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Mississippi governor’s son reportedly victim of anti-gay attack

Phil Bryant signed controversial religious freedom bill last week

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Patrick Bryant, gay news, Washington Blade
Patrick Bryant, gay news, Washington Blade

Patrick Bryant with Mississippi First Lady Deborah Bryant (Photo public domain from the Office of the First Lady of Mississippi)

The Washington Blade has learned that the son of Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant was once attacked because he is gay.

A source who claims to know Patrick Bryant from when they were students at the University of Southern Mississippi told the Washington Blade last week during a telephone interview from Jackson, the state capital, that the incident took place at a bar in Hattiesburg after the governor took office in 2012.

The source said that Patrick Bryant — who was a student at the University of Southern Mississippi at the time — went to the bar with a group of other gay men. The source told the Blade that it is “an open secret” that the governor’s son is gay.

“He was intoxicated and someone asked him if he was, ‘Phil Bryant’s faggot gay son,’” said the source who asked the Blade not to publish their name for fear of retribution from the governor, recalling the alleged incident. “Obviously people took offense to it.”

The source said the man “kept antagonizing him to try to provoke Patrick into a fight.”

The source told the Blade that the man pushed Patrick Bryant.

“It wasn’t really a fair fight,” said the source.

The source told the Blade that Patrick Bryant moved to Austin, Texas, shortly after the alleged incident took place.

“He (Phil Bryant) knew that if Patrick stayed, he knew eventually everyone would realize Patrick’s gay and it would come out during an election and someone would try to use it against him politically,” said the source.

The Blade reached the Hattiesburg Police Department on Monday. The officer who answered the phone did not follow-up with information about the alleged attack.

WLOX, a television station on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, reported that Patrick Bryant helped decorate the Governor’s Mansion for the holidays in 2012. His LinkedIn page says he is currently an interior designer for a firm in Austin, Texas.

Robin Roberts: HB 1523 ‘hurts my soul’

The source spoke with the Blade two days after Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523, a sweeping “religious freedom” bill that critics contend would allow anti-LGBT discrimination in Mississippi.

“Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who grew up in Pass Christian on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and came out as a lesbian in 2013, appears on the cover of the state’s most recent tourism guide. She criticized HB 1523 in a statement to WLOX.

“My longtime partner, Amber, and I have always felt welcomed in my home state, and it hurts my soul to think of anyone not feeling welcome,” said Roberts.

Ellen DeGeneres, who grew up in Louisiana, is among those who have also criticized Mississippi’s religious freedom law. Spokespersons for the Departments of Transportation, Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development told the Blade last week that their respective agencies are reviewing the controversial statute.

“No business that serves the public asks its customers if they are gay, bisexual, transgendered or straight before providing services, nor should they,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the Mississippi-based American Family Association, in an April 6 post to his website. “This is what opponents of our new state law want you to believe. That simply doesn’t happen.”

“But any private small business owner such as a baker, a photographer, a florist, etc., should not be forced by the power of the government to be an active participant in a wedding ceremony or else be put out of business,” he added. “Mississippi’s new law protects these people from having their lives ruined simply because they are Christians.”

Family thrown ‘under the bus for politics’ in Miss.

Speculation over Patrick Bryant’s sexual orientation has persisted for years.

Mitchell Moore, owner of Campbell’s Bakery in the Fondren neighborhood of Jackson, told the Blade in 2014 shortly after another religious freedom bill that Phil Bryant signed took effect that the governor enacted it because he had yet to accept his son’s homosexuality. The source with whom the Blade spoke last week said “it’s an open secret” that Patrick Bryant is gay.

Neither Patrick Bryant nor his father’s office returned the Blade’s multiple requests for comment for this story.

“People will definitely throw their family under the bus for politics (in this state,)” said the source.

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53 Comments

53 Comments

  1. Danny D

    April 12, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    So you outed a 28 year old victim of assault because of his sexual identity, because his father is a bigot? Great journalism here.

    • HottyToddy1

      April 13, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      Outed? He wasn’t in the closet. For christsake, he’s an interior decorator who goes to gay bars. And yes, it is relevant that a governor who signed a gay apartheid bill into law has a gay son.

      • John Heinis

        April 14, 2016 at 12:44 pm

        Why does being an interior decorator frequenting a gay bar grant the media a license to out someone? He may or may not be gay. That is his business, not everyone who visits the website or reads a print copy of the Blade. Equal Civil Rights also includes the Right to Pursue Happiness.

        • customartist

          April 25, 2016 at 5:12 pm

          I don’t think it includes keeping quiet while I am harmed so that he can keep the money flowing. Nope. I don’t buy it.

  2. Daniel

    April 12, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    This is absolutely trash journalism, consisting of a series of completely unsubstantiated rumors from an anonymous source that outs an innocent bystander.

    This story should be immediately retracted, and the Blade should have a thorough review of its (lack of) editorial guidelines.

    • GroupThinkSucks

      April 12, 2016 at 3:56 pm

      He campaigns for his father. He is hardly an innocent bystander. He’s a big republican like his father.

      • Jeff

        April 12, 2016 at 5:25 pm

        Any evidence he does this GTS?

    • uhhuhh

      April 12, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      What a drama queen! We have no obligation to help a grown man hide like a coward. If he’s hitting the bars, he’s fair game. Equality means treating being gay the same as any other benign trait, not treating it like a secret, horrifying cancer diagnosis. Get out of your fetal position.

      • Danny D

        April 12, 2016 at 8:58 pm

        He is not a public figure. He was a victim of an assault. If you, not being a public figure, does something in a public setting, does that make it fair game, for public ridicule? Doesn’t victims of hate crimes, absent being the sons of governor, have a right to be shielded of shielded from the public eye?

        Being gay means treating all people equally, without the fear or maligned attitude, we have been victims of for centuries.

        It must be heavy carrying all that hate on your back day in and day out behind the cloak of annominity.

        • Happiness Seeker

          April 13, 2016 at 4:33 pm

          He campaigns for his father. I think he is enough of a public figure.

        • customartist

          April 25, 2016 at 5:09 pm

          Would it be okay of the Governor’s wife did not speak up about the Governor evading taxes or embezzling State funds?

  3. Celeste Swaim-Gray

    April 12, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Danny, no one threw anyone under the bus, when everyone already knew who was on the bus. Get real.

    • Danny D

      April 12, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      Really? Everyone? Hyperbole, much? This is what is wrong with America today. The guy was a victim of an assault and yet he now becomes public fodder. The guy isn’t a public official, yet he is treated like one. This is digital muckraking at its worst. #Shame

      • uhhuhh

        April 12, 2016 at 8:02 pm

        Get over it, closet case. If he’s hanging out at gay bars, he’s no struggling teen. We have no obligation to help grown men hide. Equality means treating being gay the same as any other characteristic, not like a deep, dark, shameful secret. It’s not a cancer diagnosis. Stop cowering.

        • customartist

          April 25, 2016 at 5:08 pm

          Well said

      • customartist

        April 25, 2016 at 5:07 pm

        He enjoys the rewards of the office.

    • John Heinis

      April 14, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      Everyone???? I live in Florida and had no idea or interest in the family members of a Red Neck Conservative Fake Christian Governor who promotes Hate & Bigotry. What does the bastard’s son have to do with mess?

      • customartist

        April 25, 2016 at 5:06 pm

        You believe he is NOT gay?
        You believe that he has no responsibility to address his father publicly?
        I do on both accounts.

  4. tonyinstpete

    April 12, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Mississippi’s and North Carolina’s governors (and now, sadly, it seems Tennessee) should hear that we are not going to step foot in their states, not even vacation and gamble in Biloxi1 (just kidding!) Mississippi’s law is the most draconian of all. Governor Phil Bryant can be reached at (601) 359-3150. or you can send him a message through a contact form on his website:
    http://www.governorbryant.com/contact

    Perhaps most imporantly, one of the few major industries Mississippi has is shipbuilding on the Gulf Coast with a heavy Navy emphasis. There is right now an active petition on the “We the People’ portion of the whitehouse.gov website that seeks to rescind a large ($600 million) Navy contract with Mississippi’s largest private employer. It now only has a pitifully small number (375 or so) signatures and needs several thousand before it would ordinarily elicit a response from President Obama: Go to:

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/rescind-navy-contract-ingalls-shipbuilding-due-state-senate-bill-1523-legalizing-denial-necessities

    • Steven Quiz

      September 11, 2016 at 12:21 am

      This is the exact reason we have bills like this, you people are sue crazy. Just because someone does not believe the same as you does not mean you have the right to sue. Im sure you can find 15 cake bakeries that will make you a cake. You dont need a pastor to marry you also.

    • Eli Odell Jackson

      March 6, 2017 at 10:21 am

      Ho ho ho! Stay away, Stay away, Stay away, from Dixie!

  5. Justin

    April 12, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    For anyone that knows Patrick, they would know this to be untrue. The incident and “the move” happened years apart. He moved to Austin because he got a promotion. In journalism school, we learned you could have an unnamed source, but needed more than one. The Washington Blade is trash! I have lost all respect and will not pick it up anymore nor take it seriously!

    • citizen kane

      April 13, 2016 at 3:19 am

      Justin, it breaks my heart that you no longer trust the Washington Blade.

    • customartist

      April 25, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      So Justin, should hypothetically we be quiet if the Governor himself were discovered to be gay?

  6. carrotcakeman

    April 12, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    What a lot of sock puppets!

  7. WesternIowan

    April 13, 2016 at 12:30 am

    Appalling these state governments are trying to use religion to violate the First Amendment rights of LGBT Americans. They falsely claim it is religious rights vs sexual orientation rights when it is religious rights vs religious rights. A law passed to use religion to harm heterosexuals, latinos, or disabled people would clearly be a violation of the religious rights of those heterosexuals, latinos, or disabled people. This is no different.

    • Steven Quiz

      September 11, 2016 at 12:18 am

      Maybe stop suing people for all their money when they wont serve you due to there religious beliefs and we would not need this bill! Its as simple as that. The bill is not about discrimination but protecting people who don’t think the same way as you do to keep them from being sued. If you people would just say “Ok I respect your opinion” Instead of destroying everyone else’s first amendment rights we would not have this bill. You people created the problem with your intolerance to others opinions. P.S you cant compare the rights of homosexuals to that of Latinos due to the fact homosexuals are not a race.

      • WesternIowan

        September 12, 2016 at 1:15 pm

        So when your family is in an accident, you will give the doctor permission to walk away from the operating table if it conflicts with his/her religious beliefs, right? Or is it only some people who get sanctimonious bigotry cloaked in religion protected under your scheme?

      • Cmj

        December 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm

        Better yet, run them out of business. Or go live in the Middle East where they kill gays.

  8. Margaret Mestas Cordova

    April 13, 2016 at 6:07 am

    No wonder individuals are so against religion with this idiot playing God! No one has the right to judge others and make them targets as though they were complete trash! I wonder what this Phil Bryant is doing behind closed doors? Jerk!

  9. Margaret Mestas Cordova

    April 13, 2016 at 6:13 am

    The bible says at Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Guess what ? That means every last one of us…no one is exempt including Phil Bryant! The next time a person gets to thinking that their just a little bit better than the next person think of the scripture at Romans 3:23. What this man has done is very extreme!

    • customartist

      April 25, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      Agreed.

  10. maryland

    April 13, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    What ever happened to not outing someone?

    • customartist

      April 25, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      The Governor knows that his son is gay, period. This is not new news.
      Does the son enjoy some privilege from the proceeds of his father’s office? I believe so.
      Does the son have some responsibility for addressing his father’s actions, and does he go along with his father’s actions quietly? Seems so.
      Does his Father the Governor take hurtful actions against LGBT’s in order to save his seat? Yes again.
      I never want to hurt others who have not hurt me or others, but I believe that the case is substantially different here. You don’t hurt me or others so that you can get the big fat paycheck.

    • Joseph Singer

      July 9, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      It was an “open secret” so he was already kinda out, people just didn’t talk about it…

  11. BookMike

    April 14, 2016 at 11:39 am

    Mississippi sounds just as despicable as I always assumed it was.

    • rondonaghe

      May 5, 2016 at 7:03 pm

      There’s a difference between the gerrymandered republicans in the Mississippi legislature and the rest of the politicians who find it more difficult to get elected to the Haley Barbor’s gerrymandering, which sliced up the voting districts and put Democrats at a great disadvantage (but that’s a whole other issue). There are plenty of Democrats and Independents in Mississippi, along with plenty of business owners who gladly serve gay people. In fact, a business in Jackson Mississippi started the “If you’re buying we’re selling” campaign, which means that they will serve LGBT people. These businesses put the buy/sell stickers in their windows. The people of Mississippi are not despicable—at least those with whom I have come into contact. In fact, I just bought a house in Columbus, Mississippi, despite the anti-gay law that has just been signed. You might more accurately say that Mississippi has a split personality, rather than just painting the whole state as despicable. I’m gay and as it so happens, so is my partner of 25 years, and we’re looking forward to moving into our new house in Mississippi.

  12. John Heinis

    April 14, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    While the “fact” (gossip) that Patrick Bryant’s sexual orientation appears to be the main topic of the article, I am concerned that the Blade or any other publication would choose to Out someone. Is this news? It is nothing more or less than malicious gossip and does nothing to advance the struggle for Equal Civil Rights.

    • customartist

      April 25, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      John,
      No. If this were mere malicious outing, then I believe that either the Governor, his wife, or Patrick himself, one of the three, would have responded.

      I find it hard to believe that the Governor of a State, with all of the power and resources available to him, does not know that his son is gay. With this said, and while enjoying the wealth and power of his office, as do his son and wife subsequently, I believe that when those people partake in such a powerful office, then they also are responsible for the decisions that they make.

      I also find it difficult to accept that we as LGBT people are forced into bearing the difficulties that the Governor imposes electively upon us so that he can continue to enjoy his office, but that we are then responsible somehow to look after THEIR interests or feelings, and again, especially when none of them can lift a finger to help us.

      SOMEONE will soon confirm that Patrick Bryant is gay. I don’t think that this will mean a hill of beans to the Governor, because Republicans are the farthest thing from Christians that could possibly be. They ignore scripture with the greatest of ease. They actively seek out and intentionally harm “the least of us”.

      • John Heinis

        July 9, 2016 at 5:34 pm

        I stand by my statement. While your concerns have substance & merit, they do not ,in my opinion, overshadow the concern of outing (to the public) which has no bearing on the LGBT Equal Civil Rights Movement.

    • Joseph Singer

      July 9, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      No oath is inviolable.

  13. josephlogston

    April 14, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    The powers of the money of the capitalist G0D, for the morals and gullibility self holiness within these myths as tools for political tool powers over the masses, as we see the gays are just scapegoats to these power & greedy hungry creeps among us in our public lawmaking system that’s supposed to serve, & protect us from this very thing we have that infiltrated into our protecting people’s government!!!

  14. Mark Cichewicz

    April 14, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Boycotting Mississippi is fun join in please.

  15. Evan

    April 15, 2016 at 10:31 am

    The really stupid aspect about all of these “so-called” religious freedom advocates, are that they really aren’t an active participant in a wedding ceremony. Most are selling products and services for the celebration of the marriage, not the ceremony itself. The only thing you really need for the ceremony are the two people getting married and someone to officiate the wedding. Everything else is window dressing or for the celebration afterwords.

  16. customartist

    April 25, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    I trust the author, Michael K. Lavers. Thank you.

  17. rondonaghe

    May 5, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    I always feel sorry for the gay children of religious and political bigots. For one thing, the gay children have more choices to make than even gay children with ordinary parents. Gay children of religious and political bigots quite often try to support their parents, even when the parents slap them in the face with their actions: Phyllis Schlafley, Phil Bryant, and other bigot celebrities through their own children under the bus.

  18. Margaret Mestas Cordova

    August 24, 2016 at 8:37 am

    That’s such a big fat lie! They said the same thing about Jesus. They accused him of so many things and they were all lies. The bible condemns homosexuality either way! What you do is your business all us bible thumpers are commanded to do is preach Gods Kingdom. Some listen and some do not. It’s up to you! But I assure you God will judge us all. He will not change his standards to suit homosexuals. He destroyed Sodom and Gamorrah because of homosexuality and he will do the same today regardless of what you think. It’s wrong either way!

  19. Steven Quiz

    September 11, 2016 at 12:26 am

    If you do not want HB 1523 just stop suing Christians who refuse to bake your cake or marry you due to their religious beliefs. There are numerous other options other than that specific bakery or pastor. All this suing is doing is making some lazy homosexuals live off of some other persons cash.

  20. Alston shed

    November 8, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Gov. Bryant and his wife HATE gay people, and are especially ashamed of their son. Ho hum…thus is the State of this (loving Christian) State. Vote Trump to make America and Mississippi HATE again!

  21. Alston shed

    November 8, 2016 at 9:29 am

    Making Mississippi HATE again, and again, and again!

  22. Margaret Mestas Cordova

    December 21, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Wonder what you are doing?

  23. LampasasCrockett

    August 6, 2017 at 10:35 am

    What kind of a supposedly Christian person would advocate allowing doctors to refuse medical care to someone because of their sexual orientation? An incredibly ignorant one.

  24. Cmj

    December 9, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Sickening bigots that claim their sickness is according to the bible. What a bunch of morons. It’s amazing these people think a god had anything to do with the bible. It was bunch of men like the evangelicals we see today trying to brainwash people into their beliefs claiming god say so. Nothing like blind sheep swallowing anything and thinking it’s going to get them to a heaven we have no proof exists. DUST TO DUST AND BLOW BACK INTO THE UNIVERSE.

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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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