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Trump gives conditional support for ‘religious freedom’ bill

2016 hopeful says he would sign First Amendment Defense Act

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Donald Trump, Values Voter Summit, gay news, Washington Blade

Donald Trump, Values Voter Summit, gay news, Washington Blade

Donald Trump has given conditional support for the First Amendment Defense Act. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Donald Trump has largely avoided attacks on LGBT people during his presidential campaign unlike other minority groups, but he’s now given conditional support for a religious freedom bill seen to enable anti-LGBT discrimination.

The Republican presidential candidate offered his qualified support for the First Amendment Defense Act in a letter published last week by The Pulse, a conservative media outlet.

“If Congress considers the First Amendment Defense Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment,” Trump writes.

The letter was written to the American Principles Project, a social conservative group calling on 2016 candidates to sign a pledge agreeing to push for passage of the First Amendment Defense Act within 100 days of office. Six candidates — Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum — signed the pledge, but Trump instead for the first time signaled conditional support for the legislation in the letter.

In the missive, Trump outlines his expected approach to religious freedom if he were to occupy the White House. Making the point the president cannot pass legislation, Trump says he would “certainly sign legislation that protects religious liberty for all.”

Possibly alluding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of same-sex marriage, Trump says the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment are in “a clear conflict.”

Referencing Section 5 of the 14th Amendment, Trump says Congress, not the courts, have the authority to enforce that provision of the U.S. Constitution.

“The priorities that the next president will need to establish are not known at this time,” Trump writes. “Protection of the nation and its citizens must come first. Getting the economy back on track must be near the top of the list. Preserving and protecting the rights of our citizens must also be in the mix.”

The Trump campaign didn’t respond to repeated requests from the Washington Blade to confirm or deny the veracity of the letter.

Maggie Gallagher, senior fellow at the American Principles Project Foundation, affirmed this week on EWTN, a Catholic news agency, that Trump has given conditional support for the First Amendment Defense Act.

“Donald Trump at least said that he would not veto the legislation, but he would not commit to passing it,” Gallagher said.

The First Amendment Defense Act — introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) in the U.S. House and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the U.S. Senate — on its face prohibits the federal government from taking action against individuals who oppose same-sex marriage, although “individuals” is defined broadly in the bill to include for-profit businesses.

Critics say the legislation would go further and enable anti-LGBT discrimination — as well as potential bias against single mothers and unmarried couples. Among other things, it would allow government workers to refuse to process paperwork from same-sex couples, such as tax forms and applications, in addition to compromising President Obama’s executive order barring federal contractors from engaging in anti-LGBT bias.

Even before signing the pledge, Cruz and Huckabee affirmed they would make passage of the legislation a priority in their first 100 days during separate interviews on EWTN.

According to the American Principles Project, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham — before he dropped out — also signaled they would support the First Amendment Defense Act without the signing. Republicans who refused to comment on whether they support the bill were Chris Christie, John Kasich, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore. None of the Democratic presidential candidates — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley — affirmed support for the bill.

Brandon Lorenz, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said Trump’s position on the First Amendment Defense Act “is deeply troubling.”

“It is a reminder to voters across the country of how important it is to elect a pro-equality president in 2016,” Lorenz added.

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, shrugged off the letter, saying in the end it demonstrates why the First Amendment Defense Act won’t become law.

“I’ve said time and again that FADA is a non-starter in its current form; any chance it has of making it to the president’s desk — any president’s desk — would come only after significant amendment,” Angelo said. “In that light, Mr. Trump’s stated deferment of the legislation to congressional leadership makes prospects for FADA passage in a hypothetical Trump administration all the more unlikely.”

Over the course of his campaign, Trump has attacked Mexican immigrants, black activists, Muslims, women and the disabled, but hasn’t made a point of targeting the LGBT community. Even though he’s said he doesn’t favor same-sex marriage, Trump hasn’t made objections to LGBT rights a significant component of his campaign. (In fact, he said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” people shouldn’t be fired for being gay.)

Angelo denied Trump’s letter represents a shift toward targeting the LGBT community, saying the bigger picture is he and other candidates refused to sign the pledge.

“After a 2012 election cycle that was marred in many respects as ‘the primary of pledges,’ where demands were made of GOP presidential candidates to add their name to all sorts of anti-gay promissory notes, it’s encouraging to see the preponderance of the candidates in this cycle refusing to literally sign away their hopes of attaining this nation’s highest office by making outlandish promises to placate a overzealous fringe of the Party,” Angelo said.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. lnm3921

    December 23, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Given that Congress is controlled by the GOP, passage of a religious freedom bill has a good chance. Heck they wasted alot of time voting repeatedly to repeal Obamacare despite knowing that Obama would veto it, why wouldn’t they waste time on this?

    As I’ve always said, you can’t trust a GOP Presidential candidate. None will commit to support GLBT freedom and equality. That speaks volumes.

    The fact Trump won’t defend GLBT freedom and equality and is open to signing a religious freedom bill should tell you all you need to know! Vote GOP and you screw yourself and not in a pleasant way!

    • Brian's Ions

      December 24, 2015 at 6:55 am

      Chris concisely noted ‘the Donald status’ on LGBT rights. And it’s not really surprising. Trump is a New Yorker, after all– and a former Democrat, I think.

      Anyway, the Empire State arrived at Marriage Equality through a popular, political state process. That’s an important distinction for many, if not most Republican voters. And it is a ‘fact on the ground’ that certainly isn’t lost on any Republican pol of stature.

      Likewise, SCOTUS’ landmark Marriage Equality decision this year– which was decided by, and written by a solid Republican jurist, Justice Anthony Kennedy, has not been lost in the GOP ether. And what Republican politician is not aware that big time *conservative* Republican Ted Olson is also a robust supporter of Marriage Equality?

      So, I think Angelo’s assessment of the shifting political sands in the wacky GOP field is pretty accurate, too. Of course, that is very much steered by Trump’s dominance of GOP voter support at this point.

      The truth is LCR has had little but Republican Party ‘tea leaf’ minutia to read– for virtually all of its existence. So they’re pretty good at it.

      And it is good for all LGBTs that Republican LGBT activists have found a credible place in the GOP’s overstretched “big tent.”

      As an American Democrat, I don’t really want my party’s best candidates to be challenged by little more than lightweight bigots of a political party with fringe support.

      IMHO, the Democratic Party and its leadership develop better ideas and is made stronger by thoughtful, credible conservative opposition.

      The GOP circus tent– now filled with too many bigots– has become too wild and too unmanageable. It has been ripping apart for some time, now. Hopefully national Republicans like Ryan, Kasich and even Christie can, with the help of LCR, help stitch together a credible successor to a once honorable political party.
      ————-
      **
      Over the course of his campaign, Trump has attacked Mexican immigrants, black activists, Muslim, women and the disabled, but hasn’t made a point of targeting the LGBT community. Even though he’s said he doesn’t favor of same-sex marriage, Trump hasn’t made objections to LGBT rights a significant component of his campaign.**

      • lnm3921

        December 24, 2015 at 11:45 am

        Kennedy maybe conservative on some issues but would be described as liberal on gay issues. All the other 4 conservatives on the court wrote dissenting opinions against a constitutional right to marriage equality. Was that lost by you? Besides Kennedy is not running for office!

        LRC like most gay GOP supporters are no more than lap dogs that roll over and wag their tails for any bone of attention from party leaders. I’ve seen several post on the blade that show nothing but contempt for our struggles for equality. Some have said they oppose a federal equality act and that we should move on now that we have marriage equality as if that is our only issue of concern.

        Just because trump has not bashed glbt Americans during his campaign doesn’t mean he won’t. He simply has not had the need so far. He’s bashed several others for political gain and showmanship so why should we be an exemption? No GOP contender including trump is promoting our welfare openly! The social conservatives will not tolerate it and they need their approval to get the nomination. Get a grip Pollyanna!

        I have no trust in republican politicians.

        • Brian's Ions

          December 24, 2015 at 2:42 pm

          I understand. You are very much the angry LGBT Democratic “base” voter demographic that Hillary (or Bernie or Martin) want to “stir” to go vote in the general next November.

          Every warm body is important, because getting to 270 in the general is a matter of winning enough winner-takes-all states. Trump (et al), conversely, will want you to stay home in protest– or jump ship and vote Trump.

          But politics is both art and science. And it does not end with the final election of a cycle. Rather, a new two-year cycle begins the day after that election.

          For LGBTQ civil rights in 2017, that will mean persuading congressman and senators of both parties to vote for a comprehensive LGBT national civil rights bill.

          Shouldn’t the larger task of good Democrats be to civilly *persuade* Republicans and Independents to the urgent need for such a law?

          Shouldn’t LGBT Dems, too, want GOP anti-LGBT bigots to stay home– and pro-LGBT and equal-rights Republicans to vote for Hillary?

          You missed my larger point in my last post. Many Republican leaders and registered voters have always favored LGBT civil rights. That’s not Pollyannish. It’s just an historic and political fact you’d rather not admit.

          Why not try to persuade them to (1) jump ship and become registered Democrats this year, or (2) vote for Democrats next November, or (3) vote with their feet by staying home?

          • lnm3921

            December 24, 2015 at 3:05 pm

            First of all, I often find myself voting for the lesser of two evils. It’s not that dems are necessarily so much better only that republicans are so much worse on our issues.

            Nancy pelosi and Harry Reid squandered an opportunity to get all our bills up for a vote when they had control of congress and we have a sitting president willing to approve them with excuses!

            John boehner wouldn’t allow ENDA to get a fair up and down vote in the house saying there was no need for such legislation. Do you honestly expect to fair any better with Ryan or McConnell in controll of congress who have never supported us?

            Face it, except for hate crimes and ending DADT, all our gains have been through the judiciary!

            Those of us going through this for decades know the score and the reality. You go try and win over a party that still refuses to change its platform to endorse our civil rights and promote them rather than oppose them in particular over religious freedom grounds.

            Whether or not a majority supports our rights now seems irrelevant to a vocal and influential group of social conservatives who will do everything to block us from achieving them. They will demand the GOP leadership not support us and threaten to splinter off their support if the GOP does! The GOP cares more about that than us!

          • Brian's Ions

            December 24, 2015 at 4:21 pm

            We agree on many things. And when we don’t, I always enjoy the joust, Inm.
            ;)
            Have a merry couple of days, however you observe them. Cheers!

          • lnm3921

            December 24, 2015 at 6:27 pm

            Same to you!

            Have to break up the daily monotony somehow,

          • Brian's Ions

            December 27, 2015 at 11:40 am

            Hey, don’t worry about Trump– unless the Prez and Comey can not interdict what evil may already have slipped into ISIS’ made-for-America terrorist pipeline.

            Trump jumped 10 points after Paris and San Bernadino– merely because he *appeared* to have the strongest and ‘electable’ response to ISIS.

            But the Prez appears to be paying attention to national security concerns again. Ergo, that’s not likely to besmirch Hillary’s effort.

            National security concerns aside, Trump’s high-water mark is probably only 40 to 45%– simply because he has personally alienated 55% or more of the country.

            A solid, Trump-at-the-helm GOP watershed defeat could result in another 2009/2010-like governing opportunity for Hillary. That would be very good for LGBT efforts for comprehensive civil rights law.

            Still, no one should expect Hillary to make the same ‘top priority’ timing mistake Bill made in ’93. Obama’s handling of DADT repeal would likely be her model.

            A lifetime of learned political savvy matters. Hillary has that, big time.

    • Randi

      September 26, 2016 at 6:00 pm

      And he just recently was recorded saying “One country under One god” which sounds like he will push the total first amendment out of the constitution since he wants to muzzle the press so bad, KEEP AMERICA RUSSIAN AGAIN

  2. Lauravan

    December 27, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Religious freedom is an oxymoron. The illusion that religions need more freedom is an attempt by the religious right to assert more control over the congressional process.

    • Randi

      September 26, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      it is a cover for discrimination and intended for white male hetro christians ONLY

  3. Jimmy Ray, Jr.

    February 29, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    What about the “anti-heterosexual” (normal people) legislation the pro lgbtq legislation usurps? How did we allow that to happen?

    • Saadus

      September 26, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Wasnt aware that people were denied housing and food because they were straight. Can you link me to such a situation?

  4. blacknblue2

    March 7, 2016 at 11:40 am

    The term religious right always begs the question, what is on the other end of the line? Is the far left anti-religious. The Church of Satan is defiantly not on the right so would it be on the left? Would those left beliefs be closer or further from this? “indulgence instead of abstinence!”

    Surely the far right religious would never be for indulgence instead of abstinence. Therefore using a bit of Spinoza deduction the far left would be closer to indulgence instead of abstinence than the those on the religious right.

    The statement is from the Church of Satan. The Church of Satan is a religion and has it rights to say this – “The Satanic Bible, Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence!”

    So if you are a person that leans left, that leans to indulgence instead of abstinence which religion has the same belief, the right or the left? Just a thought for those that use talking points of left or right.

  5. Nvratalos4words ™

    July 28, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    so you want me to do something against my will! think about it. If a church said they don’t do a gay marriage because of their beliefs, then what’s the difference between that and being made to do it by the government. One persons belief should not push out other beliefs to get what they want. This bill is the compromise. Will people abuse it, yes, just like our government abuses laws and let’s killer cops keep their job. Wake up. All this is rhetoric, would info did they give that proves any of these. One person’s word against another, no facts here! only opinions!!!

    • Sofa_King_Cold

      November 7, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      That’s the thing, Churches have always had the right to not perform a ceremony. However, if you work for a state agency your religion should be left at the door.

      • Mystdragon

        November 16, 2016 at 11:42 am

        The first Amendment protects freedom of RELIGION, not freedom of WORSHIP. Remember why it was made and you will understand what it means.

  6. Randi

    September 26, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    he promised the LGBTQ community he would protect them now he is a lying turn coat just like every thing he has said

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

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise

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Despite having President Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the prohibition on discrimination against LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act are all but dead as opponents of the measure have contorted it beyond recognition.

Political willpower is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end a filibuster on the bill — a tall order in any event — nor is there the willpower to force a vote on the Equality Act as opponents stoke fears about transgender kids in sports and not even unanimity in the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity said.

In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride month is days away, which would be an opportune time for Congress to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community by holding a vote on the legislation.

If the Equality Act were to come up for a Senate vote in the next month, it would not have the support to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of additional support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster.

“I haven’t really heard an update either way, which is usually not good,” one Democratic insider said. “My understanding is that our side was entrenched in a no-compromise mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, it doomed it this Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments of why it was broadly needed.”

The only thing keeping the final nail from being hammered into the Equality Act’s coffin is the unwillingness of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to the Blade continued to assert bipartisan talks are ongoing, strongly pushing back on any conclusion the legislation is dead.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Equality Act is “alive and well,” citing widespread public support he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.”

“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” David added. “As we engage with elected officials, we have confidence that Congress will listen to the voices of their constituents and continue fighting for the Equality Act through the lengthy legislative process.  We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to grow the already-high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the Equality Act is passed.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), chief sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, also signaled through a spokesperson work continues on the legislation, refusing to give up on expectations the legislation would soon become law.

“Sen. Merkley and his staff are in active discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to get this done,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that we expect to become law.”

A spokesperson Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had promised to force a vote on the Equality Act in the Senate on the day the U.S. House approved it earlier this year, pointed to a March 25 “Dear Colleague” letter in which he identified the Equality Act as one of several bills he’d bring up for a vote.

Despite any assurances, the hold up on the bill is apparent. Although the U.S. House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even reported out the bill yet to the floor in the aftermath of the first-ever Senate hearing on the bill in March. A Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic aide, however, disputed that inaction as evidence the Equality Act is dead in its tracks: “Bipartisan efforts on a path forward are ongoing.”

Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for inaction on the Equality Act, but with Manchin withholding his support for the legislation they can’t even count on the entirety of their caucus to vote “yes” if it came to the floor. Progressives continue to advocate an end to the filibuster to advance legislation Biden has promised as part of his agenda, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to advance legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to win approval in the Senate with a 50-50 party split.

The office of Manchin, who has previously said he couldn’t support the Equality Act over concerns about public schools having to implement the transgender protections applying to sports and bathrooms, hasn’t responded to multiple requests this year from the Blade on the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the Equality Act this year after having signed onto the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson talks are still happening across the aisle despite the appearances the legislation is dead.

“There continues to be bipartisan support for passing a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form, it cannot pass. That’s why there are ongoing discussions among senators and stakeholders about a path forward.”

Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have railroaded the debate by making the Equality Act about an end to women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and danger to women in sex-segregated places like bathrooms and prisons. That doesn’t even get into resolving the issue on drawing the line between civil rights for LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be litigated in the courts as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day now to issue a ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia to determine if foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples over religious objections.

For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of the Equality Act may be most keenly felt.

Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, disputed any notion the Equality Act is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive.”

“We remain optimistic despite misinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our movement partners are still working fruitfully on the Equality Act with senators. In fact, we are gaining momentum with all the field organizing we’re doing, like phone banking constituents to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever gets through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote during this Congress, and we are hopeful we can win.”

But one Democratic source said calls to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, have has outnumbered calls in favor of it by a substantial margin, with a particular emphasis on Manchin.

No stories are present in the media about same-sex couples being kicked out of a restaurant for holding hands or transgender people for using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 states thanks to the patchwork of civil rights laws throughout the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the American Unity Fund, which has bolstered the Republican-led Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act, said he continues to believe the votes are present for a compromise form of the bill.

“I know for a fact there is a supermajority level of support in the Senate for a version of the Equality Act that is fully protective of both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in getting something done this Congress.”

Deaton, however, didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on what evidence exists of agreeing on this compromise.

Biden has already missed the goal he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. Although Biden renewed his call to pass the legislation in his speech to Congress last month, as things stand now that appears to be a goal he won’t realize for the remainder of this Congress.

Nor has the Biden administration made the Equality Act an issue for top officials within the administration as it pushes for an infrastructure package as a top priority. One Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, legislative affairs director for the White House, delegated work on the Equality Act to a deputy as opposed to handling it herself.

To be sure, Biden has demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the fullest extent possible and dismantling former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ appointments with the confirmation of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.

A White House spokesperson insisted Biden’s team across the board remains committed to the Equality Act, pointing to his remarks to Congress.

“President Biden has urged Congress to get the Equality Act to his desk so he can sign it into law and provide long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The White House and its entire legislative team remains in ongoing and close coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure we are working across the aisle to push the Equality Act forward.”

But at least in the near-term, that progress will fall short of fulfilling the promise of updating federal civil rights law with the Equality Act, which will mean LGBTQ people won’t be able to rely on those protections when faced with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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D.C. bill to ban LGBTQ panic defense delayed by Capitol security

Delivery of bill to Congress was held up due to protocols related to Jan. 6 riots

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New fencing around the Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented some D.C. bills from being delivered to the Hill for a required congressional review. (Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A bill approved unanimously last December by the D.C. Council to ban the so-called LGBTQ panic defense has been delayed from taking effect as a city law because the fence installed around the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented the law from being delivered to Congress.

According to Eric Salmi, communications director for D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who guided the bill through the Council’s legislative process, all bills approved by the Council and signed by the D.C. mayor must be hand-delivered to Congress for a required congressional review.

“What happened was when the Capitol fence went up after the January insurrection, it created an issue where we physically could not deliver laws to Congress per the congressional review period,” Salmi told the Washington Blade.

Among the bills that could not immediately be delivered to Congress was the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020, which was approved by the Council on a second and final vote on Dec. 15.

Between the time the bill was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and published in the D.C. Register under procedural requirements for all bills, it was not ready to be transmitted to Congress until Feb. 16, the Council’s legislative record for the bill shows.

Salmi said the impasse in delivering the bill to Congress due to the security fence prevented the bill from reaching Congress on that date and prevented the mandatory 60-day congressional review period for this bill from beginning at that time. He noted that most bills require a 30 legislative day review by Congress.

But the Evangelista-Hunter bill, named after a transgender woman and a gay man who died in violent attacks by perpetrators who attempted to use the trans and gay panic defense, includes a law enforcement related provision that under the city’s Home Rule Charter passed by Congress in the early 1970s requires a 60-day congressional review.

“There is a chance it goes into effect any day now, just given the timeline is close to being up,” Salmi said on Tuesday. “I don’t know the exact date it was delivered, but I do know the countdown is on,” said Salmi, who added, “I would expect any day now it should go into effect and there’s nothing stopping it other than an insurrection in January.”

If the delivery to Congress had not been delayed, the D.C. Council’s legislative office estimated the congressional review would have been completed by May 12.

A congressional source who spoke on condition of being identified only as a senior Democratic aide, said the holdup of D.C. bills because of the Capitol fence has been corrected.

“The House found an immediate workaround, when this issue first arose after the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the aide said.

“This is yet another reason why D.C. Council bills should not be subject to a congressional review period and why we need to grant D.C. statehood,” the aide said.

The aide added that while no disapproval resolution had been introduced in Congress to overturn the D.C. Evangelista-Hunter bill, House Democrats would have defeated such a resolution.

“House Democrats support D.C. home rule, statehood, and LGBTQ rights,” said the aide.

LGBTQ rights advocates have argued that a ban on using a gay or transgender panic defense in criminal trials is needed to prevent defense attorneys from inappropriately asking juries to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression is to blame for a defendant’s criminal act, including murder.

Some attorneys have argued that their clients “panicked” after discovering the person against whom they committed a violent crime was gay or transgender, prompting them to act in a way they believed to be a form of self-defense.

In addition to its provision banning the LGBTQ panic defense, the Evangelista-Hunter bill includes a separate provision that strengthens the city’s existing hate crimes law by clarifying that hatred need not be the sole motivating factor for an underlying crime such as assault, murder, or threats to be prosecuted as a hate crime.

LGBTQ supportive prosecutors have said the clarification was needed because it is often difficult to prove to a jury that hatred is the only motive behind a violent crime. The prosecutors noted that juries have found defendants not guilty of committing a hate crime on grounds that they believed other motives were involved in a particular crime after defense lawyers argued that the law required “hate” to be the only motive in order to find someone guilty of a hate crime.

Salmi noted that while the hate crime clarification and panic defense prohibition provisions of the Evangelista-Hunter bill will become law as soon as the congressional review is completed, yet another provision in the bill will not become law after the congressional review because there are insufficient funds in the D.C. budget to cover the costs of implementing the provision.

The provision gives the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the Office of the D.C. Attorney General authority to investigate hate related discrimination at places of public accommodation. Salmi said the provision expands protections against discrimination to include web-based retailers or online delivery services that are not physically located in D.C.

“That is subject to appropriations,” Salmi said. “And until it is funded in the upcoming budget it cannot be legally enforced.”

He said that at Council member Allen’s request, the Council added language to the bill that ensures that all other provisions of the legislation that do not require additional funding – including the ban on use of the LGBTQ panic defense and the provision clarifying that hatred doesn’t have to be the sole motive for a hate crime – will take effect as soon as the congressional approval process is completed.

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

Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011

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shooting, DC Eagle, assault, hate crime, anti-gay attack, police discrimination, sex police, Sisson, gay news, Washington Blade

A D.C. man arrested in August 2020 for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the victim’s apartment in the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood and who was released while awaiting trial was arrested again two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill another man in an unrelated incident.

D.C. Superior Court records show that Jalal Malki, who was 37 at the time of his 2020 arrest on a charge of bias-related attempts to do bodily harm against the gay man, was charged on May 4, 2021 with unlawful entry, simple assault, threats to kidnap and injure a person, and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon against the owner of a vacant house at 4412 Georgia Ave., N.W.

Court charging documents state that Malki was allegedly staying at the house without permission as a squatter. An arrest affidavit filed in court by D.C. police says Malki allegedly threatened to kill the man who owns the house shortly after the man arrived at the house while Malki was inside.

According to the affidavit, Malki walked up to the owner of the house while the owner was sitting in his car after having called police and told him, “If you come back here, I’m going to kill you.” While making that threat Malki displayed what appeared to be a gun in his waistband, but which was later found to be a toy gun, the affidavit says.

Malki then walked back inside the house minutes before police arrived and arrested him. Court records show that similar to the court proceedings following his 2020 arrest for threatening the gay man, a judge in the latest case ordered Malki released while awaiting trial. In both cases, the judge ordered him to stay away from the two men he allegedly threatened to kill.

An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police in the 2020 case states that Malki allegedly made the threats inside an apartment building where the victim lived on the 2300 block of Champlain Street, N.W. It says Malki was living in a nearby building but often visited the building where the victim lived.

“Victim 1 continued to state during an interview that it was not the first time that Defendant 1 had made threats to him, but this time Defendant 1 stated that if he caught him outside, he would ‘fucking kill him.’” the affidavit says. It quotes the victim as saying during this time Malki repeatedly called the victim a “fucking faggot.”

The affidavit, prepared by the arresting officers, says that after the officers arrested Malki and were leading him to a police transport vehicle to be booked for the arrest, he expressed an “excited utterance” that he was “in disbelief that officers sided with the ‘fucking faggot.’”

Court records show that Malki is scheduled to appear in court on June 4 for a status hearing for both the 2020 arrest and the arrest two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill the owner of the house in which police say he was illegally squatting.

Superior Court records show that Malki had been arrested three times between 2011 and 2015 in cases unrelated to the 2021 and 2020 cases for allegedly also making threats of violence against people. Two of the cases appear to be LGBTQ related, but prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not list the cases as hate crimes.

In the first of the three cases, filed in July 2011, Malki allegedly shoved a man inside Dupont Circle and threatened to kill him after asking the man why he was wearing a purple shirt.

“Victim 1 believes the assault occurred because Suspect 1 believes Victim 1 is a homosexual,” the police arrest affidavit says.

Court records show prosecutors charged Malki with simple assault and threats to do bodily harm in the case. But the court records show that on Sept. 13, 2011, D.C. Superior Court Judge Stephen F. Eilperin found Malki not guilty on both charges following a non-jury trial.

The online court records do not state why the judge rendered a not guilty verdict. With the courthouse currently closed to the public and the press due to COVID-related restrictions, the Washington Blade couldn’t immediately obtain the records to determine the judge’s reason for the verdict.

In the second case, court records show Malki was arrested by D.C. police outside the Townhouse Tavern bar and restaurant at 1637 R St., N.W. on Nov. 7, 2012 for allegedly threatening one or more people with a knife after employees ordered Malki to leave the establishment for “disorderly behavior.”

At the time, the Townhouse Tavern was located next door to the gay nightclub Cobalt, which before going out of business two years ago, was located at the corner of 17th and R Streets, N.W.

The police arrest affidavit in the case says Malki allegedly pointed a knife in a threatening way at two of the tavern’s employees who blocked his path when he attempted to re-enter the tavern. The affidavit says he was initially charged by D.C. police with assault with a dangerous weapon – knife. Court records, however, show that prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office lowered the charges to two counts of simple assault. The records show that on Jan. 15, 2013, Malki pleaded guilty to the two charges as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

The records show that Judge Marissa Demeo on that same day issued a sentence of 30 days for each of the two charges but suspended all 30 days for both counts. She then sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for both charges and ordered that he undergo alcohol and drug testing and undergo treatment if appropriate.

In the third case prior to the 2020 and 2021 cases, court records show Malki was arrested outside the Cobalt gay nightclub on March 14, 2015 on multiple counts of simple assault, attempted assault with a dangerous weapon – knife, possession of a prohibited weapon – knife, and unlawful entry.

The arrest affidavit says an altercation started on the sidewalk outside the bar when for unknown reasons, Malki grabbed a female customer who was outside smoking and attempted to pull her toward him. When her female friend came to her aid, Malki allegedly got “aggressive” by threatening the woman and “removed what appeared to be a knife from an unknown location” and pointed it at the woman’s friend in a threatening way, the affidavit says.

It says a Cobalt employee minutes later ordered Malki to leave the area and he appeared to do so. But others noticed that he walked toward another entrance door to Cobalt and attempted to enter the establishment knowing he had been ordered not to return because of previous problems with his behavior, the affidavit says. When he attempted to push away another employee to force his way into Cobalt, Malki fell to the ground during a scuffle and other employees held him on the ground while someone else called D.C. police.

Court records show that similar to all of Malki’s arrests, a judge released him while awaiting trial and ordered him to stay away from Cobalt and all of those he was charged with threatening and assaulting.

The records show that on Sept. 18, 2015, Malki agreed to a plea bargain offer by prosecutors in which all except two of the charges – attempted possession of a prohibited weapon and simple assault – were dropped. Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. on Oct. 2, 2015 sentenced Malki to 60 days of incarnation for each of the two charges but suspended all but five days, which he allowed Malki to serve on weekends, the court records show.

The judge ordered that the two five-day jail terms could be served concurrently, meaning just five days total would be served, according to court records. The records also show that Judge Irving sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for each of the two counts and ordered that he enter an alcohol treatment program and stay away from Cobalt.

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