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Bowser easily wins race for D.C. mayor

All eight gay, lesbian candidates lose races in D.C. election



Muriel Bowser, gay news, Washington Blade
Muriel Bowser, gay news, Washington Blade

Muriel Bowser defeated David Catania and Carol Schwartz in the race for D.C. mayor. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) won election as mayor Tuesday night by defeating fellow Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) by a margin of 54 to 35 percent, with former Council member Carol Schwartz (I) finishing a distant third with 7 percent of the vote.

Most political observers have said Catania, who’s gay, waged a hard-fought campaign that turned the city’s general election for mayor into a rare competitive race. In a city with an overwhelmingly Democratic electorate, a Democrat has won the mayoralty in every election since the start of the city’s first home rule government in 1974.

Catania, a former Republican who has served on the Council for 17 years, along with his highly committed supporters, argued that the city’s electoral dynamic had changed, making it possible for him to be the first non-Democrat as well as the first white and openly gay person to win election as D.C. mayor.

Catania and his supporters also argued that he was the most progressive of the three main candidates.

But Tuesday night’s results appear to confirm that despite an influx of as many as 60,000 new mostly young adult residents in the city since the 2010 election, many of whom have registered as independents, the long-standing electoral dynamic remains in place – with Democrats continuing to dominate the political landscape.

Most LGBT activists, whose support was divided between Catania and Bowser, agreed that non-LGBT issues would likely be the deciding factor in the race since each of the three main candidates were strong supporters of LGBT equality.

Bowser’s LGBT supporters were quick to point out that her campaign manager, Bo Shuff, is gay as is her brother, Marvin Bowser, who served as her campaign liaison to the LGBT community. Like Catania, Bowser had a large contingent of LGBT people serving as volunteers on her campaign.

“This campaign did not end the way we had hoped, and so I want to begin by saying to Miss Bowser – congratulations on a well-run race,” Catania said in his concession speech.

In addressing several hundred people at the Long View Gallery on 9th Street, N.W., Catania said he knew from the beginning that he was waging an uphill fight. Citing his key issues of improved public education, marriage equality, healthcare and affordable housing, among others, Catania urged his supporters to continue to push for those issues.

“But the important thing is to fight,” he said. “The important thing is to acknowledge the significance of the struggle and to show by example that we never give up,” he said.

Added Catania,  “And my last request from each of you is to take that spirit of never giving up and offer your service to our new mayor so that she succeeds, because when she succeeds we all succeed.”

In her victory speech before a packed house at the Howard Theater less than a mile from where Catania spoke, Bowser praised Catania for a hard-fought campaign and called on all city residents to join her in her quest to move the city forward.

“I’m humbled and I’m grateful standing here as the next mayor of my hometown,” Bowser told the cheering crowd. “I’m standing here like so many of you on the shoulders of all of those that sacrificed so that we may be here,” she said. “I stand on their shoulders and I take the great responsibility of doing my best every day and never letting them down.”

Bowser and Catania each won nine of the 18 precincts believed to have large concentrations of LGBT residents and which the Washington Blade monitors in mayoral elections. Catania won by margins greater than 10 percent in precincts in neighborhoods that include Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, Capitol Hill, the 14th and U Streets, N.W. corridor, and one of two precincts in the Logan Circle area.

Bowser won by a narrow margin in one of the Logan Circle precincts but won by lopsided margins in precincts in Columbia Heights, Shaw, the Southwest waterfront, Anacostia, Ledroit Park and Bloomingdale.

Bowser, meanwhile, won in Wards 1, 4, 5, 7 and 8. Catania won in Wards 2,3 and 6.

In other city races, seven openly gay or lesbian candidates lost their contests for an at-large City Council seat, the city’s newly elected attorney general position, and the Ward 1 seat on the city’s Board of Education. In each of these races, the opposing candidates expressed strong support for LGBT rights, shifting the focus of the campaigns to non-LGBT issues.

Gay Libertarian Party candidate Bruce Majors, who was one of three lesser known candidates running for mayor, received 989 votes, which came to less than 1 percent of the total vote. He finished behind Statehood Green Party candidate Faith, who received 1,176 votes and ahead of community activist Nestor Djonka, who received 364 votes. Djonka dropped out of the race and endorsed Bowser three weeks before the election, but it was too late for the election board to remove his name from the ballot.

Lesbian activist and government affairs company executive Courtney Snowden, an independent, lost her bid for one of two at-large City Council seats up for grabs in a 15-candidate race. Snowden finished in fifth place with 6 percent of the vote, far behind D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), who won re-election by coming in first place with 24 percent of the vote.

Community activist and former journalist Elissa Silverman, also an independent, finished second with 12 percent of the vote, putting her over the top to win the second of the two seats. Silverman received strong support from LGBT activists when she ran unsuccessfully for an at-large Council seat two years ago.

Snowden received endorsements from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and received a +10 rating from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, the group’s highest possible rating. She and fellow candidate Robert White received the endorsement of the Washington Post.

Her loss means the D.C. Council will be without an openly gay member for the first time since 1997, when Catania first won his Council seat. Catania gave up that seat to run for mayor. Gay Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who won election to the Council in 1998, lost his re-election bid in the city’s Democratic primary in April. Like Catania, he leaves the Council on Jan. 1.

Similar to Silverman, who beat Snowden, community activist and public relations firm executive Brianne Nadeau, who defeated Graham in the primary, is a strong supporter of LGBT rights.

Gay Republican and Ward 1 civic activist Marc Morgan finished in 9th place in the at-large Council race with 3 percent of the vote.

In the attorney general race, lesbian activist and attorney Lateefah Williams, a Democrat, finished last in a five-candidate race, receiving 7 percent of the vote. Attorney and former law firm executive Karl Racine, who also received the endorsement of the Washington Post, won the race with 37 percent of the vote.

Attorney and former law firm partner Edward “Smitty” Smith, who won the endorsement of the Stein Club, finished second with 19 percent of the vote.

Gay public education advocate David Do finished a close second in a five-candidate race for the Ward 1 D.C. school board seat, losing to former teacher Laura Wilson Phelan by a margin of 29 percent to 25 percent for Do.

A second out gay candidate in the race, Scott Simpson, finished third with 12 percent of the vote. Simpson works as press secretary for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and received the endorsement of the group’s leader, Wade Henderson.

The remaining out gay candidate, Libertarian Party member and community activist Martin Moulton, lost his bid for the city’s shadow U.S. Representative seat. He came in third place in a three-candidate race with 6 percent of the vote. Democratic and Latino community activist Franklin Garcia won the race with 64 percent of the vote.

In other city races for City Council seats, seats on the school board in Wards 3, 5 and 6, the shadow Senate seat, and the city’s non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, long held by Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, all of the winners are strong supporters of LGBT equality.

“In terms of the LGBT community, I think the government is going to continue with the progressive politics that it’s pursued over the last decade,” said LGBT supportive Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large), who won re-election Tuesday night by a lopsided margin.

“The Council continues to be committed to equality for everybody, and I don’t see any change there,” Mendelson told the Blade at Bowser’s election night gathering.

Some Catania supporters, while agreeing that Bowser is a friend of the LGBT community, said Catania would have been a more outspoken and aggressive supporter of on LGBT issues. Others expressed disappointment that more LGBT people didn’t vote for Catania.

“I’m sad with the results and I feel like perhaps the community didn’t stand with him like we should have,” said Paul Guequierre, the former deputy communications director for the Human Rights Campaign.

“I think we turned our back on one of our own because he doesn’t have a ‘D’ behind his name,” he said.

Gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who supported Bowser, is among the LGBT activists that believes Bowser’s affiliation with the Democratic Party shows she’s more in tune with their own political views.

“Muriel Bowser’s big win is a statement by the people that they want to continue the progress that we have been making in our city and believe it can best be done by a progressive Democrat,” Rosenstein said. “It is a win for a candidate who has the skills to unite our city.”

Veteran gay activist Bob Summersgill, former president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, said there were no surprises in Tuesday’s D.C. election.

“All of the LGBT candidates lost. None were expected to win,” he said. “There were too many gay-friendly candidates, and no one running anti-gay. There were also no big gay issues,” he said.

“Consequently, LGBT supporters were all over, backing different candidates for all sorts of reasons,” Summersgill said. “This is very positive and shows the maturity of our community and our politicians.”

David Catania, gay news, Washington Blade

David Catania’s defeat in the mayoral race, and other losses by gay candidates, means D.C. will be without an openly gay Council member for the first time since 1997. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

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

Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011



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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Biden names civil rights veteran to U.S. Education Dept.

Catherine Lhamon’s portfolio will include LGBTQ rights, sexual misconduct, racial discrimination



Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education Catherine Lhamon. (Photo public domain))

The White House announced Thursday that President Joe Biden has nominated Catherine Lhamon to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.

Lhamon currently serves as a Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for Racial Justice and Equity at the White House, where she manages the President’s equity policy portfolio. She is a former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU) and served as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 2017 to 2021.

She has also served as Legal Affairs Secretary to California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Her portfolio at Education, where she previously served in the same position under former President Barack Obama, will include LGBTQ rights, sexual misconduct and racial discrimination in the nation’s K-12 schools, universities and colleges. Lhamon was Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, to which President Obama nominated her and the Senate confirmed her in 2013.

“I am thrilled that President Biden is nominating Catherine Lhamon to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Catherine has devoted her career to ensuring equity is at the core of all her work,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement released by his office Thursday.

“She has a strong record of fighting for communities of color and underserved communities, whether as the current Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council, the former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, or as a civil rights educator at Georgetown University. We are thrilled to have Catherine serving as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and know she will continue to fight for fairness, equity, and justice for all of America’s students.”

Lhamon has also litigated civil rights cases at National Center for Youth Law, Public Counsel Law Center, and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.  Lhamon taught federal civil rights appeals at Georgetown University Law Center in the Appellate Litigation Program and clerked for the Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Catherine Lhamon is the right choice to lead the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights at such a critical time for the country and the agency. There is much work to do in order to roll back the harmful policies and legacies of Betsy DeVos, from her attacks on transgender students to her unconscionable revocation of discriminatory discipline guidance and rewrite of Title IX rules,” Adele Kimmel, Director of the Students’ Civil Rights Project at Public Justice told the Blade in an email.

“During her previous tenure in the same job, Catherine embraced equality, enforced Title IX and ensured students had an ally inside the federal government. She will do so again, and the Senate should move to quickly confirm her so she can begin the work of restoring the Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights and dignity of students and implementing the Biden Administration’s pledge to undo the damage that DeVos has done,” Kimmel added.

Born in Virginia and raised in California, Lhamon graduated from Amherst College and Yale Law School. Lhamon and her husband and two daughters are transitioning between California and Maryland.

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IDAHOBiT events to promote intersectionality, resilience, allyship

HRC president to participate in virtual panel in Canada



(Photo courtesy of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia committee)


Intersectionality, resilience and allyship are among the themes that this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia events will highlight.

Dignity Network Canada and the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention on May 17 will hold a virtual panel that will feature Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, Canadian Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity Executive Director Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, Kaleidoscope Trust Executive Director Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, COC Nederland Executive Director Marie Ricardo and Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. The British High Commission and the Dutch Embassy in Canada have co-sponsored the event.

“We hope that this will be a really interesting and important conversation on intersectionality and transnational solidarity — and what it means for these leaders and their organizations during these times,” reads a description of the event.

The U.N. LGBTI Core Group on May 17 will host a virtual IDAHOBiT event that will focus on ways to develop an “inclusive and diverse post-pandemic world.” The World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American and Asian Development Banks host a similar IDAHOBiT commemoration.

“In order to heal from the economic, social, and public health dire impact the pandemic has had and still has, every plan of recovery must take into account a human-rights based, intersectional and gender responsive approach that addresses the specific needs of LGBTI persons in order not to leave them further behind,” reads a description of the U.N. LGBTI Core Group event.

Several Russian LGBTQ rights groups on May 17 will hold a “Vaccine for Acceptance” event that seeks to bolster allyship in the country.

Retired South Africa Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron on May 16 will moderate a virtual panel that will focus on religion and anti-LGBTQ violence.

Workplace Pride and the Dutch Embassy in Budapest on May 17 will host a symposium on LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces in Hungary. M.V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, on the same day will participate in a webinar the U.S. Embassy in Singapore is hosting with Oogachaga, a local LGBTQ advocacy group.

Haver Srbija, a Serbian NGO, on May 15-16 will hold Falafel, a film festival that seeks to build “bridges and promotes Israeli, Jewish and LGBTQI culture and communities” and highlight “various social issues in the context of the fight against prejudice, discrimination, anti-Semitism, homophobia and xenophobia and encourages the audience to develop critical thinking on the issue of these topics.” Proud Lebanon is slated to hold a series of six webinars between May 17-22 that will focus on feminism, LGBTQ rights and other topics.

The National Center for Sexual Education in Cuba will hold a series of virtual forums and other events through the month to commemorate IDAHOBiT.

CENESEX Director Mariela Castro, whose father is former Cuban President Raúl Castro, during a May 4 press conference in Havana said the IDAHOBiT events are part of the process of amending the country’s family code to make it more equitable for LGBTQ Cubans. Mariela Castro said a bill to amend it will be introduced in the Cuban Parliament in July.

“I was able to appreciate that the majority of the population … is in favor of recognizing the rights of LGBTI+ people and especially the rights in the family sphere that include the possibility, the option, of marriage,” said Mariela Castro during the press conference, according to Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba.

IDAHOBiT commemorates the World Health Organization’s 1990 decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

This year’s events will take place against the backdrop of a pandemic that continues to exacerbate existing inequalities for LGBTQ people and other vulnerable groups around the world.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in dozens of countries. Violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation remains rampant in the U.S. and throughout the world.

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