsuit in HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.

“Yes, we would and have done so in the past,” Cole-Schwartz said at the time. “The firm Foley & Lardner was docked 15 points previously for their work representing organizations trying to stop marriage equality (engagements which have since ended and they are no longer docked), although it should be noted the firm has also had a long history of pro bono support for LGBT causes. For the 2012 CEI, we raised the possible point deduction from -15 to -25.”

But after it was revealed Seyfarth Shaw was the law firm defending Exxon Mobil, no deduction was assessed. A look online at HRC’s Corporate Equality Index as of Friday reveals the law firm still has a perfect score of “100.” Moreover, HRC has made no public statements in regard to Seyfarth Shaw working for Exxon Mobil.

Still, HRC has turned up the heat on Exxon Mobil for its policies. Following the announcement from the White House that President Obama is set to sign an executive order barring federal contractors from engaging in LGBT discrimination, HRC said it solicited a statement from the company asking if it would comply with the directive. The response purportedly from Exxon Mobil was that its policy included protections for LGBT people, even though it doesn’t explicitly mention sexual orientation and gender identity.

In a news statement at the time, Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president of communications, said Exxon Mobil was lying about protections under the policy, saying the company’s response was “in fact a masterclass in doublespeak — crafted, no doubt, by a team of well-paid lawyers.”

HRC’s Sainz offered an extended response to the situation, saying HRC understands that law firms have duties to represent clients — even in unpopular situations.

“It is the court that is responsible for determining whether a lawyer’s client has violated the law based on the facts and law put before it,” Sainz said. “Unless a lawyer takes extreme steps that would harm the larger LGBT community, we, like all Americans, allow lawyers to participate in our adversarial judicial process without necessarily ascribing to them the behavior of their clients.”

Sainz added that at no time did anyone from Seyfarth Shaw consult with HRC about client engagement or engage in any kind of lobbying effort related to the Corporate Equality Index.

David Lat, a law blogger for “Above the Law,” has already raised questions about whether Seyfarth Shaw was compelled to defend Exxon Mobil against anti-gay discrimination.

“Large firms like Seyfarth are arguably too big to handle such controversial cases comfortably; they have too many current and prospective employees and clients who might be upset by their defense of alleged anti-gay bias,” Lat wrote in August. “In contrast, elite conservative boutiques like Bancroft or Cooper & Kirk, which defended California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage, don’t have such worries. They are small firms, with fewer clients and employees, and many of those clients and workers are social conservatives, who would be unfazed by defending a large corporation accused of anti-gay prejudice.”

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, had no comment on the situation other than to call on Seyfarth Shaw to direct Exxon Mobil to adopt a more pro-LGBT policy.

“We do hope the lawyers at Seyfarth Shaw will urge their client Exxon to update its employment policies to specifically list sexual orientation and gender identity in its workplace protections,” Almeida said. “After years of Exxon management fighting against the shareholder resolution to add LGBT protections, it would also make sense for Seyfarth lawyers to give Exxon managers some training on creating equal opportunity for LGBT employees and applicants.”

The complete statement from HRC’s Fred Sainz in response to the situation follows:

Like the vast majority of Americans, HRC recognizes that our judicial system requires parties on different sides of a dispute to vigorously advocate for their position before a court based on both the facts and applicable law. Lawyers and their firms have ethical duties to represent clients, even unpopular ones, who are accused of violating the law or otherwise have a need for legal representation. It is the court that is responsible for determining whether a lawyer’s client has violated the law based on the facts and law put before it. Unless a lawyer takes extreme steps that would harm the larger LGBT community, we, like all Americans, allow lawyers to participate in our adversarial judicial process without necessarily ascribing to them the behavior of their clients.

 

In two extraordinary circumstances, HRC has criticized law firms that have taken affirmative steps beyond simple legal representation to advocate anti-LGBT positions and take on matters that would have a significant adverse impact on the larger LGBT community.

 

In the case of Foley & Lardner, HRC deducted points from the firm’s CEI score in 2011 because of the firm’s leadership and advocacy on behalf of the National Organization for Marriage, the nation’s leading anti-LGBT organization. In particular, we witnessed a firm partner advising community members who made anti-LGBT statements at a public hearing. This partner was also registered as a lobbyist for NOM, and the firm made false and hurtful arguments in legal correspondence to a state agency. In a letter to the firm chairman, we explained why we considered the firm’s actions at the time to be outside the scope of its professional responsibilities.

 

With regards to King & Spalding, HRC criticized the firm for voluntarily accepting taxpayer funds to take up the House Republicans’ defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, the law struck down last year as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. This highly unusual representation would have had a significant negative impact on LGBT Americans and would have required the firm to make inaccurate and harmful representations about LGBT people. Moreover, the firm had no obligation to take on this new high profile client and matter or to defend a government actor that was capable of providing its own representation.

 

We take seriously our role in calling out behavior, whether by an individual, corporation or a law firm, that is intended to harm the LGBT community. Over the years HRC has taken the lead in criticizing Exxon Mobil for its lack of commitment to equality, including recently revealing that it lied about its non-discrimination policies. At the same time, we recognize the ethical principles that law firms operate under every day, which include defending their clients against allegations that they may have broken the law.

 

We do not criticize lawyers and firms for the roles they are expected to play in ensuring the fair application of justice. But we also expect that that they will act within the scope of these ethical obligations and we will hold those that act outside of them in ways that are harmful to the LGBT community accountable for their actions.

 

At no time did anyone from Shaw consult with HRC about their client engagement nor did they engage in any kind of lobbying effort related to the CEI.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Lester Equality Metta

    June 27, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Did you see the law firm's fb page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Seyfarth-Shaw/94066797503

  2. Serkan Altan

    June 27, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Not surprised. I never believed their sincerity. When I was in need of help seeking US to change anti-gay asylum laws, HRC wouldn't even lift a finger because I was foreigner and the issue was not on headlines at that moment…HRC loves headlines…The laws / policies were changed successfully…Then HRC sent me letter asking for donations. I never forgave them..

    • El Dorado

      July 2, 2014 at 11:56 pm

      I don’t trivialize your plight with the anti-asylum laws, addressing them is important and you have to wonder if after the Obama administration leaves office if his policies will be continued or reversed if future administrations are less gay supportive? However, could part of the issue be that HRC has limited resources and budgets and has to pick and choose battles?

      In this country we still have several states that make it legal to fire or deny employment to GLBT people. That is a big issue of concern. It’s good if we can help our foreign friends but we need our resources to achieve total equality here first before we think of spending it on others abroad.

      Further, HRC may seem to have influence but it really depends on who is in power in Washington and how supportive they are of GLBT issues. We got nowhere under George Bush before for example.

  3. Serkan Altan

    June 27, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    A very good friend of mine had a lawsuit against her former employer for anti-gay practices… Guess who defended the defendant?. The same law firm…Exxon Mobil is definetely not the only anti-gay client they defended . That is a fact!

  4. I'm Just Sayin'

    June 28, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Let’s face it people, corporations and law firms as well, do what is in their best interest. Law firms turn down cases and clients all the time for conflicts. Apparently, Exxon Mobil’s business means more to the partners at Seyfarth Shaw than their 100 score on HRC’s Equality Index. When it was just words on paper, the law firm was more than happy to participate in HRC’s little PR farce. When it became about money, not so much. Why is it that it always feels like Fred Sainz checks HRC’s donor list before formulating his response? The HRC Equality Index is supposed to be about an organization’s commitment to their employees. A 100 score should mean that is unwavering, demonstrated and sustained. It shouldn’t include an asterisk noting “except in those circumstances when was hard.”

  5. Tom Mullen

    June 28, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    As to Exxon, with state laws (some) that protect LGBT people from sexual orientation discrimination and harassment, Exxon is crazy not to employ policy that follows state law. Otherwise, Exxon is stuck in employment and labor litigation if such employee conduct occurs in states like California – the aggrieved employer is protected by his or her status and Exxon is on the hook.

  6. Tom Mullen

    June 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Lat suggests Exxon should go to smaller conservative friendly firms. That is not the way law departments in global corporations work; the size and breath of many cases require the best and brightest and the enormous amount of staffing that firms like Cooper & Kirk can't handle.

  7. John Joiner

    June 28, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Has anyone noticed the headquarters of Exxon/Mobile is based in Dallas, Texas? Unfortunately, my home state is one of the least LGBTQ friendly states in the union. What else would you expect? I do have top remind you that Mobile did have a LGBTQ tolerance policy in placee UNTIL Exxon bought then out, and then cancelled the Mobile inclusion clause.

    • El Dorado

      July 2, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      Would you say Texas is as bad as Russia is? What Russia is like now is what the US was more like about 50 years ago when it came to GLBT issues.

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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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