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Anti-Israel protest continues to roil LGBT advocates

‘Beating up on your own people is not productive’

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Creating Change, gay news, Washington Blade
Creating Change, gay news, Washington Blade

Protesters on Jan. 23, 2016, gather outside reception at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual Creating Change Conference in Chicago that was to have featured two LGBT rights advocates from Israel. (Photo courtesy of Andy Thayer/Gay Liberation Network)

The protest that forced the cancellation of a reception at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s annual conference with two Israeli activists last month continues to spark heated debate among advocates.

More than 200 people opposed to “pinkwashing,” which they describe as the promotion of Israel’s LGBT rights record in an attempt to deflect attention away from its policies toward the Palestinians, protested the Jan. 23 reception at the Creating Change Conference in Chicago.

A Wider Bridge, an organization seeking to bolster “LGBTQ connections with Israel,” organized the reception. Sarah Kala-Meir and Tom Canning from the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance were scheduled to speak, but they left the room in which the reception was taking place through a back door as protesters began shouting.

“Many of us who share an intersectional analysis of power and oppression see LGBTQ identities as inextricably intertwined with race, gender, class, ethnicity and nationality,” wrote Wendy Elisheva Somerson, founder of the Seattle chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that supported the protest, in a blog post. “We want a movement that addresses all of our needs without leaving the most vulnerable queers behind. And no surprise: We are the very same people protesting Israel’s use of LGBTQ rights to cover up and justify Israeli apartheid.”

Somerson told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that it is “just not OK” for an LGBT advocacy group, such as the National LGBTQ Task Force, to allow A Wider Bridge and similar organizations to host a reception at the Creating Change Conference.

“It’s just never going to fly anymore,” said Somerson.

Somerson, who described herself as a “queer Jewish activist” in her blog post, supported the cancellation of A Wider Bridge reception that was to have taken place at Seattle City Hall in 2012.

New York’s LGBT Community Center in 2011 placed a “moratorium” over what Gay City News described as renting space inside its building to groups that “organize around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The organization two years later ended the policy.

Organizers of Toronto Pride in 2010 banned Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, a group that opposes Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, from marching in their annual parade.

They, too, reversed their decision.

Dean Spade, the founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, last month criticized the National LGBTQ Task Force for allowing A Wider Bridge to host a reception at the Creating Change Conference.

The National LGBTQ Task Force initially cancelled the reception, but it quickly reversed the decision. A panel with officials from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was also cancelled amid “concerns from the community.”

Protesters also disrupted a panel at the Creating Change conference that featured men who are attracted to trans women.

The Dallas Voice reported that a trans woman who claimed one of the panelists was an abuser organized the protest.

The man is reportedly planning to file a defamation lawsuit against her.

“The controversy about Creating Change has been painful, particularly the false accusations of anti-Semitism that those of us who do Palestinian solidarity work consistently face,” Spade told the Blade on Tuesday. “However, despite the personal attacks and inaccurate, biased media coverage those of us who supported or participated in the protest have faced, I see the protest and the conversations it has sparked as beneficial to queer and trans movements because it raised awareness about pinkwashing.”

Gary Kinsman is a professor emeritus at Laurentian University in Canada who describes himself as a “long-time queer liberation, AIDS, anti-poverty and anti-capitalist activist living on indigenous land.”

He told the Blade that the “pro-Palestine demonstration” at the Creating Change Conference was “very helpful in pointing us towards a movement that could recapture aspects of what the queer/LGBT movements used to be like.” Kinsman is also among those who support the campaign in support of a boycott, economic divestment and sanctions against Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians.

“It is really important to understand that ‘we’ are never just queer or LGBT but always live our lives in relation to race, class, gender, ability, age and other social relations,” Kinsman told the Blade.

‘Shouting down fellow progressives is not productive’

Critics of the protesters have a far different view.

James Kirchick, a gay journalist, in an essay he wrote for the Tablet Magazine after the protest said the concept of intersectionality “compels one to adopt agendas that have nothing to do with his or her own.”

“Worse, in the name of ‘solidarity’ with other supposedly ‘oppressed’ groups, it leads to alliances with those actively hostile to one’s cause,” said Kirchick. “This is how a gay rights organization led by well-meaning progressives can be duped into disinviting private citizens of the one country in the Middle East respecting the humanity of gays, all at the behest of people who use cultural relativism to excuse Muslim societies that throw homosexuals from the tops of buildings.”

“I hope this is a wake-up call to all LGBT people that a line needs to be drawn in the sand: Anti-Semitism has no place in a human rights movement,” Kirchick told the Blade.

Critics of the protesters took particular issue with their use of the chant “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea,” which they argue has been used in support of the destruction of Israel.

National LGBTQ Task Force Rea Carey last week “wholeheartedly” condemned anti-Semitism at the Creating Change Conference. Protest organizers in a letter they released last week said the controversial chant referred to the ability of Palestinians to return to property in Israel and in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that their families lost in 1948 when Israel was founded.

“The protest at Creating Change is an indication of a broader problem of left-wing anti-Semitism, one that uses terms like ‘Zionist agitators’ and ‘anti-racism’ to disguise its own racism against Jews,” Kirchick told the Blade. “It has been heartening to see that the Task Force sees through this blatant dishonesty.”

Dana Beyer, a member of the A Wider Bridge board of directors who lives in Maryland, agrees.

“Beating up on your own people is not productive,” she told the Blade on Tuesday. “Shouting down fellow progressives is not productive. Being anti-Semitic is not productive.”

The National LGBTQ Task Force is conducting a review of “conference practices” in the wake of last month’s protests.

Carey has refused repeated interview requests from the Blade since the protests.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Brian's Ions

    February 3, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Uh huh. And they imagine a tortured explanation like this makes them sound so much more credible?

    Still never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
    ———————
    **
    Protest organizers in a letter they released last week said the controversial chant referred to the ability of Palestinians to return to property in Israel and in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that their families lost in 1948 when Israel was founded.
    **

    • lnm3921

      February 3, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      What makes that property Palestinian? Do they have a deed to it? What country exactly that Kings David and Solomon rule over thousands of years ago? Oh yeah, Israel. Where exactly were Palestinians while those kings ruled?

      • Lee Abadie

        February 4, 2016 at 12:35 am

        You are truly an idiot. So, the Zionist settlers stealing the land have the deeds? No. Your argument is pissing in the wind and blowing back into your face. #divestfromisrael

        • lnm3921

          February 5, 2016 at 12:42 am

          The point stupid is that your terrorist suicide bomber friends have no legal claims to the land either. They just whine like you acting like the world owes them something. Give me, give me! You love welfare!

          Israel was there thousands of years ago ruled by kings david and Solomon smong many others and where were Palestinians back then exactly? In some cave or tent In the desert sleeping with camels unwashed without deodorant. You can relate I’m sure.

          I wouldn’t talk about piss if I were you. Checked your breath lately?

          The only thing likely to blow up other than your lies is you during a failed bombing attempt.

  2. scottrose

    February 3, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    People who hate Israel more than they are interested in LGBT rights are not actually LGBT rights advocates.

    Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, the P.A. — all of these Palestinian groups that want Israel wiped off the map — do you think that they will listen to your stupid whining about “intersectionality” if they reach their goal of replacing Israel with an Islamic theocracy?

    You do realize that’s what they want to do, right?

    Your hatred of Israel even includes contempt for the safety and rights of the LGBTers currently living in Israel.

    Slamming a country that has a reasonably good gay rights record — in support of people hostile to gay rights, and who want to replace that country, Israel, with an Islamic theocracy is an idiotic, hateful, anti-gay thing to do.

    Antisemitism (hatred of Jews, including when it manifests as internalized antisemitism in a person born to a Jewish family) is a personality disorder.

    • uhhuhh

      February 3, 2016 at 6:27 pm

      Spare us the AIPAC propaganda. Let us know when Saint Bibi stops the ethnic cleansing also known as building illegal settlements.

      Sorry, but the pathetic campaign to make LGBT people despise Palestinians as much as Likud does isn’t working.

      • scottrose

        February 3, 2016 at 8:40 pm

        A few weeks ago, Fareed Zakaria interviewed Netanyahu in Davos.

        Asked about prospects for peace, Netanyahu said that he is ready to negotiate for peace with Abbas at any time, and asked where Abbas was.

        Meanwhile, Abbas can be seen in recent Arabic videos, praising the jihadist stabbers of Jews in Israel, saying that Allah will reward them as martyrs in heaven, and that they are spilling “pure blood” for Jerusalem. For good measure, Abbas said that the “filthy feet” of Jews will never go near their mosque.

        So, to summarize — Netanyahu is ready to negotiate for peace with Abbas, but Abbas instead of answer that call is inciting Arabs to stab Jews.

        • scottrose

          February 3, 2016 at 8:44 pm

          Go to this link and scroll down for the above-mentioned interview with Netanyahu:

          http://honestreporting.com/idns-01242016-john-kerry/

          And here, you can see Abbas’s anti-Jewish incitements:

          http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=15714

          Abbas: We won’t allow Jews’ “filthy feet”
          “We bless every drop of blood
          that has been spilled for Jerusalem…
          blood spilled for Allah…
          Every Martyr will reach Paradise,
          and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah”
          PA: Jews are filth, they desecrate and defile Jerusalem

          • Lee Abadie

            February 4, 2016 at 12:32 am

            ^ Bibi shill and Apartheid apologist.

          • scottrose

            February 4, 2016 at 11:23 am

            So — you watched the videos I linked to — and still deny that what I said is true?

      • lnm3921

        February 3, 2016 at 9:04 pm

        Why don’t you spare us your BS propaganda instead? Stop hijacking the GLBT movement to prop up your murdering Palestinian suicide bombers who don’t care who gets blown up!

        Fly over there and sashay in your high heels around the Palestinian neighborhoods waving your rainbow banner of support and let’s see how far you get!

        • Lee Abadie

          February 4, 2016 at 12:32 am

          ^ Apartheid proponent. Get up in your high heels and sashay into a Zionist settlement waving your rainbow banner and let’s see the reception you get.

          • scottrose

            February 4, 2016 at 1:35 pm

            “Mohammed, who only gave his first name for fear of repercussions, says he helped whitewash the rainbow flag off the wall in the West Bank because “we cannot promote gay rights.”

            read more: http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/1.663797

          • lnm3921

            February 5, 2016 at 12:32 am

            Are you a parrot repeating every word you read? No original thoughts?

            Israel allows pride parades. How many have they had on Palestinian territories? How long could you swish before they would stone you?

            Apartheid? Oh puleez missy. Spare us your silly drama!

  3. Will Kohler

    February 3, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    While Rea Carey is unavailable how about those “Special Snowflakes” like GetEqual who’s people were in the middle of it and Faith “Bi-Erasure” Cheltenham who feel that they are so privilege to shut things down they don’t understand or like and are too stupid to do any research.

  4. uhhuhh

    February 3, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    No it doesn’t. Only the mouthy Likud apologists who are trying their best to extend it because they think it helps their Israel-right-or-wrong propagandizing.

  5. Largo Gan

    February 4, 2016 at 12:39 am

    Moreover, in Palestinian-controlled Gaza, which has been free of any Jewish settlements and Israeli military occupation since 2005, a criminal code ordinance exists under which gays and lesbians can be convicted for their “unnatural offenses” with a felony punishable by imprisonment for a term of ten years. The Hamas run regime even executed a gay man.

    In the West Bank, under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction, homosexuality is strictly taboo, sometimes violently so and many are sent to “reeducation camps” run by Islamist clerics where they are beaten and tortured for months. Gay Palestinians regularly seek to escape to Israel and ask for asylum, fearing for their lives because of their sexual orientation. One gay Palestinian told the Israeli liberal newspaper Ha’aretz “in other times, when they brought me to the road block the entire village chased me and beat me, and nearly killed me. I prefer to sit in an Israeli prison than to go back” The San Francisco Chronicle reported as early as 2007 that “West Bank gays are more at home in Israe.l” A report documented in a piece for Vice Magazine suggests that there are at least 2,000 homosexual men originating from the Palestinian territories living in pluralist Tel Aviv.

    But for anti-Israel bigots these inconvenient truths don’t matter because they claim that Israel is highlighting its progressive treatment of LGBT people to “pinkwash” its conflict with the Palestinians.

    However, facts and laws do not lie. Israel is the best place in the Middle East for LGBT individuals as well as for any religious minority. Tel Aviv was voted the Best Gay Travel Destination and it boasts Asia’s largest gay pride parade, and that parade is the only gay pride parade in the world that is part of the official municipal schedule, produced by the city, and government funded.

  6. Brooks Austin

    February 4, 2016 at 12:47 am

    I support the rights of the Palestinians as much as the next progressive but it sounds like to me like these protesters don’t want anyone who doesn’t agree with them to have free speech rights at all and that’s really chilling to me. I’m not sure why we can’t support both LGBT rights in Israel and the rights of the Palestinians at the same time and it seems sad to me these protesters only want to force their views on others rather than engage in a peaceful dialog.

  7. Ogre Magi

    February 11, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    I have heard that Muslim LGBT+ orgs (at least the ones based in Western countries) do next to nothing or very very little for actual LGBT+ people (whether in general or within their own communities), but instead spend all of their (very modest to start with) resources and energy fighting both Zionist and generically Jewish LGBT+ components of larger LGBT+ alliances, some of which have been long-term significant contributors with actual accomplishments

    • etseq

      February 17, 2016 at 4:13 am

      Yep the main group is based in Israel of course because they would be shut down and most likely jailed in Gaza or PA and the few radicals who run it just write pro-palestinian liberation screeds that in many cases actively downplays any criticism of homophobia or heterosexism in Palestinian society, culture, religion, etc. for the “greater good” of a liberated Palestinian State just as bad or worse than exists now. It is disgusting really…

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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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