Connect with us

homepage news

Fed’l religious freedom bill seen to enable anti-LGBT bias

Critics say measure would ‘open Pandora’s Box’ of discrimination



Mike Lee, Utah, Republican Party, United States Senate, CPAC, Conservative Political Action Conference, gay news, Washington Blade

Mike Lee, Utah, Republican Party, United States Senate, CPAC, Conservative Political Action Conference, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the First Amendment Defense Act. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

New legislation introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has the stated intent of protecting institutions that oppose same-sex marriage, but LGBT advocates are opposing it for what they say is the potential to go further and “open a Pandora’s Box” of anti-LGBT discrimination.

The bill, the First Amendment Defense Act, was introduced on Wednesday ahead of expected decision from the U.S. Supreme Court this month on whether same-sex couples have a right to marry across the country.

Proponents of the religious freedom legislation say it would prevent federal agencies from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license or certification to an individual, association or business based on their belief that marriage should be restricted to one man, one woman. For example, one stated intent of the bill is prohibiting the Internal Revenue Service from a removing a church’s tax-exemption status for refusing to perform same-sex weddings.

Lee said in a statement he introduced the Senate version of legislation because “there’s a reason the right to religious liberty appears first in our nation’s Bill of Rights.”

“The freedom to live and to act in accordance with the dictates of one’s conscience and religious convictions is integral to human flourishing, serving as the foundation upon which America has produced the most diverse, tolerant, and stable society the world has ever known,” Lee said. “The vast majority of Americans today still hold a robust view of religious liberty, yet across the country the right of conscience is threatened by state and local governments that coerce, intimidate, and penalize individuals, associations, and businesses who believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. The First Amendment Defense Act is necessary to ensure that this kind of government excess never occurs at the federal level.”

In the Senate, the bill has a total of 18 co-sponsors, all Republicans, including presidential candidates Ted Cruz (Texas), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.). Another Republican U.S. senator who’s a presidential candidate, but not a co-sponsor, is Rand Paul (Ky.). In the House, the bill has 57 co-sponsors, including one Democrat: Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill).

Similar religious freedom legislation was introduced during the 113th Congress by the same lawmakers and was known at the time as the Marriage & Religious Freedom Act.

Labrador said in a statement he introduced the House version of the bill because “America set the standard for upholding freedom of belief and worship in a diverse society.”

“No American should ever doubt these protections enshrined in the First Amendment,” Labrador said. “Our bill ensures that the federal government does not penalize Americans for following their religious beliefs or moral convictions on traditional marriage. Our bill shields against federal intrusion without taking anything away from anyone. In a shifting landscape, it’s time that Congress proactively defend this sacred right.”

But LGBT advocates oppose the legislation, saying it reaches beyond its stated purpose and, like controversial religious freedom measures in Indiana and Arkansas that were later scaled back, would similarly enable anti-LGBT discrimination, but at a national level.

Ian Thompson, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the legislation would “eviscerate” the executive order signed President Obama last year barring federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT bias in the workplace.

“This sweeping and dangerous bill would open a Pandora’s Box of taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex couples and their children,” Thompson said. “Attempting to wrap this discriminatory proposal in the language of the Bill of Rights does not change the reality of its attack on our national values of fairness and equal treatment under the law for all.”

David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, the legislation would “create a breakdown of government services and runaway litigation” and called on members of Congress to oppose the bill.

“Not only is it wrong to promote discrimination with taxpayers’ money, it’s even worse to allow those taxpayer funds to be used to reward discriminatory actions by federal employees,” Stacy said. “We call on members of Congress to oppose this reckless and irresponsible legislation that has nothing to do with the First Amendment and everything to do with taxpayer-funded discrimination. It’s time for Congress to prove they are not out of touch and to stand on the right side of history with the far majority of Americans who support fairness and equality for all Americans.”

The Human Rights Campaign in a statement cited numerous examples of discrimination that would be allowed if the bill became law:

* It would permit a federal employee to refuse to process tax returns, visa applications or Social Security checks whenever a same-sex couple’s paperwork appears on his or her desk.
* This legislation would also permit recipients of federal grants and contracts, including those for social services programs like homeless shelters and substance abuse treatment programs, to turn away LGBT people.
* It would allow any of these individuals or groups, or anyone else who believes they have been somehow required by the federal government to approve of married same-sex couples, to file a lawsuit and potentially receive damages from taxpayer money.

Continue Reading


  1. Foodahz

    June 21, 2015 at 1:26 am

    SCOTUS protects the first amendment just fine, and that’s who ultimately should. Churches getting away with paying no taxes no matter what they do is another matter…

    • GayEGO

      June 21, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Well said! Marriage Equality is a civil, equal right for ALL taxpaying American citizens which includes LGBTs. Marriage licenses are obtained at civil institutions, not churches.

    • RichieT

      February 26, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      The 1st Amendment

      “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”

      “Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion”
      A church

      “prohibiting the FREE exercise thereof
      Don’t have to pay taxes

  2. GayEGO

    June 21, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    If these religious bigots want to be looney-tunes their Freedom of Religion permits them to do that WITHIN their religion, not outside their religion. Our rights are inalienable and they are trying to force alienable, discriminatory bills against American citizens which includes taxpaying LGBTs.

    • Aaron

      August 27, 2015 at 10:25 am

      Can’t you see how this issue is framed!?!? THINK ABOUT IT IN AN OBJECTIVE WAY!!!! The LGBT movement is being compared to the civil rights movement and liberation of slavery. We are bigots, homophobes and intolerant just for disagreeing with what 60% of americans think. The ACLU is parading the issue around and suing just about everyone they want. It is illegal to deny services on the basis of race right? Yes!!!! It is!!!! Well now on a government level religious beliefs are no longer a valid reason for allowing another person to provide the exact same services innately tied with approval of gay unions. It won’t be long before all churches are forced to do the same. Churches can’t own slaves right? Of course they can’t!!!! Well then how can you allow them to deny someone a marriage guaranteed by the state? How can you claim it is discriminatory to opt out of one marriage license as a government official but not discriminatory for a priest to refuse to “marry” two individuals of the same sex? On what grounds are you guaranteeing me my Freedom of Religion “within my religion”? Honestly, that is why we are so worried, because the majority of liberals don’t stop the idealistic crusade of glittering generalities and insults long enough to even think intelligently about the situation. So I will ask again, please tell me how you can claim it is ok for my church to define marriage as the indissoluble union between a man and a woman but it is not ok for those same individuals to opt out of endorsing a gay union in a government setting when this issue is framed as a civil rights issue?

      • GayEGO

        August 28, 2015 at 3:31 pm

        I do not believe it is OK but I also do not force my beliefs on religions that disagree with me as it is up to the religions members to resolve that.

      • RichieT

        February 26, 2016 at 10:27 pm

        It will NOT apply to Churches. Try suing a Catholic church for denying you the right to get married a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time, good luck
        There’s a big difference between I can’t, and I don’t want to.

        Owning Slaves has nothing to do with religion.

        It also denied by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

  3. Jose

    June 23, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Lets face it, most people don’t like your life style and deviant nature. We may tolerate you but accept? No more than I accept any other deviant life style like a drug addict or habitual criminal.

    Religous-phobes in the LGBT community should understand that there are limits to their hysteria and absolute hatred toward other people’s opinions and beliefs, it will back-fire….where is the tolerance on your side? I find LGBT to be the most hate-filled and low self esteem people. That probably accounts for the large drug use among that group and abhorrent sexual behaviors that go above and beyond a normal homo-sexual act.

    Like the one times homo-sexual came to the emergency room with gerbil tunnel tubes stuck in their anus, actually had gerbils running between three so-called partners in the tubes to each other anuses. They mentioned this is common type behavior in their community…seriously? Demented doesn’t even explain, let alone the AIDS scourge they brought on that has killed millions.

    • samiinh

      June 23, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      Sick, sick, sick.

    • Derek Williams

      June 24, 2015 at 3:48 am

      Being gay isn’t my “viewpoint”, or a “lifestyle” like buying a new pair of fashionable shoes or living near the beach, it is the way I was born, and I can’t change it. But belonging to your religion that preaches contempt for what I am IS a choice that you have made. There are dozens of Christian religions (and quite a few Jewish synagogues) that you could have chosen from, such as Episcopalian, Prebyterian, Quaker, Unitarian, Metropolitan Community Church, that welcome LGBT parishioners with open arms, open hearts and open minds with full sacraments including communion, ordination to the clergy and same sex marriage.

      If I had been born heterosexual like you, then I would be attracted to the opposite sex like you are. However I am not you, and you are not me. You have no experience of being gay and therefore you cannot know for certain whether being gay was decision I made or not.

      Your “anal gerbils” story is a fiction, but even if it wasn’t, it has nothing to do with the overwhelming majority of law abiding LGBT citizens who actually DO pay tax to fund your kids’ education and welfare and to finance your church’s tax exempt litany of anti-gay rhetoric.

      Your story about LGBT “bringing the AIDS scourge” is another shameless lie. Isn’t telling lies a sin in your religion? Isn’t it a sin to judge others? None other then Jesus himself said so, and the Ten Commandments clearly state, “thou shalt not bear false witness”.

      While it’s true that in the West, gay men are still responsible for most of the HIV propagation, LGBT activism has helped educate the wider public and thus stop the disease from migrating into the heterosexual majority, so far. However that is not true in the wider world. Of 33.3 million AIDS cases worldwide, 15.9 million are female, and 2.6 million children, so it’s very clear that your heterosexuality will NOT protect you from HIV infection; only monogamy and safe sex will do that.

      African Americans account for only 14% of the US population, yet they account for over 40% of HIV/AIDS infections. It therefore makes no more sense to say that someone should not be gay in order to avoid infection, than it would to say that one should not be black, so as to avoid HIV/AIDS infection. A monogamous same sex couple is at no greater risk of spreading or catching STI’s like AIDS than a heterosexual monogamous couple. HIV/AIDS is an almost completely avoidable infection. The key is safe sex practice, monogamy – every reason to encourage gays to marry. Lesbians are at zero risk of HIV/AIDS, yet they are homosexuals too.

      • NYCLawyer1

        June 24, 2015 at 11:42 am

        No one should try to reason with a troll. Anyway, why is he reading an article in The Blade? Hmmm.

      • Jose

        June 24, 2015 at 1:31 pm

        Ok, sorry for your condition..good luck to you.

      • Aaron

        August 27, 2015 at 10:36 am

        OK, I am more mad than you at those banners because they make it sound like God hates people with same sex attraction. He DOES NOT!!! God loves you! At the same time as a catholic I sincerely believe that there is no love without truth and there are actions contrary to the nature of love as God created it. I know there is something SO MUCH MORE you are missing out on so I will speak out against such behavior but not against your dignity. If other Christians were lynching a gay person I would give my life to stop it but at the same time I would not approve of impure actions that often happen in homosexual relationships. The Church teaches it is not a sin to have such desires but it is a sin to act on them. The desires come from the fact that we live in a broken world but I promise you that they can be overcome by God’s grace

  4. Neal Feldman

    June 24, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    As usual this bill is nothing but a vehicle for discrimination and bigotry.

    Christians are the group both least likely to be discriminated against and persecuted, as well as the group most likely to discriminate against and persecute others, while also convincing themselves they are the most discriminated against and persecuted folks in the US.

    How this level of cognitive dissonance does not cause their heads to explode is a mystery of science. It seems to prove the existence of an actual binding force in the universe: Hypocrisy.

  5. Sean

    August 18, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Of course the ingrate Jim Crow loving dross at the Reichpublican Nazi Committee endorsed a bill that forces LGBT & pro-LGBT people to serve & employ anti-LGBT dross (because discrimination against religious belief is already illegal) while giving anti-LGBT the right put up no negr…. I mean gays signs. Of course the ingrate Jim Crow loving dross at the Reichpublican Nazi Committee endorsed a bill that would allow civil servants to bite the hand that feeds them by demanding LGBT Americans work our asses off to fill the bank acounts of these civil servants with our tax dollars yet they do not have to actually earn it. Jim Crow is alive and well in America. I’m done paying taxes & I am done serving & employing anti-LGBT dross & they better [email protected]$king accept it without crying “discrimination”. No Republicans allowed to buy my products; after all the government can’t force me to serve those who do not live as I demand, right, RIGHT???!!!

    • Sean

      August 18, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      “Christians” are not being persecuted by being required to adhere to the same anti-discrimination laws everybody else in America is required to adhere to regardless of their faith or no faith, race, age, orientation, ability etc. If LGBT people cannot refuse service or employment to anti-LGBT Christians (or other faiths) because discrimination against religious belief or affiliation is already illegal, then anti-LGBT’s cannot discriminate against us. The laws of this country are required BY LAW to be applied to ALL Americans equally or none at all. Jim Crow savagery of any kind will not be tolerated. Besides; there are LGBT & pro-LGBT Christians & under American law they are Christian if they so – not because you say so & not because the government says so.

      REAL persecution is the rape, torture, beating, dehumanizing & demonizing, terrorizing, imprisonment, silencing, hunting, and/or murder of LGBT adults, teens, & children just for living – as well as those perceived to be LGBT & straight people who support & protect their LGBT family, friends, & neighbors by Christians (as well as other faiths & no faith) not only in America but all over the world.

      The shooting, almost murder, of black heterosexual Rev. Dr. Augustus Sealy outside his LGBT-inclusive church last Memorial Day by some anti-gay swine shouting anti-gay slurs as the Rev. planted American flags in front of his church is persecution. The LGBT-inclusive church in Augusta, Georgia that was vandalized last week with the words “You’ll burn” along with anti-gay Bible scripture is persecution. The murder of 3yo Ronnie Paris Jr. by his Christian Bible Study student father who thought his 3yo son was gay is persecution. The gay couple shot with a BB-gun last year in Minnesota inside of a gay bar by a Christian shouting anti-gay Bible scripture is persecution. The 6 people stabbed by am Orthodox-Jewish terrorist at the 2015 LGBT Pride Parade in Jerusalem which resulted in 16yo straight ally Shari Banki dying/murdered by anti-LGBT filth. I could go on & on listing hundreds of events in which LGBT human beings were violently & deadly persecuted by Christians (as well as other faiths & no faith) in the last 7 months alone but you should have been able to get the point by now. Oh right, in the RNC’s mentally unstable minds being required to bake a cake, arrange flowers, take photos, etc one is fairly paid to do is equal to a gay teenage boy in Jamaica being hacked to death and set on fire by a so called “loving Christian”.

      • Sean

        August 18, 2015 at 7:33 pm

        “Whereas, Many on the Left exhibit an intensifying hatred and intolerance for gay marriage dissenters;”

        Oh you mean like blood thirsty, hate-filled, intolerant “gay marriage dissenters” such as:

        • Sean

          August 18, 2015 at 7:35 pm


          • Sean

            August 18, 2015 at 7:36 pm

            And continued:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

homepage news

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

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise



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.

Continue Reading

homepage news

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



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.

Continue Reading

homepage news

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.

Continue Reading

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts