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Rea Carey ‘wholeheartedly’ condemns anti-Semitism at conference

Protesters forced cancellation of reception with Israeli advocates

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Rea Carey, gay news, Washington Blade, ACA, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, National LGBTQ Task Force

Rea Carey, gay news, Washington Blade, ACA, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, National LGBTQ Task Force

National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey on Jan. 25, 2016, ‘wholeheartedly’ condemned anti-Semitism in the wake of the protest that forced the cancellation of a reception at the Creating Change Conference that was to have featured two LGBT rights advocates from Israel. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey on Monday issued a lengthy statement in which she “wholeheartedly” condemned anti-Semitism.

“I want to make this crystal clear: The National LGBTQ Task Force wholeheartedly condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic statements made at any Task Force event, including our Creating Change Conference,” she said. “It is unacceptable.”

Carey issued her statement three days after hundreds of protesters forced the cancellation of a reception at the Creating Change Conference in Chicago that was to have featured two LGBT rights advocates from Israel.

A Wider Bridge, an organization seeking to bolster “LGBTQ connections with Israel,” organized the reception.

Sarah Kala-Meir and Tom Canning of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance were scheduled to speak. They left the room in which the reception was taking place through a back door as protesters began shouting.

Those who protested the reception held signs with slogans that expressed their opposition to “pinkwashing,” which they describe as the promotion of Israel’s LGBT rights record in an attempt to deflect attention away from its controversial policies towards the Palestinians. A video that the Windy City Times shot shows some of protesters chanting “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea” as they marched towards the room in which the reception was taking place.

Those who describe themselves as pro-Israel note the slogan has been used by those who support the destruction of the Jewish state. The Guardian reported that Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, a militant group the State Department has designed as a terrorist organization, used a variation of this chant during a 2012 rally that marked his return to the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Carey: Police called ‘without consulting us’

A second video of the Creating Change Conference protest the Windy City Times captured shows someone placing a Palestinian flag over the head of a man who was trying to enter the reception. The protesters began chanting “shame on you!” after he ripped it down and began yelling into the crowd.

Carey in her statement noted the National LGBTQ Task Force “acted to defuse the situation to the best of our ability.” She said security personnel at the Chicago Hilton where the Creating Change Conference took place called the police “without consulting us.”

“We are deeply concerned about how the events of the evening unfolded,” said Carey.

Tony Varona, a professor at American University Washington College of Law in D.C. who is a former member of the Human Rights Campaign board of directors, attended the reception.

He told the Blade on Monday that he heard “verbal attacks” from some of the protesters “about how the organizers and the attendees had blood on our hands, how we were celebrating over dead bodies, didn’t care about people of color, etc., etc., and that Israel had to be destroyed.” Varona said he did not personally hear any protesters use anti-Semitic slurs, but “heard that others did.”

“I was sickened by the anti-Semitic under- and overtones throughout the protest,” he said.

Varona, who has attended a number of Creating Change Conferences since the first one took place 28 years ago, over the weekend posted to his Facebook page an open letter to Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force Deputy Executive Director Russell Roybal and Creating Change Conference Director Sue Hyde.

“Until and unless the Task Force addresses the harm(s) done, course-corrects and distances itself from the anti-Semitism, bullying, and censorship soaking this conference, I am afraid I can no longer support the Task Force in any manner nor attend another Creating Change,” wrote Varona.

Nancy K. Kaufman, chief executive officer of the National Council of Jewish Women, which provides funding to the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, in a statement said her organization is “outraged by the harassment and censorship inflicted on the Israelis who were invited to speak” at the Creating Change Conference. Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson and Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer who represented Edith Windsor before the U.S. Supreme Court that challenged the Defense of Marriage Act, are among those who also criticized the protest.

“The assault by around 200 members of the LGBTQ community on Jewish guests, queer and otherwise, at the reception held by A Wider Bridge for the LGBT community center, Jerusalem Open House, was a stain on the LGBT community at large,” Dana Beyer, a member of the A Wider Bridge board of directors who lives in Maryland, told the Washington Blade on Monday. “It also highlighted the failure of the Task Force to provide an actual physical safe space for one of its communities, having bought into the belief that ‘safe space’ means “safe from emotional or intellectual challenge.”

Arthur Slepian, executive director of A Wider Bridge, described Carey’s statement as “a good start.”

“But we were disappointed that the statement did not explicitly address the topic of Israel as well as anti-Semitism,” Slepian told the Blade.

Others continued to defend the protesters.

Pauline Park, chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, traveled to the West Bank in 2012 with a group of LGBT rights advocates.

She criticized the National LGBTQ Task Force’s decision to invite A Wider Bridge — which she described as “nothing more than a front for the right-wing government” of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — to take part in the Creating Change Conference. Park, who did not attend the Creating Change Conference herself, on Monday told the Blade that the National LGBTQ Task Force should endorse the campaign in support of a boycott, economic divestment and sanctions against Israel over its policy towards the Palestinians if it “were really committed to social justice as its leadership claims.”

“By inviting A Wider Bridge to use Creating Change as a platform to pinkwash the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine, the Task Force implicitly endorsed the occupation and the apartheid regime used to enforce it, thus betraying queer Palestinians as well as the organization’s own nominal commitment to progressive social and political change,” she said.

Alex Shams, a doctoral student at the University of Chicago who recently lived on the West Bank, took part in the protest.

Shams told the Blade on Monday that it was against A Wider Bridge and not Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance. Shams added the protest was not anti-Semitic.

“Protesting against the Israeli government for its human rights violations against the Palestinian people is not anti-Semitism,” Shams told the Blade. “But the Task Force’s statement implies it is, which is deeply problematic.”

Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network, who also took part in the protest, agreed.

“The allegation that the ‘from the river to the sea’ slogan is anti-Semitic is a classic elision of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, to provide cover for Zionism,” he told the Blade on Monday.

Protest organizers did not return Blade’s request for comment before deadline.

A review of ‘conference practices’ underway

The National LGBTQ Task Force earlier this month announced it had cancelled the reception amid criticism from Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and others, including the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity. The organization also said it would no longer hold a panel that was to have included officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement amid “concerns from our community” over the Obama administration’s policies towards undocumented immigrants.

The National LGBTQ Task Force subsequently reversed its decision to cancel the A Wider Bridge reception.

The reception was to have taken place less than five months after an Orthodox Jewish man stabbed a 16-year-old girl to death and injured five others during an attack on a Pride march that Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance organized. The July 30, 2015, incident took place a day before two Jewish settlers allegedly killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents when they set fire to their home near the West Bank city of Nablus.

Kala-Meir, who is the executive director of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, told the Blade after the protest that she and Canning “are still quite post-traumatic from the attack at Jerusalem pride.”

“I wanted especially to hear from Jerusalem Open House and how it has been recovering from and responding to the murderous terrorist attack against its Pride march last year,” said Varona. “Sadly, they were not only silenced, but literally forced off the stage by the protestors.”

Carey in her statement conceded the weeks leading up to this year’s Creating Change Conference have “been rough.” She further noted the protest is the first time in the 28 year history of the annual event that a reception has been targeted.

“The events leading up to and during it has been extremely hurtful to many — and for really different reasons,” she said.

Carey said the National LGBTQ Task Force has “initiated a review of our conference practices.”

“In light of all that has happened, I have already started a review of the conference so we can make needed changes in the future,” she said.

“There is clearly a lot of work to do, and we look forward to working with the Task Force in the coming year to help make Creating Change into a safer space for Jews, but also a space that can safely hold more than one narrative about Israel,” Slepian told the Blade.

Shams remained critical of the National LGBTQ Task Force, questioning why the organization did not reach out to protest organizers and those who took part in it.

“News of the action was public for days and weeks beforehand, but apparently they couldn’t be bothered to listen to the concerns of their members, or to take them seriously,” Shams told the Blade. “Instead, they prioritized an organization whose sole purpose is to spread propaganda on behalf of the Israeli government.”

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. WW4Report

    January 26, 2016 at 3:25 am

    “From the river to the sea” may not be anti-Semitic but it is pretty clearly rejecitonist. I suppose it could be used by those who want a single secular state in historic Palestine, but it evokes the “drive-them-into-the-sea” rhetoric of the rejectionist Palestinians (mirrored by the “drive-them-into-Jordan” rhetoric of rejectionist Israelis). Probably not the wisest choice of slogan, at least from a tactical standpoint.

    • sting_is_ok

      January 31, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      “Driving them into the sea” means genocide. “Driving them into Jordan” – offensive as you might think it is – only means relocation. Therefore, they are not equivalent.

  2. Erik loft

    January 26, 2016 at 11:14 am

    It’s not the criticism of Israel that is anti-Semitic, its how they chose to voice the opposition is anti-Semitic. They don’t realize when they spit out the word “Zionist Pigs” it brings up the protocols of zion. They don’t realize that when you accuse of pinkwashing, you are accusing jews of controlling the media to try and make money, which is speculative! And itself an accusation wrapped in prejudices used to justify discrimination against jews. They support Palestinians so they borrow the language of the opposition to Israel, but they fundamentally don’t realize that the same language is based in a legacy of oppression and genocide. Support Palestinians, learn Jewish culture and history, then make your opinion known! It’s not hard! Also the idea that of the thousands of terrible problems facing the Palestinians, they are not sitting thinking “Darn, the american gays aren’t on our side, because the Israeli’s tricked them.” That’s so conspiratorial and ridiculous.

    • sting_is_ok

      January 26, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      Criticism of Israel, in and of itself, is not Anti-Semitism. However, the tone of almost all of the Anti-Israel protests is!

      • Andy Marcus

        January 27, 2016 at 2:57 pm

        Erik – but it is the criticism of Israel that is anti-Semitic, when Israel is criticized for things that any country would do to defend its own people. Like when Israeli cities are rocketed, the Government of Israel is going to do whatever is has to do to remove the threat. And they are called war criminals for that. One rocket on El Paso and there would be a giant hole where Mexico used to be – and none of these haters would say a word about it.

  3. QueeRevolutionary

    January 26, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    what does this “The July 30, 2015, incident took place a day before two Jewish settlers
    allegedly killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents when they set
    fire to their home near the West Bank city of Nablus” Have to do with the JEW BASHING CREATING CHANGE POGROM against Israeli Jews are you accusing the gay Israeli Jews of killing anyone. I saw that line in every report by you. Are you inciting more pogroms. Are you accusing Tom Canning of being that settler who killed a toddler.”

    Read a book on journalist ethics and then remove that false accusation from all reports regarding Jerusalem Open Hands for Pride and Tolerance. You are accusing those gay Jews of killing Arabs – that never happened and you know it.

    NEVER AGAIN

    • Andy Marcus

      January 27, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Absolutely nothing. Plus, the fire was condemned nearly universally by EVERYBODY in Israel. Yet when a young Jewish mother is hacked to death in her own home in front of her young children (and there are hundreds of equally barbaric, savage killings of Jews), the animals who did it are treated like heroes by the “Palestinians” and their “leaders” alike.

  4. Andy Marcus

    January 27, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Opposing the right of the Jewish people to soviergnty – which is what Zionism is – actually is antisemitic. The so-called “Palestinian” people could have had their own state decades ago, if that really were their goal. But the creation of a state is not their goal – their goal is the destruction of a state.

  5. Steve 907

    January 27, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    I wonder why there was not a police presence to begin with so as to not have this altercation perpetrated partially by people not even registered for the conference. At virtually any Holiday service at any synagogue or any large gathering of Jews in the country there is a police presence upfront to guard against anti-Semitic attacks. The conference organizers might have done this, particularly in light of the public discourse that occurred in the days leading up to it.

  6. scottrose

    January 28, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Rea Carey is clueless.

    The hotel employees were frightened and alarmed by the antisemitic riot.

    Jews were getting kicked, shoved, called antisemitic pejoratives and threatened.

    Calling the police was the right thing to do.

    When she says that the hotel called the police “without consulting us” – she looks like an idiot. I know it’s a CYA move so that the people who would like to see Jews killed without police interference won’t get angry at her, but . . . .

    • sting_is_ok

      January 31, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      They should have been the one to call the police. BTW, Palestinian LGBT people are always attempting to get into Israel as they are in severe danger – often from their own families – in the territories.

      Except for the actions of a few lone fanatics, LGBT people are not in physical danger (at least not because they’re LGBT) in Israel.

      BTW, anything where the Jewish bible prescribes the death penalty requires judicial process (which is filed with all sorts of obstacles and caveats) before it can be carried out. Thus, the terrorist who murdered somebody at a pride parade was not acting according to Jewish law, not even according to the most extreme interpretation!

  7. Alan Tony Amberg

    January 30, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    Oh the irony of it! LGBT activists who for 20 years fought for recognition and the same rights as anyone else in Israel are now suddenly the tool of the right-wing government. It’s as laughable as saying that Andy Thayer is a tool of Ted Cruz. Or it would be laughable if it weren’t backed by the assault and verbal violence of his mob on Friday night. I have never in my life been afraid like that. And I’ve faced some pretty tough customers.

    Pinkwashing! What this really means is that any demonstration that Israel is a vibrant, diverse society where activists can make changes — anathema to this ignorant mob. They could have asked the Jerusalem Open House activists what they did to be successful and ask how they could help. But that would crack their one-dimensional facade where people are either bad guys (read Israel) or not of interest (read autocratic repressive regimes of the middle east) or poor underdogs (read Palestinians, whose Arab brothers and sisters won’t help them).

    Alan Amberg,
    Chicago, IL

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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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