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Va. Senate committee approves ‘Kim Davis’ religious freedom bill

Officials would be allowed to deny marriage licenses to gay couples

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Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would allow officials to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs.

Members of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee by an 8-6 vote margin approved Senate Bill 40, which state Sen. Charles Carrico (R-Galax) introduced last month.

State Sens. Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham County), Thomas Norment (R-James City), Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover County), Richard Stuart (R-Stafford County), Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsvylvania County), Thomas Garrett (R-Buckingham County) and A. Benton Chafin (R-Russell County) voted for the measure. All six Democrats on the committee — state Sens. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County), L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), John Edwards (D-Roanoke), A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico County), R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath County — and one Republican, state Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R-Richmond), opposed SB 40.

The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus in a press release it released after the vote described SB 40 as a “Kim Davis” bill, referring to the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“If public officials don’t want to carry out their prescribed duties, they should not seek election or appointment to those offices,” said McEachin in the press release. “What should never happen is for their prejudices to impose burdens or inequalities on Virginians who simply want to exercise their lawful rights. Public servants need to serve, and serve all Virginians — which is the opposite of what this bill proposes.”

Gays and lesbians have been able to legally marry in Virginia since 2014.

Carrico earlier this week compared homosexuality to cancer. The Galax Republican made the comment during a hearing on a bill that seeks to ban so-called conversion therapy in Virginia.

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38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Mark Cichewicz

    January 28, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    This is utter stupidity. People hired to not do their job. The legislators who introduced these laws should be thrown out of office and their salaries be given to feed the poor. What a waste of our money.

  2. lnm3921

    January 28, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    Yes, the SCOTUS ruling was the end of the marriage battles wasn’t it? I knew that religious conservatives would continue to press for laws to get around it much like they’ve done to get around Roe V. Wade. Kim Davies was indeed just the tip of the iceberg. What happened to the issue of Judge Roy Moore in Alabama telling clerks they don’t have to issue licenses despite the SCOTUS ruling? More litigation.

    Whether or not these laws are illegal is not so much the issue, Rather it’s the need for Gay and Lesbians to continue to waste time and resources to fight the legislation in court, meanwhile being denied their rights while the lawsuits make it through the courts.

    • Michael Wade

      February 1, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      If religious zealots and fascist that mistakenly believed we are a 3rd world theocratic regime kept away from civil rights, all this time could have been saved. Wanting marriage equality is a right, the root cause is the “need for religious fanatics to continue imposing their savage religious doctrine upon the rights of others wasting taxpayer dollars because everyone else won’t tolerate their bullshit”. Just thought I would correct that. You seemed to have had it mixed up.

      • lnm3921

        February 1, 2016 at 8:29 pm

        Tax payer money? They are pretty well financed.

        If most people didn’t care and they were insignificant this wouldn’t be still a debate and we still wouldn’t be going to court, What should be and is just isn’t the reality we face. I’m not the mixed up one.

        • Rex O'Fender

          February 3, 2016 at 3:08 pm

          Whom decides what should be?

  3. mike

    January 28, 2016 at 10:27 pm

    SCOTUS GAY RULING WAS REALLY INVALID BECAUSE IT WAS NOT BASED ON THE CONSTITUTION…. ACCORDING TO INJUSTICE KENNEDY IT WAS BASED ON A NON-EXISTANT CHARTER THAT HE AND THE OTHER FOUR MADE UP…
    ALSO SCOTUS DOES NOT CREATE OR MAKE LAW IT IS SUPPOSED TO INTERPRET IT BASED STRICTLY ON WHAT THE CONSTITUTION SAYS..
    ALSO TWO JUSTICES PERFORMED GAY MARRIAGES PRIOR TO THE VOTE. THATS A CONFLICT OF INTETESTS THAT SHOULD HAVE RECUSSED THEM…..
    SO WITH THOSE INDISPUTSBLE FACTS WHY SHOULD ANYONE OR STATE FEEL LIKE THEY ARE BOUND TO COMPLY….
    WHY DO SO MANY DEMOCRATES HATE THE FIRST AMENDMENT?
    THANK YOU KIM! YOU ARE A TRUE PATRIOT…….

    • climate3

      January 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      Poppycock! It was valid. Deal with it.

      • mike

        January 30, 2016 at 10:30 pm

        Valid only to those who don’t believe SCOTUS is bound by what the Constitution says and not upon an imagined non-existent charter… Why you think they couldn’t reference the Constitution with their majority opinion….

        • Michael Wade

          February 1, 2016 at 7:20 pm

          It was a ruling to interpret the constitution by SCOTUS, statewide marriage bans are unconstitutional and it *was* and *is* legal. States never had the right to institute gay marriage bans to begin with. Secondly allowing middle eastern barbaric biblical doctrine to dictate civil rights and compromise the integrity of democracy is far more unconstitutional anyways. If you want to live under a theocracy/caliphate their are plenty of 3rd world middle eastern shitholes that would love to have you.

          • mike

            February 2, 2016 at 10:22 pm

            Like I said the SCOTUS ruling was not based on what the Constitution says…. It was based on a non-existent make believe charter… Thats what Kennedy said… So, anyone who believes in the American process of Law in the High Court can not see this as legitimate…. Justices who vote without precedent or reference to the Constitution have made themselves legislators which is UNCONSTITUTIONAL… When the repubs take the White House their will be new SC Justices appointed to the bench who will respect the Constitution; soon after the invalid ruling on gay marriage will be corrected and America will return to being a Nation of Constitutional honor again…. Read the Constitution and you will discover for yourself why Kennedy had to make up his imaginary charter….

          • Trulahn

            February 3, 2016 at 2:15 pm

            Doesn’t matter what a single dissenting justice said. There are 9 justices in SCOTUS. All it takes is 5 votes for a decision to be final. The other 4 can disagree all they want. They can write their dissenting opinion. Sometimes those opinions actually shape future laws. But current laws are ruled by the majority opinions, not the dissenting ones. That’s how SCOTUS works. Kennedy is entitled to his dissenting opinion. But he lost the votes, so that’s that. No justices get to win every decision every time. There will almost always be dissenting opinions. Again, that’s how it works. It is Constitution simply by virtual that the SCOTUS voted it to be Constitutional, whether you or anyone else like it or not.

          • mike

            February 3, 2016 at 3:02 pm

            You just explained the process… Your are exactly right… My point is how their votes were deliberated….. Their frame of reference as explained by Kennedy himself was on a self serving imagined charter that is non-existant…. They voted based on their own personal bias not on the Constitution which in the view of many Constitutional schalors makes it invalid. And don’t forget SCOTUS does not make laws which is another reason it is invalid.

          • Rex O'Fender

            February 3, 2016 at 3:10 pm

            The SC didn’t make new law. They ruled state bans on marriage equality were unconstitutional, which they clearly are.

          • mike

            February 3, 2016 at 9:34 pm

            Not a new law? Then when did the congress vote gay marriage in as a law….

          • Rex O'Fender

            February 4, 2016 at 5:14 pm

            Again, the Supreme Court struck down state laws that violate the Federal Constitution–that is their job. They didn’t create law, they invalidated illegal law.

          • mike

            February 3, 2016 at 9:33 pm

            You mean Scalia…

        • Sherry

          February 3, 2016 at 2:42 pm

          Mike you don’t understand the first amendment that is probably due to your lack of reading comprehension.

        • Rex O'Fender

          February 3, 2016 at 3:09 pm

          Where did you earn your law degree, mike?

          • mike

            February 3, 2016 at 9:35 pm

            watsamattau….

          • Melanie

            February 8, 2016 at 5:58 am

            http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?161+ful+SB40. Here is the scary bill
            This says the clerk can deny on personal, ethical, moral, or religious grounds
            Basically they can deny anyone and completely avoid doing thir job.
            People who work for the government must uphold our laws like them or not . I fail to see how issuing a license for something you disagree with is that unconscionable anyway. If this is designed to protect Christians from the appearance of condoning homosexuality, what is protecting them from judging others? I thought that was for god? Wait until the first clerk denies a license to an interracial couple. What about previously divorced people? What about atheist?in theory this bill is wide open for personal bias and descrimination to run rampant. Call and write NOW it is not too late

    • Sherry

      February 3, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Hey Mike COULD YOU USE ANY MORE CAPS. Actually the caps don’t bother me nearly as much as your horrible spelling,awful grammar, and the content of your illogical diatribe.

      • mike

        February 3, 2016 at 9:13 pm

        Yess Iams a reelie bad spiller… i admit that and bad grammar too…. you got me…. My logic is right on….

    • Sherry

      February 3, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      See what you don’t seem to understand is the first amendment is there to protect a person’s freedom to exercise their religion, not to impose it on others or to make others live by their religious rules. It also does not guarantee you a right to a job you refuse to do.

      • mike

        February 3, 2016 at 9:11 pm

        Ist amendment says not to prohibit the exercise there of so who’s imposing on who or who’s being forced by religious rules?

        • Copyleft

          February 4, 2016 at 7:55 am

          Any time a government official exercises religious discrimination in dealing with the public, they’re the ones imposing. Government doesn’t have “free exercise” rights; CITIZENS do.

          • mike

            February 4, 2016 at 11:52 am

            Religouse discrimination is an act of denying a lawful right of someone based on their religious affiliation…. Forcing anyone to perform, act, participate in breaking, violating their deeply held religious belief is very inconsiderate, intollerant, and disregards the 1st amendment…. America is or use to be about freedom everyone suffers when force is used to make a person do something against their reasonable objection…..

          • Copyleft

            February 4, 2016 at 12:00 pm

            “Religouse discrimination is an act of denying a lawful right of someone based on their religious affiliation”

            Correct. So who is being denied a lawful right, and what right is it that they’re losing? Government workers don’t have a ‘right’ to treat citizens unequally in the performance of their duties, do they?

        • Sherry

          February 8, 2016 at 10:44 pm

          Basically Mike it means that you have a right to follow your religion and abide by its rules, but you do not have the right to make others follow your rules. In other words if she doesn’t want to acknowledge gay marriage fine, she doesn’t have to have one and she can dislike it all she wants. However, she does not have the right to tell others they cannot have one. Her job is optional she chose to do this job, which means she is obligated to do it. If her religious views won’t allow for that than she has the right to step down from her position. But she does not have the right to tell others they can’t get married because of her religion. Jobs are elective positions, nobody is forcing her to do that job.

    • sugarpuddin

      February 3, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      And you are a Theocrat that that first Amendment was written to protect us from.

      • mike

        February 3, 2016 at 9:17 pm

        Well you would never like any of the founders since they were all Bible believing Christians….You need protection from yourselves…

  4. Mark Cichewicz

    January 30, 2016 at 7:39 am

    I’ll give that to you Inm3921, as a class of people we are still denied our rights every day regardless of marriage equality. And they, the heaters just don’t see it. On the heaters behalf our legislators are doing this to all LGBTQ and at what cost to all citizans. I’m sorry all republican conservatives are a joke and NEED to be put in their place.

  5. mercury613

    February 3, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    AKA “The Unrepentant Serial Adulteress” religious freedom bill.

  6. sugarpuddin

    February 3, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    That is the first step down that slippery slope to a Theocracy and I believe, if we didn’t have 5 Catholic Supreme Court Justices who don’t follow the Constitution in matters of religion, that it would be declared Unconstitutional.

  7. mike

    February 3, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Don’t use the Lord’s name in vein…. Your such a happy person…

  8. mike

    February 3, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    They didn’t say thats what the Constitution means…. They said that is what a non-existant charter meant.. There was nothing in the Constitution they referenced that they could base their votes on…. It was based on their personal bias…

  9. Zooterpust

    February 4, 2016 at 10:06 am

    It truly would be terrible thing to deprive Republicans of their constitutional right to deprive others of their constitutional rights.

  10. Bobo Powers

    February 4, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Here we have an example of the ‘Conservative’ gridlock. They will spend tons of OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY in their efforts to get this piece of trash enacted into law. Which, then there will be more resources expended to challenge it, where it will be struck down so fast, since it is unconstitutional.

  11. Carlos

    February 12, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    I’m not gay or even lean towards that way but I think I shall go marry a Man..

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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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