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Will gay Republicans back Trump?

Blade survey finds some won’t, though many already on board

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Donald Trump, D.C. Republican straw poll, gay news, Washington Blade

Donald Trump (Photo by Andy Katz; courtesy Bigstock)

Some of the nation’s most prominent gay Republicans, including former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, have said they are not supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

But like big name Republican elected officials and party leaders across the country, an informal Washington Blade survey has found LGBT Republican activists are divided over whether Trump should become the next U.S. president.

A majority of the prominent LGBT Republicans contacted by the Blade say they are supporting Trump, who’s now considered the presumptive GOP nominee, although not all of them appear enthusiastic in their support.

“As chairman of the D.C. GOP, I will support the party’s nominee,” said Jose Cunningham, the gay chair of the D.C. Republican Party. “Mr. Trump is on a roll and Republicans across the country will support him in droves,” Cunningham told the Blade in a statement.

Longtime gay Republican activist Bob Kabel, an elected D.C. Republican Committeeman and, like Cunningham, a member of the Republican National Committee, said he too is supporting Trump.

“I’m in the position where I will back the Republican presidential and vice presidential nominees,” Kabel said. “I feel it’s important to take back the White House.”

Added Kabel, “In all candor, I think Trump will be fine on LGBT issues. I don’t agree with him on some other issues, but he will at least not do anything bad on gay issues.”

One of the nation’s most prominent gay Republicans, former U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona who served for 22 years in Congress before retiring in 2007, said he would not support Trump in the general election.

“He is manifestly unqualified to be president of the United States, having demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of policy issues or how he would work within the system to achieve his goals,” Kolbe said in a statement to the Blade.

“Moreover, he has repeatedly demonstrated an authoritarian streak that runs completely counter to the democratic values of this country,” Kolbe said.

Like most other LGBT Republicans contacted by the Blade who are opposing Trump, Kolbe did not say who, if anyone, he would support in the November presidential election.

Mehlman, who served as manager of President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and served as chair of the Republican National Committee from 2005 to 2007, became one of the nation’s most prominent gay Republicans when he came out in 2010.

He didn’t immediately respond to a call from the Blade to his New York City office at the international investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, where he works. But in a Facebook posting in March, Mehlman made it clear he was not supporting Trump.

Among other things, he criticized Trump for claiming he needed to do research to find out whom former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was after rumors surfaced that Duke was supporting Trump for president. Leaders shouldn’t need research to reject support from the Klan, Mehlman wrote in his posting.

“They also don’t mock people with disabilities, insult war heroes, divide people by religion and nationality, and insult women. #NeverTrump,” Mehlman wrote in his Facebook posting.

Scott Evertz, a gay Republican activist from Wisconsin who President Bush named as director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, said he has voted for every Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan.

He said he cannot support Trump because of strong differences he has over Trump’s stated positions on foreign policy and national security, many of which have been riddled with inconsistencies, Evertz said.

Although he is unsure of where Trump stands on LGBT issues, Evertz said he could not support Trump regardless of whether his positions on LGBT rights and foreign policy were consistent with his own due to Trump’s demeanor and temperament.

“I’m terribly troubled by the mean spiritedness that is the Trump campaign and has happened since the campaign began – the name calling, the suggestion about the behavior of immigrants, the attitude towards women,” Evertz told the Blade.

“My parents didn’t raise me to behave like Donald Trump,” he said. “So I have no intention of voting for someone that my parents would not have raised me to be like.”

Gregory Angelo, president of the national LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans, said the organization has a longstanding policy of not endorsing a presidential candidate until after the Republican National Convention, when the candidate is officially nominated.

One of Angelo’s predecessors, former Log Cabin head Rich Tafel, said he is not supporting Trump. Other Log Cabin activists, including one of the group’s founders in the 1980s, Frank Ricchiazzi of Nevada and his partner, longtime GOP activist Bordon Moller, are backing Trump.

Also supporting Trump is longtime gay Republican activist and former Log Cabin AIDS issues adviser Jim Driscoll, also of Nevada, and gay Massachusetts former GOP congressional candidate Richard Tisei.

“I plan to vote for Trump,” said Tisei. “I feel that Hillary Clinton clearly lacks the basic ethical standards that all in government must share,” he said. “Trump is also the best hope to change the national GOP’s position on social issues, as evidenced by his recent stand on the North Carolina law.”

Tisei was referring to Trump’s recent comment that he did not think North Carolina’s controversial, recently passed “bathroom bill” was needed. Critics of the law, including LGBT activists, say it singles out transgender people for discrimination.

Gay conservative GOP activist Richard Grenell, who served in the Bush administration as a foreign policy adviser at the United Nations and who worked briefly for former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, told Fox News he hasn’t officially endorsed Trump. But in a Fox News interview last month Grenell praised a speech Trump delivered outlining his foreign policy positions.

“There are some issues I think he has to iron out,” Grenell said of Trump’s foreign policy positions. “But overall I thought that it was a speech that really challenges the elites in Washington, the status quo,” he said. “Some of these ideas are long overdue and good. And yet the status quo types, the elites in Washington, are going to have their hair on fire because they can’t control this guy.”

D.C. gay Libertarian Party activist Martin Moulton said he has joined a newly created group called Libertarians for Trump because he believes Trump is in a position to advance libertarian policies. Moulton told the Blade he also believes Trump would be supportive on LGBT issues.

Angelo, Log Cabin’s current president, said that while the group won’t make a presidential endorsement decision until after the Republican Convention in July, he said Log Cabin’s board won’t make a final decision on whether to endorse Trump at that time unless two conditions are met.

“Number one, we would need to survey our members around the country to determine whether they would personally support a Log Cabin Republicans endorsement of Donald Trump for president,” he said.

“The second, I would need to meet at the very least with the Trump campaign if not the man himself because I think at the very least we would need to discuss specifically where Trump stands on a whole host of issues,” said Angelo.

“I am on record as saying if Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination quantifiably he would be the most pro-gay nominee our party has ever had, not just because he has attended a same-sex wedding or believes that discrimination is wrong,” Angelo said.

Gregory Angelo, Log Cabin Republicans, gay news, Washington Blade

Log Cabin President Gregory Angelo (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

According to Angelo, Trump has distinguished himself by saying in the past that he supports amending the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include a provision banning sexual orientation discrimination and by giving “tens of thousands of dollars to gay charities,” including AIDS-related charities impacting gay men.

“But as with so many other things with Trump, he seems to have vacillated at times from the sympathetic tone that he’s exhibited to date to the LGBT community,” Angelo continued. “And all those things give me pause,” he said, especially Trump’s recent “chumminess” with anti-gay religious right figures Jerry Falwell Jr., Pat Robertson, and Tony Perkins.

“So until and unless we’re able to get some definitive answers to whether Donald Trump would do no harm to the progress we’ve seen in LGBT rights to date in this country or perhaps even be an ally, I’m not going to put the weight of our organization and its name or its brand behind his candidacy,” said Angelo.

Despite this cautionary note, Angelo said that in his travels throughout the country to meet with Log Cabin chapter members and rank and file LGBT Republicans he has found that most LGBT Republicans in all parts of the country except the Washington, D.C. to New York City corridor are supporting Trump.

“People who live in or between Washington, D.C. and New York City are almost to a man never for Trump and many are now considering supporting Hillary Clinton,” he said.

“LGBT Republicans I know who live outside that Acela corridor are 100 percent for Trump right now,” he said, referring to the Acela Amtrak train that connects D.C. to New York.

Angelo said he couldn’t predict how many LGBT Republicans would follow the path of those — including gay former GOP activist Charles Francis — who are supporting Hillary Clinton for president.

Francis, who led a gays-for-George W. Bush effort during the 2000 presidential campaign, left the Republican Party in 2004 after Bush and the GOP establishment came out in support of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

“I am an ex-Republican for Hillary and a donor to her campaign,” Francis told the Blade.

“Trump is more than a horrendous demagogue,” he said. “He is a threat to our democracy itself.”

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. Im Just Sayin

    May 12, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Hey Mr. Angelo, let me save you some time. Trump will say whatever you want to hear on Tuesday so that LCR endorses him on Wednesday, then retract it all on Thursday to make points with evangelicals, following up on Friday by disparaging you personally in time for the evening news cycle. In the end LCR’s endorsement of Trump will turn out as well as LCR’s leap of faith in endorsing McCain only to have him repay you by attempting to thwart repeal of DADT. The supposedly “new” LCR continues to follow the same old tired playbook.

    • lnm3921

      May 12, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      They are like dogs wagging their tails at the GOP leadership hoping to get a bone of recognition thrown at them in return for allowing the GOP to appear as compassionate conservatives for photo opportunities and duping the masses!

      You know dogs are good for having fleas cling to them!

    • A-Jay

      May 13, 2016 at 10:22 am

      Well at one time Florida passed a Constitutional Amendment #2 against Marriage fairness/equality and Candidate Obama campaigned in churches of color saying he believed marriage was between “one man and one woman.” Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment #2 subsequently passed in Florida.
      Earlier we had Federal legislation codified by President William Clinton referred to as DADT and DOMA. At one point in time Rep. Barney Frank blurted out to the media that DADT was the best thing to ever happen to gays. Yah, I know he like all the other Democrats these politicians “evolved” but after the damaged was done. Even President Clinton, at one pointe in time, went on Religious Radio and talked about how he addressed the marriage issue successfully with the introduction of DOMA.
      The agenda of bashing only Republicans is nothing more than whitewashing the historical past of Democrats and completely demonizing the GOP rather than educating and outreaching to the moderates of the “Party of Lincoln” thereby enabling change.
      Right now our nation has more credit debt than all the cash in circulation and all our Beltway Politicians keep spending with our credit cards, the Socialist Left of Party of Jefferson wants more freebees for just about everything, and its been claimed that 1/2 the population seeming doesn’t pay income taxes. Our infrastructure is in trouble and corporation after corporation is move out of the country taking $$$ abroad. How long can this hemorrhaging go on before a day of reckoning becomes a reality?
      I think we have enough lawyers in control of the seats of power responsible for creating and passing legislation. It’s time for us to get a moderate businessman like Trump into politics so we can to put this nation back onto the path of sustainable solvency. If we refuse to address this dilemma and stick our heads in the sand neither heterosexuals nor homosexuals nor bisexual will have the income and jobs to survive a lifestyles they have become accustomed to once the camouflaged-credit-market bubble bursts.
      While I too, at times, may not appreciate Trump’s New York in-your-face personality I’m tired of the gentrified and polished politicians talking the talk that makes voters only hear what they want to believe and not deal with the reality what’s actually being said, done, and legislated into law by those nursed by lobbyiest.

      • BruceMajors4DC

        May 16, 2016 at 1:59 pm

        None of that ever happened you racist! The State Department erased the video and deleted the emails that prove any of that.

    • BruceMajors4DC

      May 16, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      Much like Hildebeast then?

      • Socrates Wilde

        May 18, 2016 at 1:15 am

        Er, Lady Macbeth?

        • Thane_Eichenauer

          May 19, 2016 at 5:04 am

          Lady MacDeath. Dude.

          • Socrates Wilde

            May 19, 2016 at 6:24 pm

            Good one!

          • john doe

            May 23, 2016 at 12:05 pm

            Yes I will

          • Socrates Wilde

            May 24, 2016 at 3:01 am

            Yes you will what?

  2. tedbaldwin

    May 12, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Trump will be terrific for EVERYONE’s rights. Mst of the complaints about trump from people in the above article reference what THE MEDIA HAS SAID ABOUT TRUMP, not what trump actually said or did. I have been a gay rights advocate out publicly for 42 years. Trump is going to be great for gay people.

    • lnm3921

      May 12, 2016 at 11:23 pm

      Are you on dope or just glazing through those times that Trump says he will appointment judges that will reverse marriage equality and support religious liberty bills? He praise Jerry Fallwell, Jr. and Liberty University for their support and has appointed people like Ben Carson for his VP election committee who are very vocal about opposing our rights.

      Don’t try and scam us. We’ve heard it comes straight out of Trump’s mouth. It’s not hearsay!

      • tedbaldwin

        May 13, 2016 at 12:13 am

        a huge number of democrats ate voting Trump. Some if them are gay I am sure.

        allegedly. hahaha

        • lnm3921

          May 13, 2016 at 12:22 am

          Go peddle your snake oil elsewhere! No one with any sense is buying it

          Anyone eating voting for trump especially if they are glbt are likely to have chronic diarrhea! Hope you step in it!

      • MrPurple

        May 16, 2016 at 3:57 pm

        Do you even know for sure who Ben Carson is?

        • lnm3921

          May 16, 2016 at 10:19 pm

          Ben Carson is dedicated to opposing GLBT rights and rolling back the gains we have achieved. That’s all we need to know!

  3. tedbaldwin

    May 12, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    You need an article on Gay Democrats that are supporting Trump.

    • lnm3921

      May 12, 2016 at 11:26 pm

      Who exactly are those gay Democrats supporting Trump? Do tell since you know!

    • MadScientist1023

      May 13, 2016 at 10:03 am

      “You need an article on Gay Democrats that are supporting Trump.”
      Both of them

  4. lnm3921

    May 12, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    No surprise that brain-dead GLBT will still support Trump despite his clear agenda to support our enemies’ agenda against us. They’ve done it before. They supported Reagan and Bush and Cheney. McCain and Romney.

    They take for granted the rights they have gained thanks to the struggles of liberal activists before them and care more about their tax cuts than their civil rights. Somehow they think they are immune.They have no shame or sense of community responsibility. Just enjoy the benefits we achieve for them despite them! Talk about living off welfare!

    • MrPurple

      May 16, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      Do you really think gays will run out and get married and lose their place in the bread line? Can’t have much of a wedding when you’re unemployed and lack of growth keeps wages down.

      • lnm3921

        May 16, 2016 at 7:42 pm

        Wtf are you babbling about? Many gays work hard to earn a living just like many liberals do!

        Having a job or not hasn’t kept heterosexuals from marrying each other in the past. Doesn’t really cost much unless you want it to be a costly affair.

        As for keeping wages down, that’s something the GOP loves to do. More profits for them. They don’t want to raise the minimum wage and like to keep raises below inflation assuming any are given!

  5. Mark Cichewicz

    May 13, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Any LGBTQ
    Who votes for a republican much less DONALD USED TOO MANY DRUGS growing up. The most important thing to All LGBTQ
    IS OUR CIVIL RIGHTS. I want to see that day in my lifetime. Republicans will never make that happen. Please avoid the republican party at all costs, most of all DONALD. He is the American version of the president of N Korea.

    • MrPurple

      May 16, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      You don’t speak for me. The most important thing is the complete lack of economic growth due to “progressive” hostility towards it. We know damn well it will continue with a liberal President. I have always had my civil rights just like you and anyone else.

      • lnm3921

        May 16, 2016 at 10:11 pm

        And you don’t speak for us!

        We know damn well that wages won’t increase under a GOP President. You oppose minimum wage increases. You also promote low raise increase that often don’t keep up with inflation if any. Profits first over people getting ahead!

        Social Security COLAS aren’t going anywhere either for the elderly poor.

        Just hide who you are and you’ll always have your civil rights and have your back street quickies in between through hookup sites online!!

  6. MS

    May 13, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    I will never for the life of me understand how gays can support republicans at this time. Now maybe someday, if their party stops being so incredibly anti-gay, I could see some sense to it. But that time is not here, and until it is, I think the safety and security of this nation depends on Democrats and it pains me that there are so many gays who care more about their personal bottom line than the health of their nation.

    • MrPurple

      May 16, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      By “incredibly anti-gay”, I’m guessing you mean they don’t pander to you when they desperately need cash.

  7. Jason Stone

    May 13, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    YES! We will!

  8. Brooks Austin

    May 13, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    If Log Cabin endorses Trump, it will prove once and for all that they are traitors to the LGBT community. Gay Republicans who support Trump because they claim he’s pro LGBT or whatever are ignoring his history of flip flopping based on who his audience is. He’s already now flip flopping on his position on HB2 and claiming individual states should be allowed to make their own decisions on discriminating against LGBT employees. I’m not sure how Richard Tisei can claim with a straight face that Clinton has no ethical standards while supporting Trump who wants to ban all Muslims from America and criminalize abortion while also absurdly claiming the minimum wage is too high.

    • BruceMajors4DC

      May 16, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      Flip flopping huh. Like Hillary and Obama you mean?

      • lnm3921

        May 16, 2016 at 10:15 pm

        Nah, Trump and MItt Romney!

  9. MrPurple

    May 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I don’t have much interest in Trump, but I have even less interest in making sure President Catastrophe gets a third term and calling it “principle”. Also fairly disappointed that so many seem bent on making “authoritarian” as meaningless as “racist”.

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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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