Connect with us

homepage news

Griffin articulates vision for future of LGBT movement

HRC president on Rubio, Caitlyn Jenner, Trans-Pacific Partnership

Published

on

Chad Griffin, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, gay news, Washington Blade
Chad Griffin, HRC, Human Rights Campaign, gay news, Washington Blade

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two-part interview with Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. The first installment is here.

Chad Griffin has a lot on his plate with new challenges facing the LGBT community in 2016, and he doesn’t shy away from expressing an opinion on a multitude of recent LGBT news, such as controversy over Caitlyn Jenner, expectations for lifting the transgender military ban and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The president of the Human Rights Campaign made the comments last week with the Washington Blade during a 45-minute interview in his office, where he said 2016 would be a pivotal year for LGBT rights.

Within the Obama administration, one major anticipated action on LGBT rights this year is the end to the medical regulation prohibiting openly transgender service in the U.S. military. Just this week, the Pentagon affirmed Defense Secretary Ashton Carter would make a decision on the issue this spring following the completion this month of a working group on transgender service.

Griffin said he hasn’t seen any version of the report being prepared by the working group, but maintained the Human Rights Campaign remains in contact with the Defense Department on the issue.

“One of my very first meetings in this job was at the Pentagon on this very issue,” Griffin said. “I know our teams have been in communication as they always are with our colleagues in government. It is unconscionable that the discrimination still exists as it relates to transgender service members. Tens of thousands of transgender Americans are fighting for our country and risking their lives for our country on a daily basis.”

Asked for a timeline for when he thinks the Pentagon should implement open service after the report comes out, Griffin replied, “Yesterday. It should have already happened.”

“I think I said I’m not sure how much work needs to go into a report to tell us that this needs to be lifted and this needs to be changed immediately,” Griffin added. “To me, it’s unconscionable it hasn’t been changed years ago, and so now, a timeline has been put into place that the timeline was going to take six months. We’ve gone through those six months, let’s see what the report says. But I have confidence in the Pentagon leadership and the secretary that he’s going to move quickly.”

Sue Fulton, president of the LGBT military group SPARTA, said her organization is glad HRC has prioritized working to end the trans military ban.

“SPARTA is working closely with Pentagon officials to establish good policy on transgender military service,” Fulton said. “Transgender troops are serving with honor, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Our ongoing conversations with DOD leave us optimistic this will be resolved favorably. We appreciate HRC’s sense of urgency regarding the issue, though, and would be happy to update Chad Griffin on the progress toward transgender service at his convenience.”

Singer has had ‘incredible impact’ on LGBT movement

Griffin defended GOP philanthropist Paul Singer who, despite supporting LGBT rights causes including the Human Rights Campaign, has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio.

The candidate has expressed anti-LGBT views, such as indicating he’d appoint justices to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage and reverse President Obama’s executive order against anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors.

Meanwhile, Singer in 2013 donated $250,000 to Americans for Workplace Opportunity, a coalition group founded by Griffin that sought to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The same year, the Paul E. Singer Foundation teamed up with the Daniel S. Loeb Family Foundation to award the Human Rights Campaign Foundation major grants over three years to support LGBT rights at an international level.

“I’ll say this about Paul Singer: He has had an incredible impact on this movement,” Griffin said. “He, as you know, for a decade actually has been a generous philanthropist funding the work of the movement, and then in the last six, seven years has been a generous philanthropist both from not only his foundation, but also personally in funding many of these battles around the country.”

Griffin also drew a contrast between Singer’s views on LGBT rights and those of Rubio, saying Singer is more “consistent with the majority of the American public and also consistent with the majority of Republicans.”

“You contrast that with Marco Rubio’s views that could not be more out of touch with the Republican electorate,” Griffin said. “So while Paul and I agree on issues of equality, we disagree on plenty of other issues, including support for Marco Rubio.”

Asked whether Singer’s endorsement will affect his relationship with the Human Rights Campaign, Griffin said, “It is not my job to police individual donors around the country. Everyone has the right to support whom they choose.”

“As it relates to this work, what I learned from Ted Olson long ago is that you write off no one when it comes to equality,” Griffin said. “There are folks that surprise you day in and day out. Our job is to talk to those who aren’t with us and bring them to our side. It is my hope that — and it’s not just Paul — it’s my hope that Paul and other Republican donors and voters who are out there that choose to be Republican will continue to work hard to change the candidate’s views on these issues and also ultimately to help impact and change the party’s platform.”

Asked whether it’s incumbent upon Singer to condemn Rubio publicly for pledging to roll back LGBT rights, Griffin said, “That’s not for me to say. You can ask him.”

One initiative that may see a vote in Congress this year is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial trade agreement among 12 countries in the Pacific Rim supported by President Obama. The LGBT labor group Pride at Work and the National LGBTQ Task Force oppose the measure, citing concerns over expanding trade with Malaysia and Brunei, which criminalize same-sex relations.

Griffin took a nuanced approach on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying trade agreements “just generally can be very productive as it relates to human rights issues,” but also cited concerns with the measure.

“As it specifically relates to this trade agreement, we have expressed a number of concerns including some provisions … that would impact the ability to access medications, for instance, in a number of places,” Griffin said. “Another category that I think I talked about publicly, if not here, for the first time, we’ve also expressed about any country being rewarded for being a human rights abuser particularly around LGBT issues. And so, those are two areas specifically that we’ve expressed within the administration as well as on the Hill.”

Griffin suggested the Human Rights Campaign could accept the Trans-Pacific Partnership with modifications, saying, “I hope the final bill that’s ultimately voted on will take into account and make changes to accommodate those concerns.”

Jerame Davis, executive director at Pride at Work, said he’s “heartened” by Griffin’s remarks and hopes the Human Rights Campaign joins in more substantive activism against the agreement.

“Chad Griffin’s concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership mirror Pride At Work’s and we’re thrilled HRC has reiterated those concerns publicly,” Davis said. “Pride at Work brought these concerns to HRC in 2014 and they joined our letter to President Obama that laid out the serious issues LGBT people worldwide will face if the TPP passes. Our hope is that HRC will use their influence with the White House and lawmakers on the Hill to address the concerns of LGBT and HIV/AIDS advocates before the deal comes up for a vote.”

‘Everyday folks’ other than Jenner needed for trans visibility

Griffin also touched on transgender personality Caitlyn Jenner, who became arguably the most high-profile person to publicly transition last year. She’s controversial because she’s a Republican, is seen as too affluent to represent the broader transgender community and has made controversial remarks about gender conformity.

Asked by the Blade whether he thinks Jenner has been good for the transgender movement, Griffin said, “I think any time that people with significant profiles, T, L, G or B, come out on a national stage, it’s a good thing.”

“Having said that, what we need is more folks, and this is what you saw as it relates to gay and lesbian folks coming out a decade ago, what we need is everyday folks,” Griffin continued. “We need the neighbor next door, we need the person across the street, we need the coworker, the colleague, the business leader, the CEO. And so, while I hope more and more celebrities will continue to come out of the closet, the real brave heroes are people like Blossom Brown, are people like Jazz Jennings who so boldly and bravely with great risk stand up and live their lives openly, both for themselves and also they care about the impact that has for others.”

Griffin said Jenner has helped with efforts conducted by the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, youth organizations and homeless shelters, but added “it’s important that we as a movement, and the media as a whole, not only focus on one, two or three people to define transgender Americans.”

“Anyone who’s not Caitlyn Jenner has to worry about being fired, being evicted from their home, facing discrimination day in, day out, whether it’s at their own dinner table or whether it’s under the law,” Griffin said. “And so, there is great risk when folks do this, and that’s why in my view they are amongst the greatest heroes in this country today: The everyday folks who at great risk stand up and step out and live their lives openly.”

As the interview came to a close, Griffin addressed the issue of HIV/AIDS, touting his organization’s work with the Elton John Foundation to raise competency about the disease in the Deep South, especially the potential of HIV prevention medication.

“PrEP entering the marketplace is an incredible advancement as it relates to HIV and AIDS,” Griffin said. “The research shows that a significant number of the LGBT population don’t know it exists, don’t ask for it, and the research also shows that too many health care providers don’t know that it exists and therefore don’t talk to their patients about it. And so, I do believe we’re at a time where we can very soon see an AIDS-free generation, but it is going to take continued commitment, continued advocacy, continued and increased investment and attention to this issue.”

In response to news the New York LGBT group Empire State Pride Agenda would shut down after declaring its chief objective complete, Griffin insisted more work on LGBT issues remains in the state.

“We have a governor that has moved forward on executive action as it relates to transgender protections, but there are a lot of issues beyond just the legislation,” Griffin said. “There are homeless challenges, there are issues and challenges as it relates to HIV and AIDS in this country.”

Griffin expressed enthusiasm when asked if he could foresee a time when the Human Rights Campaign would close its doors much like Empire State Pride Agenda, but predicted that wouldn’t happen in the near future.

“Wouldn’t it be great to be at the place in this country and in this world where advocacy is no longer needed,” Griffin said. “I hope that’ll happen in my lifetime, but if you look at parallel movements, if you look at the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s, you look at my colleagues at the NAACP, who are fighting for the right to vote in 2016. I think that day is not so near.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. lnm3921

    January 15, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    It’s nice Singer contributes to our rights but that doesn’t translate into Rubio giving a damn. Of course Rubio will take his money and still oppose GLBT freedom and equality. No accountability.

    But HRC hasn’t much integrity either if they take money but remain tacit when donors endorse putting those into office that would not only oppose the advancement of our rights but reverse the ones we’ve achieved. Take the money, but also express your concerns to the donor and encourage them to do more about it!

    • philipcfromnyc

      January 16, 2016 at 10:07 am

      Rubio would be an absolute disaster for the gay and lesbian community. Fortunately, it is not nearly as easy for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to reverse a decision of great impact, such as Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), as Rubio would have Americans believe. Great societal reliance has been placed on Obergefell in the six short months since it was handed down on June 26 of last year — gay couples in all 50 states and in all US territories have been getting married by the hundreds of thousands since this decision was handed down. Even were SCOTUS somehow to reverse this decision (it won’t), the impact would be greatly limited by the time SCOTUS (hypothetically) could get around to doing so — because many of the states which had anti-same sex marriage measures on their books and in their constitutions acknowledged that Obergefell was dispositive and binding, and started issuing marriage licenses despite the fact that they had measures and constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex marriage on their books. It is also not possible to strip married persons of their marital status, as was acknowledged by the California Supreme Court in Strauss v. Horton, 46 Cal.4th 364, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 591, 207 P.3d 48 (2009). Once married, always married (barring divorce, of course). And even were SCOTUS to overrule itself, a fresh round of litigation would be necessary in every US Court of Appeals to have weighed in on this issue, and it is entirely possible that some of these courts would find alternative grounds to continue to uphold same sex marriage following a SCOTUS decision reversing Obergefell, depending on the breadth of the (hypothetical) decision reversing Obergefell. The bottom line is that SCOTUS has NEVER reversed a decision which has expanded the rights which citizens of this nation enjoy, even in the face of heated and sometimes raucous opposition (e.g., Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), which has been upheld TWICE in the face of vicious attempts to reverse it).

      PHILIP CHANDLER

      • Katrina Rose

        January 20, 2016 at 7:36 pm

        “it is not nearly as easy for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to reverse a decision of great impact, such as Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), as Rubio would have Americans believe”

        What are you smoking? As of this second there are four crypto-christianists on the court who would do so without a second thought – unless that second thought was to toss in dicta that would be used to kill off Lawrence v. Texas and Romer v. Evans. You can tell yourself differently all you want, but the only thing standing in the way of Obergefell (and Lawrence and Romer) being on the short end of a Scalia-authored ‘it was wrongly-decided the day it was decided and it is wrongly-decided now’ holding is the fact that a Rubio-style christianist has not had the opportunity to place a fifth crypto-christianist on the court.

  2. Jenna Fischetti

    January 15, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    {“Having said that, what we need is more folks, and this is what you saw as it relates to gay and lesbian folks coming out a decade ago, what we need is everyday folks,” Griffin continued. “We need the neighbor next door, we need the person across the street, we need the coworker, the colleague, the business leader, the CEO.” }

    Chad Griffin would know that “everyday folks” HAVE been out for decades before he was a “thang” IF HRC had not spent it’s first 33 years working to undermine the transgender community At Every Turn.

    From “pre-lobbying” Congress in the 1990s to cut trans people out of discussions on Capital Hill, to blacklisting trans people from jobs in the LGBT advocacy realm, to having a total of 2 1/2 trans employees during the first 33 years of it’s existence.

    AND The Blade would know THAT if it reported on the Pipeline Report which highlighted the atrocious record HRC has with women, communities of color and the trans community.

    • Katrina Rose

      January 16, 2016 at 9:12 am

      The Pipeline Report?

      You mean the one that demonstrated that those few trans people HRC has deigned to hire “Frequently feel tokenized” and “Are often mis-gendered, even after repeated attempts to educate”?

      You mean the one that demonstrated “The hiring procedures of HRC are concerning and not transparent” and that at HRC “People of color, Transgender people, lower socio-economic people face institutionalized discrimination” and that it is not unusual to see “two men hire an underqualified man over an exceptional woman”?

      You mean the Pipeline Report that I only found about from news sources OTHER than “America’s leading gay news source”?

      That one?

  3. William Turner

    January 15, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    I’d rather hear from Urvashi Vaid. HTC has such a poor history to overcome. He needs to work on that, first.

  4. Katrina Rose

    January 16, 2016 at 9:58 am

    “We need the neighbor next door, we need the person across the street, we need the coworker, the colleague, the business leader, the CEO.”

    We need all of the trans people who HRC blacklisted for daring to question the revealed wisdom of Birch, Solmonese and their owners.

    Where are the reparations, Chad?

  5. David Campbell

    January 18, 2016 at 1:30 pm

    I’m not typically a critic of HRC, they’re not perfect but overall I think they do well in their niche. This interview leaves me wondering WTF is going on over there. There are two points in particular that left a bad taste in my mouth,

    First, Griffin says there are “[t]ens of thousands of transgender Americans are fighting for our country and risking their lives for our country on a daily basis.” TENS of THOUSANDS? Tens of thousands of active military trans people? Where did that number come from?

    Secondly, re: Paul Singer, I agree that we should not dismiss our supporters even when they are not fully aligned with all of our views. The interview goes on, “Asked whether it’s incumbent upon Singer to condemn Rubio publicly for pledging to roll back LGBT rights, Griffin said, “That’s not for me to say. You can ask him.” I find this wildly ironic coming from the head of the organization that leads the charge of telling people where to shop and where to work based on the political actions and policies of businesses. For him not to take Singer to task is weak.

Leave a Reply

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

homepage news

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

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise

Published

on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading

homepage news

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

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

Published

on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading

homepage news

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

Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011

Published

on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular