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Trans veteran to take a stand at Pentagon Pride

Swokowski wants to draw attention to prohibition on open service

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Sheri Swokowski, gay news, Washington Blade
Sheri Swokowski, gay news, Washington Blade

Sheri Swokowski (Photo courtesy of Sheri Swokowski)

Amid preparations to celebrate Pride next month, a transgender veteran plans to take the opportunity to make a subtle, but potentially powerful statement for the 15,500 troops in the U.S. military who are forced to hide their gender identity.

Sheri Swokowski, who served as an infantry soldier for nearly 34 years as she presented as male, plans to wear a female Army Service Uniform with an infantry gold-crossed rifle insignia at the upcoming annual Pride event at the Pentagon on June 9.

“I hope to be a visible voice for those 15,500 folks that are forced to serve in silence and sacrificing their own authenticity to do that,” Swokowski said in an interview with the Washington Blade. “So I will be in the audience and SECDEF is going to be the keynote speaker. I don’t know if he will notice, but I’m sure along with other people along the route, they will certainly witness something they haven’t seen before.”

Swokowski, who transitioned after she retired from service, said just last month the Defense Department issued her updated DD-214 discharge papers identifying with her current female name. She’s among numerous transgender veterans who received updated paperwork from the Pentagon that corresponds with their gender identity.

Despite a recent change in policy, the Army infantry doesn’t yet officially admit women. But because of her change in paperwork, Swokowski said the Army is admitting that women have served in the infantry all along. She said she’ll be the first infantry female to legitimately wear an Army service uniform in the halls of the Pentagon.

Swokowski said she plans intends to draw attention to the U.S. military’s continued policy of banning transgender people from serving openly in the armed forces.

“Those 15,500 folks that are currently serving deserve to be recognized, deserve to be allowed to be authentic and deserve medically necessary treatment that they require,” Swokowski said.

Due to a medical regulation set in place before 1980, transgender troops are prohibited from serving openly in the armed forces under DOD Instruction 6130.03, which calls for separation of service members who undergo gender reassignment or have “psychosexual conditions” that include transvestitism or transsexualism.

An estimated 15,500 transgender people are serving in silence in the military because of the policy barring them from being open about their gender identity, and another 134,000 veterans identify as transgender, according to a 2014 report from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Swokowski, who’s 64 and now lives near Madison, Wis., said the continuation of the policy in the U.S. military is “distressing” and recalled her own difficulty keeping silent about her gender identity during her tenure in the armed forces.

“I did a few things correctly or well to make the best out of active duty, but I often wonder how much better a person and non-commissioned officer I would have been had I been allowed to transition while in service as part of the military instead of surpressing all of those feelings and not being authentic,” Swokowski said.

Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, a Defense Department spokesperson, had no comment on Swokowski’s plan to draw attention to the military’s transgender ban during the Pentagon Pride event.

It won’t be the first time Swokowski has attended a Pride event at the Pentagon, which began in 2012, after the lifting of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Previously, Swokowski has attended wearing civilian garb.

After she retired as an Army infantry officer in 2004 and started to transition, Swokowski took a job in 2007 as a lead course instructor at U.S. Army Force Management School at Ft. Belvoir, Va. But, as previously reported, Swokowski was terminated from her position after she went public with her plans to transition.

In 2009, then-Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who before being elected U.S. senator represented Swokowksi as a U.S. House member, drew on her termination during a Senate committee hearing as a reason to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“To hear Sheri tell her story is heartbreaking,” Baldwin said at the time. “She knows she was qualified for the position, but she also recognizes that her former employer didn’t see her as Sheri – they only saw her gender identity. The sad reality is that Sheri’s life and her livelihood would be different today if ENDA were the law of the land.”

But Swokowski said her termination at Ft. Belvoir inspired her to undertake the role as an advocate and she visits Capitol Hill multiple times each year to promote transgender issues.

“Transgender people are different than the sex assigned at birth, but that doesn’t mean we are different when it comes to society,” Swokowski said. “We frankly mirror society. We’re doctors, lawyers, commercial airline pilots, athletes, engineers, high-ranking government officials in addition to soldiers, sailor and Marines.”

Following her termination at Ft. Belvoir, Swokowski said she obtained a new civilian position as a senior analyst for the assistant chief of staff for installation management, an experience she described as “entirely positive,” saying she was known for her skills and not her gender identity.

“If I can do that in the Pentagon as a civilian, we can sure as heck do that in the military as well,” Swokowski said.

Denny Meyer, a spokesperson for the Transgender American Veterans Association, said his organization “absolutely” supports Swokowski’s effort “100 percent.”

“She is fully qualified to do this,” Meyer said. “She served in the infantry. She’s a legitimate infantry retired officer. She earned every bit of it, including whatever medals she pins on to her uniform. And her DD-214 has her current, new name and so it’s entirely proper. And as a retired colonel, she has too much respect for the uniform to do anything improper. If there was any question about it, she wouldn’t do it.”

Meyer said most people probably won’t realize Swokowski is making a statement during the Pentagon Pride event because of the subtlety of her effort.

“The infantry symbol is almost an unnoticeable little thing of gold-crossed [rifles],” Meyer said. “It’s almost unnoticeable as far as the rest of the uniform goes in comparison to all the medals. Only someone who knows what it means would notice it and go, ‘Oh, infantry officer.'”

Both Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and the White House have expressed an openness to the idea of openly transgender service in the U.S. military, but so far no direct steps have been taken to review the policy or to lift it. Instead, the Pentagon has stated it is conducting a routine, periodic full-range review of medical regulations. Although it isn’t specific to transgender service, it may encompass the military ban.

One exception to the inaction on the ban on transgender military service is a new Army policy raising the authority to discharge service members for being transgender to a senior civilian official, the assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs. To date, none of the other services has announced they’re implementing a similar policy. Upon announcing the policy in March, the Army stated it would expire in 12 months.

Noting that the American Psychological Association didn’t remove gender identity disorder as a mental condition until 2012, Swokowski said she thinks the general ban remains in place for the U.S. military because “we’re still fighting the stigma about being transgender.”

“We need to change that way of thinking; we people to understand this is a medical condition deserving of treatment,” Swokowski said. “In reality, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association didn’t conclude that until 2011 being trans is a medical condition. It’s probably not unusual for society in general to be playing catch up for three, four, five years.”

Swokowski said she’s unsure whether the administration will lift the ban on transgender before the end of President Obama’s second term, but she remains hopeful.

“I certainly hope for the sake of those 15,500 transgender service members serving in the active and reserve component that this happens much quicker than later,” Swokowski said. “I recognize and applaud DOD for initiating the medical retention standards [review], but this really needs to be put on a fast track. Every day is important for those 15,000 service members who continue to serve in silence.”

In the meantime, Swokowski said she hopes her decision to stand out during the upcoming Pentagon Pride event will have some impact on moving things forward.

“If, at the end of the day, my experience can help just one person lead an authentic life, then I consider that a success,” she said.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Lez Chat

    May 26, 2015 at 3:44 pm

  2. JamieSays

    May 27, 2015 at 12:56 am

    Thank you Sheri Swokowski!

  3. Let Trans Serve

    May 27, 2015 at 10:11 am

    HI Sheri! Great doings! I too am a former USAF Security/Military police NCO (E-5) with only a 4 yr + 2 reserve tour of duty. I too grew up not understanding why my body didn’t match. I too have been fired from a job…only days after coming out and days after having been hired. It affected me so much that I’ve been out of work for 5 years, having lost hope.

  4. lar

    June 1, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Two things, first; where did they come up with 15,000 service members that are trans? During the entire DADT period of what, 15 years or so. They discharges about the same amount of people that they discovered to be LGB. As a service member myself, I don’t see that many potential LGB persons currently serving let alone trans members waiting to transition. I see that number as highly inflated. Until there is an accurate survey, that number is just an estimate.
    Secondly; she was quoted as saying she could have been a better Non-commisioned officer if she had been aloud to transition while she was in but someone also referred to her as a colonel. Which is it as an NCO will never make Colonel and a colonel will never be an NCO.

  5. Straight and Proud

    June 28, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    We need to petition for a Straight Pride Month where straight conservatives have their say in how they want to live, be treated and the rights they “deserve”, in addition to promoting the fact that we are now marginalized as less important. If the US Military supports gay pride..then I want my STRAIGHT PRIDE MONTH supported, too. But oh, no..the left won’t have it…it would hurt someone’s feelings. I am sick and tired of hearing about it and never thought I would hate rainbows. Those that support the gay lifestyle should hold that same standard for all, not just themselves. Maybe the laws should be changed so that they can have everything they want…maybe they will then go away and we can all live peacefully. That will never happen, though.

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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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