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Dominican cardinal uses slur to describe gay U.S. ambassador

Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez made comment during interview



Wally Brewster, Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade
James Wally Brewster, United States Department of State, Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade

A Catholic cardinal in the Dominican Republic on Dec. 6, 2015, once again used an anti-gay slur to describe gay U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster. (Photo public domain)

A Catholic cardinal on Sunday once again used an anti-gay slur to describe the gay U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo described James “Wally” Brewster as a “faggot” during an interview with Hoy, a Dominican newspaper. López also said the gay ambassador wants to promote “faggotry” in the predominantly Catholic country.

“What are we going to become with such a thing, an ambassador who is a faggot,” López told Hoy. “He [Brewster] should go home, he does not have to bring anything here.”

López spoke to Hoy less than a week after he described Brewster — who is married to Bob Satawake — as a “wife” who “should stick to housework.”

Brewster and Satawake discussed the comments last week during an interview with a Dominican television station.

“We consider this as noise,” said Brewster, noting he and Satawake continue to fight drug trafficking in the Caribbean country. The two men also highlighted their support of businesses and human rights for people with HIV/AIDS and other marginalized groups in the Spanish-speaking nation. “We want to keep working on those things that are important.”

Cardinal previously used slur to describe ambassador

López in 2013 described Brewster as a “faggot” after President Obama nominated him to become the next U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic. The controversial cardinal has also described gay men as “degenerates,” among other things.

“The Catholic Church constantly rebukes us,” Stephanía Hernández, a transgender rights advocate, told the Washington Blade during a 2013 interview in Santo Domingo. “If you are gay, you’re discriminated against. If you’re trans, you’re discriminated against. If you’re poor, you’re discriminated against.”

The State Department on Tuesday defended Brewster.

“U.S. policy is dedicated to eliminating barriers to equality, fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and engaging LGBTI communities around the world,” spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala told the Blade in a statement that did not specifically mention López by name. “Ambassador Brewster, like all U.S. ambassadors, advances this policy along with many other aspects of our bilateral relationship. That there may be those opposed to the promotion of human rights in various societies around the world is not surprising, but it does underscore why this work is so important.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, an LGBT Catholic group, last week urged López to apologize for his comments against Brewster.

“On behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics and our allies in the United States, I am writing to object, in the strongest possible language, to your recent remarks calling U.S. Ambassador James Brewster a ‘wife’ who should ‘stick to housework.’” wrote Duddy-Burke in a letter. “These comments are disparaging to a fine public servant, insulting on many levels, and entirely unworthy of a Church official.”

The Archdiocese of Santo Domingo has yet to return the Blade’s request for comment.

Dominican advocates have credited Brewster and Satawake with raising visibility around LGBT issues, which includes efforts to increase the number of gay tourists who visit the country. Brewster’s ambassadorship also coincides with the more moderate tone towards homosexuality and other topics the Vatican has adopted since Pope Francis assumed the papacy in 2013.

The Vatican has yet to respond to the Blade’s request for comment on López’s comments.

Wally Brewster, Dominican Republic, gay news, Washington Blade

U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster, left, and his husband, Bob Satawake, at their official residence in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in June 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

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  1. Juan Jimenez Coll

    December 7, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    The best ambassador of the United States of all time in the Dominican Republic! A unique and wonderful human being! Blessings!

    • Titan

      December 9, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      Yeah, that’s how you guys describe gay people, “unique and wonderful human beings”, “fine” and “refined”, “exotic”. Gays deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, but not at the cost of changing our laws, culture and traditions tailored and designed to preserve the fundamental institutions upon which the rest of the world is founded, that is marriage and the family.

      • Steve Karper

        December 12, 2015 at 12:45 am

        tough but you lose, almost all of western europe, and in the western hemisphere Canada, the USA Mexico, argentina , uruguay , brazil allow gays to marry under civil law

        if you dont like it go to the soviet union where it wont happen re gays for a millenium, also saudi arabia where 15 of the 19 nutcases came from re 9-11

    • Steve Karper

      December 12, 2015 at 12:42 am

      teh dominican republic, where the so called gay conversion crap is moving and full of Jebus freaks

      Perhaps the cardinal should cum clean on how many sexual immature sexual predator sex starved priests he is hiding

      BTW he will probably appologize – the old game of saying something rotten and then after the media has moved onto tother story appologize, and almost no one will hear/ see the appology

    • Steve Karper

      December 12, 2015 at 1:40 am

      thank you.


    December 8, 2015 at 12:20 am

    Unbelievable. This needs to stop. He has tried to take him down way before his arrival. I believe that the embassador James Wally Brewster is doing a great job.

    • David Neftaly Castillo

      December 8, 2015 at 10:51 am

      No more discrimination, it has to stop, immature and offensive remarks like these from closed minded and ignorant people like the cardinal lopez rodriguez just spread the hate in the Dominican Republic and sinks us even more in the category of being a third world country, it just contributes to the slowdown of growth as a country, what about the human rights, what about the freedom of speech, expression, choice etc., it’s not even about religion, it’s about rights

  3. Hugh1

    December 8, 2015 at 12:22 am

    The Pope need to cleanout the stables.

    • Steve Karper

      December 12, 2015 at 12:48 am

      well he appologized for the molester biz. How about a million $$ per head for the kid victims of the sex starved priests
      SNAP- the survivors network of those abused by sex starved priests says there were 100,000 kids in the usa alone

      $100 billion and the catholic church would be a “will the last priest out the door pls turn offf the lights”

      BTW many polls show that for catholics under 30, 75-80% of them support marriage equality under civil law.

    • Steve Karper

      December 12, 2015 at 2:00 am

      hes trashed two bishops -the horrid Edmund burke of ST.louis and cardinal keith obrien who was actualy having sex with young church goers Ob’riens horrors resutledd in scotland voting for equal mariage 105 to 18 about a year ago

  4. MVByrne

    December 8, 2015 at 9:42 am

    I’m a gay American who lived in the DR for a while… I’m familiar with the Cardinal and his homophobic vitriol. He is also on record as saying some time ago that “pajaros” — the equivalent of “f*ggot” in Dominican slang — should be “hung in the town square.” A real soldier for Christ! I think it’s worth noting, and investigating, that Cardinal Rodriguez’s good friend for many years was the recently deceased DR’s Vatican Ambassador Wesolowski, who was under house arrest in the Vatican awaiting trial for pedophilia, and crimes he committed against Dominican boys during his years there. Given the insular nature and size of that circle of senior priests, there is absolutely no possibility that Rodriguez didn’t know about it, and may very well have participated. We all know that the more vocal and hateful these types are in deriding gay people, the more likely they are to be dealing with their own self-hatred and internalized homophobia. I hope Pope Francis will reevaluate this man’s position and retire him. I heard he was already out or about to be, so I was surprised to hear of his raising his ugly, bigoted head again. What gay people, and all marginalized people of faith in the DR need (and they are the majority) is a representative from the church who understands their plight, shows them unconditional love and support, and offers a safe haven, not an alleged man of God (nothing could be further from the truth) who aggressively spreads more hate and intolerance. Wally Brewster and husband Bob S. are the best thing to happen to the DR in a very long time… A gift from the US whether many don’t yet see it that way and maybe never will. They also deserve a similar gift from the Church when this bigoted old dinosaur goes away and he is replaced by a true man of God.

    • MH

      December 9, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Tu eligiste ser pajaro… naciste asi, es una preferencia sexual, por ende no es discriminacion. No queremos politica GAY en Republica Dominicana.

      • MVByrne

        December 9, 2015 at 10:06 pm


    • Ramon F Pichardo

      December 10, 2015 at 10:21 am

      There’s one thing you ignore, our cardinal was the one who travelled to the Vatican to inform the Pope about Wesolosky’s wrong behavior.

      • MVByrne

        December 10, 2015 at 12:12 pm

        That’s called “jumping the shark.” He knew the scandal was going to come to light so he thought he’d try to get ahead of the story so that people like you would think he wasn’t involved. How long did he know about it before he reported it? That’s the question. And the answer is that he knew for years… If he wasn’t directly involved in the abuse, which I think is highly likely, at the very least the Cardinal (aside from being a Godless, hateful, unholy bigot) is culpable by allowing the boys of his parish to be sexually abused by a pedophile priest. This not only makes him a criminal, but also makes him a de facto pedophile and sexual predator. He is an embarrassment to the Church and to the Dominican Republic.

    • atheistcable

      December 11, 2015 at 8:42 am

      May I remind you, MVByrne, that hatred of gay people does indeed come from both the Old Testament and the New. Severe homophobia is an indelible part of Christian tradition and teachings.

      I don’t see how one can separate homophobia from the Christian religion and still maintain a Christian religion. The purpose of religion is to shame and oppress somebody. This is why more and more people are becoming atheists. We don’t need a religion to teach us to love our neighbour. That comes naturally. Religion is needed to justify hatred.

      • MVByrne

        December 11, 2015 at 11:03 am

        One sees what one chooses to see in any religious doctrine… If you are a hateful, bigoted person by nature, that’s what you’re going to be drawn to. The bible is a manifesto of insane proclamations, bigotry, bizarre ideas and horrific violence, but strangely, not without some wisdom. I agree that Christianity, as a religion, often gets it wrong. In fact probably most of the time… Many Christians have simply been indoctrinated since childhood and are without the intellectual capacity to escape and abide by the church almost out of habit. They’re harmless for the most part. But many more hide behind their religion because they are too cowardly to admit that they are just selfish, hateful, narrow-minded, bigoted people who use their church to feel superior to others, and who, at their core, feel inferior and afraid… Bigotry is about tearing down other people so you can feel superior, and not having to face your own inadequacies, your own toxic self-loathing, and whatever other demons haunt you. But I disagree that homophobia is indelible in the Christian religion. True Christians rise above that simple-minded, hate fueled stupidity. Although raised Catholic, I don’t identify as a Christian. I do however adhere as best I can to the basic tenants of the teachings of Christ, namely “love thy brother as thyself”, and “judge not, lest you be judged.” I do not however anticipate a judgment day. I’m not afraid of God. I live with that mindset because that is my human instinct and it’s what makes me feel good about myself and others.To be a good person simply means living by the golden rule… It’s a shame more “religious” people, Christian or otherwise, can’t embrace that… “Above all else, love.”

      • Steve Karper

        December 12, 2015 at 2:49 am

        a few years ago 2 orthodox in the Israeli knesset (parliament) caalled gays “worse then bird flu”

        After a lot of thought I mailed a letter to theirs offices telling them that their pixs was on the Hamas and Hezbola websites as the jews who wanted to throw all the Palestinians into the sea.I bet he lost 20 pounds as his digestive sytem went to warp speed

        for the kkkrazy ranters at DC pride a made a cross out of two sex toys, waved it around etc. the kids loved it,the rantrs having a fiit

        as the laughter died down I gave it oraln sex. thrilling the kids and hopefully preventing more suiicides

        Next year, bigger and badder to drive the ranters KKKrazy

    • Steve Karper

      December 12, 2015 at 2:36 am

      I found a oix on the web of santorum (sanitarium) with his mouth replaced by an anus

      Sadly my old Photoshop wont run on windows 7

      scanning the web on sanatarium, there is so much about how orrid he is

      He’s dumb as a rock. Rachel maddow had him on MSNBC and he spilled all kinds of hared on gay peoplke , hopefully creasing more acceptance for marrge” =

  5. Tony Sotomayor

    December 8, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    I am appalled at the remark of this Cardinal. In which planet does this man live? These are times where tolerance, moderation and reconciliation is being worked all over the world. Simply, this venom cannot be tolerated. The dominican people should raise their voice. It is well known the association of Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez with the Nuncio Wesolowsky who abused dozens of poor children in this poor island and we are certain that this Cardinal has been protected by the corrupted officials and the corrupt justice of this country without paying the price, no doubt. We hope Pope Francis hear our sincere prayers and be the instrument of peace of this abused country and ban Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez from the public spectrum forever. The dominican people deserve better before more damage gets done. Enough is enough.

  6. newtosf921

    December 8, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Could someone explain to me what “faggotry” is and what effects it would have on a community?!?!?

  7. yasmin

    December 8, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    It’s a shame that people are still discriminating and is a big problem. There’s also a bigger problem the corruption that is happening in my beautiful country. The corruption in our country is circle that includes the politicians and the church sorry to say no I’m not sorry.

    • Steve Karper

      December 12, 2015 at 1:16 am

      What has happend in latin america is that the churches (cath and shristian0 wanted power and joined the corrupt govts to get it

      now the people – a great majoority is some countries have rejected the churches and gays can marry in brazil, argentina , uruguay, mexico and a couple other nations

      The situation in columbia is ocnfused, their suppreme court ruled that marriage registrars must register marriages for gay people, but their senate said no by a big majority

      a reinfocing decison from columbiias supreme court is expected shortly

      see l

      another horror show for the pope, after catholic Ireland voted62% for rmarriage= last may 15

  8. Dem Moore

    December 8, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    A house wife….

  9. Dem Moore

    December 8, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    That was so funny to me….bad boy smh

  10. AFROCARIBEÑO(Jaime Soto)

    December 8, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    Ambassador Brewster is fighting against corruption and discrimination of minorities in DR soil.
    Most of good dominicans endorse him.

    • Titan

      December 9, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      “Most good Dominicans”, in other words, Mr. Soto, less than the majority of Dominicans who oppose and are against same sex marriages and gay rights, being that the DR is mainly a Christian country.

      • AFROCARIBEÑO(Jaime Soto)

        December 9, 2015 at 7:11 pm

        So You mean most dominicans are homophobics?

        • Titan

          December 9, 2015 at 7:25 pm

          That’s what you said, Mr. Soto.

          • AFROCARIBEÑO(Jaime Soto)

            December 9, 2015 at 7:28 pm

            Most good dominicans endorse Brewster,that means majorities.

          • Titan

            December 9, 2015 at 7:53 pm

            And who told you most Dominicans are good?

          • AFROCARIBEÑO(Jaime Soto)

            December 9, 2015 at 8:01 pm

            C’mon Titan, am dominican; I know my people, b/c few radical religous individuals are homophobics and haitians haters , thouse do no represent majorities.

          • Titan

            December 9, 2015 at 8:03 pm

            My point is that most Dominicans don’t hate Haitians, but they don’t agree with illegal Haitians immigration. Understand the difference?

          • AFROCARIBEÑO(Jaime Soto)

            December 9, 2015 at 8:31 pm

            I do not agree with your point of view.

          • Titan

            December 9, 2015 at 8:44 pm


          • AFROCARIBEÑO(Jaime Soto)

            December 9, 2015 at 8:39 pm

            You forgot corruption issue
            Ambassador Brewster and the United states gov. are very concerned about that.

          • Titan

            December 9, 2015 at 8:43 pm

            Yes, and I thank him for condoning and speaking out against corruption in our country, but he should go somewhere else with his pro gay campaign. He has to respect our stance on the issue.

          • AFROCARIBEÑO(Jaime Soto)

            December 9, 2015 at 8:55 pm

            His pro gay campaign is not my bussiness.

          • MVByrne

            December 10, 2015 at 12:19 pm

            Nobody has to respect your idiotic, bigoted, discriminatory “stance on the issue”! And certainly not an envoy from the United States of America! How about we send you Donald Trump?! Sounds to me like he’s a guy you could support. Except he hates Blacks and Latinos… so maybe not a good idea?

          • Titan

            December 12, 2015 at 8:03 am

            In fact, I support Donald because I support Conservatism everywhere. He just might be what the Dr. recommended for this nation owes, regardless of his personal feelings and opinions towards Blacks and Latinos.

          • MVByrne

            December 12, 2015 at 9:36 am

            First of all, who cares who you support in the US presidential election? You’re not an American. Secondly, Donald Trump is not a conservative, he’s a radical. And he couldn’t care less about you because you are brown and from a Third World Latin country. In his eyes you are a rapist and/or a drug smuggler. And thirdly, you’re an idiot.

          • atheistcable

            December 11, 2015 at 8:32 am

            It would help the DR and the world if we DID alter the definition of marriage. Are we about preserving a definition, but punishing human beings? I think we can redefine, and we must redefine, marriage as a commitment between two loving people. But am sure you do not think that two men can love one another the same as two opposite-sex individuals.

          • Titan

            December 12, 2015 at 8:27 am

            This is where I lost my respect for this ambassador and gay advocates: He comes to DR as an official who promotes democracy, peace and “progress”, among other things, yet look at the kind of unhealthy behavior he’s helping to encourage and to propagate. What do you have to say about anal intercourse? Do you think that’s a healthy practice, penetrating the anus, causing the immunologic damage and tearing or bruising of the anal wall? Think of this. Rectal intercourse is arguably one of the surest way to spread hepatitis B, HIV syphilis and other blood diseases. Unlike the vagina, the anus doesn’t have lubrication and is full feces, which combined with saliva (artificial lubricant), feces, semen and the germs contained in the saliva is a habitat for death and it’s against human health. I’m sure you all know and practice these things at your own peril. So, to most of us, it’s just unacceptable that this ambassador is trying to be an advocate for good while encouraging bad health habits, because, in the end, that’s what he’s doing and that’s what it’s all about.

          • atheistcable

            December 12, 2015 at 8:55 am

            Your ignorance is astonishing. I happen to be gay and I happen not to engage in anal intercourse or fellatio. Have you ever heard of masturbation? But, for those who do engage in anal intercourse, do they have condoms in DR?

            In addition, you have no concept of sexual orientation. You seem to think that it’s simply a matter of sticking one’s penis into a vagina or anus. Like it’s just a mechanical process with no emotions or other mental processes. Gay men are not sexually aroused by women. So, in your mind, you would say: “Then let them be celibate.” Sorry, that will never, never happen. Gay men are not going to observe close relationships amongst heterosexuals, whilst being celibate.

            This is why same-sex marriage is all the more necessary: To foster commitment and discourage sexual promiscuity.

            I don’t hear you criticising Lesbians. So, would you allow equal marriage for Lesbians?

          • Titan

            December 12, 2015 at 9:20 am

            Go read the statistics and check out for the % of gays who have anal sex, the number of sexual partners they average and how many times they do it in a year, actually every six months. And the argument against lesbians is no different. Do you think many lesbian don’t have anal sex simply because they have a vagina? You know better. and, in fact, the argument against same sex is the same for both: it’s against christianity and society, unnatural. God prohibited same sex unions. Period. And when someone prohibits you something you don’t questions his or her authority, you simply obey. But no, our society what’s to reason with God (nature) through naturalism and liberalism, in order to challenge his authority.

          • atheistcable

            December 12, 2015 at 10:11 am

            Fact is: there is no such thing as a “god”. So all arguments involving an imaginary god are invalid.
            Fact is: Homosexuality is natural for humans and about 1,500 species of animals.

            It seems that you are like a Muslim, you want to force your religion, thru legislation and the police force, upon others. I love this: “And when someone prohibits you something you don’t questions his or her authority, you simply obey.” That’s quite amusing.

            Looks like you’re going to be an increasingly angry person as more and more people are leaving religious dogma and setting themselves free to love whomever they wish.

          • Titan

            December 12, 2015 at 10:25 am

            That’s your argument, “there is no such thing as a god”, to prove the inexistence of God? If you heed the tone of my voice, you’ll notice that it’s not personal and free of hate. It’s, after all, for your own good.

          • Titan

            December 9, 2015 at 8:00 pm

            How you know that? Did you conduct a poll?

          • Steve Karper

            December 12, 2015 at 3:07 am

            at least he didnt put his finger up his butt like you prob did to find out about gay people and rights

        • Titan

          December 9, 2015 at 7:27 pm

          Last time I checked, Christian is not a synonym of homophobia.

          • AFROCARIBEÑO(Jaime Soto)

            December 9, 2015 at 7:31 pm

            But been against same sex marriage is equal to be homophobics!

          • Titan

            December 9, 2015 at 7:56 pm

            No, being against homosexuals is homophobic. I’m against same sex marriage and don’t accept homosexuality, which are two different things. Same sex marriage is not the same as being homosexual, Jaime.

          • AFROCARIBEÑO(Jaime Soto)

            December 9, 2015 at 8:27 pm

            That is a religous statement, same sex marriage is about legal rights for spouses,not matter wether they are male or female.
            I am not gay but understand others people rights.

          • Titan

            December 9, 2015 at 8:47 pm

            Of course, it is!

          • atheistcable

            December 11, 2015 at 8:28 am

            Now wait a minute. If you’re not against homosexuals, but you’re against them marrying who they love, that’s a contradiction. And then to say that same-sex marriage is misguided, bent, malformed–wow, that’s about as homophobic as one can get. Yes, you are a true Christian!

          • Titan

            December 11, 2015 at 11:12 am

            It’s not. Marriage is an institution, independently of a person being gay or heterosexual. And that list of things I mentioned are part of a definition and doesn’t mean I’m being homophobic. You have to learn how to conceptualize. I, like most people, don’t agree with that kind of lifestyle exactly because of what you called me.

          • Steve Karper

            December 12, 2015 at 12:58 am

            y ou have the right to rant on and make a fool of y ourself titan

            BTW titan thinks he is big and powerful. the definitian of titan is

            Titan : one of a family of giants in Greek mythology

            he’s also entitled to his MYTH-eology

          • Steve Karper

            December 12, 2015 at 3:05 am

            keep hating and making a fool of yourself. For you and your kind, too bad the romans ran out of lions long ago but I do have a hungry similar tiger for you

            back when intel corp got in trouble re competition they had “operation crushs” that esesntially drove the competition into obscurity

            here is the music, and they actually had an enomous guy with a magnum walk down the ilse with a 400# monster tiger

            your being crushed re y our ideas all over the westernized world


            BTW intel was one of the first to offer partner benefits eg medical care to gay employees partners

          • Steve Karper

            December 12, 2015 at 12:56 am

            depends, in the usa two of the most horrrific anit gay groups are christian extremists, eg the american family association and the family research council –
            both are filled with haters, basically racist with a new group to hate check nad

  11. MH

    December 9, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    I dont know why you feeling so bad about the cardinal he just said the trust.
    No se porque ustedes se siente tan ofendido, el cardinal solo dijo la verdad, que el embajador de Estados Unidos es GAY, y que como Mujer que es que vaya a atender su Marido…..James Wally vino a Republica Dominicana a representar el pueblo de los Estados Unidos, la labor anticorrupcion que realizar es buena………..pero peor aun es la agenda GAY que tiene James en RD, desde auspiciar el matrimonio GAY y la Promocion GAY cada vez que puede…..Fuera el Embajador, necesitamos un mejor representante de USA.

  12. JackNasty

    December 10, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Seriously, a corrupt, little man who wears a red dress and matching hat attempted to insult a US Ambassador by telling him to go and pretend to be a woman?

    The irony couldn’t get any richer.

  13. Steve Karper

    December 12, 2015 at 1:41 am

    BTWe ven GOP repubs are recognizing how far the repubs have run off the rails

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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



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



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



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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