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Metro bus driver ‘glad’ over Orlando murders: source

Investigation underway into complaint filed by passenger

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Metro bus, gay news, Washington Blade

Investigation underway into complaint filed by passenger.

A gay man filed a complaint against a Metro bus driver this week accusing the driver of enthusiastically agreeing with another passenger’s statements that he was glad that 49 patrons in an Orlando gay nightclub were shot to death by a lone gunman on June 12.

Gay D.C. resident Dwayne Smith, 54, told the Washington Blade he was shocked and offended when he overheard the driver of the H8 bus that travels through the city’s Brookland section express what appeared to be his approval of the Orlando slayings.

In a written compliant he filed with Metro, Smith said the incident began when an elderly man boarded the bus at Hawaii Avenue and 2nd Street, N.E. and remained standing next to the driver after he paid his fare.

“He [the passenger] said he was glad that they shot the gay people and talked negatively about gays and lesbians,” Smith states in his complaint. “To my surprise, the bus driver was agreeing with everything he said. I was waiting and watching to see how long he was going to keep it up,” Smith’s complaint says.

Smith told the Blade he was sitting two rows from the driver on the door side of the bus while on his way to work for his night job at 10:15 p.m. on Monday, June 13.

“I began to feel uncomfortable,” Smith says in his complaint. “I had intended to go to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station but I exited the bus at the Brookland station,” his complaint says. “I was going to address the situation, but as I was arising to leave I looked at another passenger who saw my distress and motioned that I not say anything probably because I would have made the situation worse.”

In his complaint, Smith urged Metro officials to “check your audio and video for this hate speech in which your employee participated.” He said he planned to report the incident to the D.C. police LGBT Liaison Unit.

“I am requesting that the driver face a suspension and also receive professional development training,” his complaint says.

Smith forwarded to the Blade an email response he received from his complaint from Jeremy Franklin, Metro’s director of customer service.

“Thank you for contacting us to report this incident,” Franklin says in his email. “I apologize that you had to endure this unacceptable behavior from one of our employees.”

Franklin added, “I have escalated this complaint for investigation and I will follow up with you when I have the outcome. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if you need any assistance while the investigation is ongoing.”

In a statement to the Blade, Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel said, “Metro shares in the nation’s grief over Sunday’s attack on an LGBT nightclub.”

The statement adds: “We are aware of a complaint of a bus operator allegedly ‘agreeing’ with an unidentified passenger who made disturbing, unacceptable statements about the tragedy in Orlando. We have responded to the individual who submitted the complaint and are working to gather additional facts as part of an investigation.”

In response to Smith’s request in his complaint that Metro check the “audio and video” to look into the driver’s alleged “hate speech,” Stessel said, “Our busses do not record audio.”

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Brian Tatem

    June 16, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    H8 bus is about right…

    • Brian's Ions

      June 17, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      And it raises a more serious question…

      If Metro truly cares about the public safety and justice for its LGBTQ riders, why hasn’t this Metro bus driver been suspended, pending all police investigations and findings regarding this apparent crime?

      How many more DC area LGBTQ riders are possibly going to be targeted by a homophobic, threatening hate or stalking crime perpetrator — who continues to be enabled and protected by Metro’s institutionally biased management?

      And why hasn’t Metro’s General Manager Paul Weidefeld addressed this despicable incident himself?
      .

      • lnm3921

        June 18, 2016 at 1:15 am

        Can the police do anything about hate speech? You can punish the driver but the passenger that initiated the topic apparently goes unscathed.

      • Pilot

        June 22, 2016 at 11:11 am

        What was the crime? I’m missing something. The KKK can have rallies and say the “N” word all day and they never seemed to get charged with a crime… So how is someone being negative about gays a crime? Even if they talked about how happy they were about the deaths of these innocents, a crime? No. Unprofessional and possible violation of work place rules, yes.

        • Brian's Ions

          June 23, 2016 at 8:24 am

          Yeah, you are missing quite a lot.

          This public threat and/or stalking event (IMHO) was perpetrated by a mass transit operator– while hurtling a bus of passengers through city traffic. The driver essentially announced that he personally favored the terrorism and mass murder of gay people in Orlando.

          That could be perceived as a an intentional terrorist threat– and/or a bias-related threat. Threat are defined in DC criminal law, too.

          So, imagine what would happen if *ANY* airline company employee said the same thing while passengers were boarding a flight? How about a uniformed pilot or co-pilot saying the same thing?

          BTW, DC has an anti-stalking law that might apply, as well– depending on the facts and circumstances. DC’s hate crimes law predated its stalking law, so stalking is not a “designated act” under the hate crimes law– though it should be. A 50% hate crime punitive enhancement can not apply to stalking.

          I’m not a legal eagle, so do consult the DC Criminal Code and/or a DC lawyer (of which we have a few) to verify.
          .

  2. lnm3921

    June 16, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    Why do gay people always say they are shocked by these incidents? Do they live in bubbles??

    How can you be 54 years old and be shocked by this? This was common over your lifetime. You couldn’t exit a gay bar without someone driving by and yelling anti-gay slurs at you a few decades ago and bashing was a constant threat even in gay neighborhoods or hangout places. What is shocking is that gay people now think being gay is a non-issue in America. Is race a non-issue in America? Hello??

    So you go after the bus driver but say nothing to the old man? You could have recorded the incident on your phone as proof. If it had been me, both of them would get an earful from me!

  3. lnm3921

    June 16, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    How can you be 54 years old and be shocked by this? At your age you should have lived through decades of lots of anti-gay slurs when exiting bars and worrying about bashing even in gay neighborhoods. The callousness of homophobia has no limits. It’s said enough seeing gay people under 30 living in a bubble thinking being gay in America doesn’t matter anymore in America.

    Why did you just single out the bus driver? Why does the elderly guy get a free pass? Record the incident on your phone. I would have told them both off!

    • Tony

      June 17, 2016 at 1:46 am

      Why slam the guy? Hindsight is always 20/20. Hate might be commonplace, doesn’t make it nonetheless shocking.

      • lnm3921

        June 18, 2016 at 1:12 am

        Well, In my experience such attitudes have been the norm not the exception toward LGBT and I’ve experienced or witnessed far worse. Orlando doesn’t really shock me either. Being out has been a risk and dangerous in my lifetime and I still believe that despite greater acceptance it is unwise to think differently now.

        Older gay people have commented to me they are surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Some one that age should have experienced it, too.

        Being shocked to me is being caught by surprise by something like that as an uncommon event. I guess having developed a thicker skin and been a lot more militant out of necessity in years past gives me a different perspective.

        I agree with his indignation though and reporting it. However if he depends on metro to come up with the proof for him he maybe in for a rude awakening. The bus driver may get punished but the old fool gets away unscathed to do it again elsewhere!

      • lnm3921

        June 18, 2016 at 1:46 am

        Oh, btw, just this week someone in this forum told me that gay activism is evil and that a pastor in Sacramento saying we deserved to all be put before a firing squad was fine if we are going to push for our rights. This is nothing new to me.

        Have you experienced your own relatives saying they would rather see a child dead than gay? What can shock you anymore when it comes to homophobia?

        • Misha Kessler

          June 19, 2016 at 3:47 pm

          What in the world is the benefit of slamming younger LBGT adults, making blanket statements about them “living in a bubble,” and acting like your experience of homophobia is so much more legitimate than ALL gay and queer people under 30?

          “It’s sad enough seeing gay people under 30 living in a bubble thinking being gay in America doesn’t matter anymore. But you can chock that up to being naïve and not being exposed to reality. Orlando was probably the only real exposure to reality in their lives… Have you ever experienced your own relatives saying they would rather see a child dead than gay?”

          Seriously? As a 25 year old gay man, yes, I have. I’ve heard my own relatives say incredibly atrocious things, including arguments that HIV was “God’s cure” for homosexuality. I’ve also seen friends’ lives threatened by their own family. I’ve seen physical abuse that results in bruising and scarring. I’ve seen way too many young gay men take their own lives, rather than continue living in such harsh environments.

          Acting like all LGBT people under 30 are completely out of touch with reality, and completely unaccustomed to homophobia, is in NO WAY conducive to this conversation.

          I have no doubt that older generations of LGBTQ people, including some of my close mentors, have experienced many, many atrocious acts of homophobia, and I’m incredibly grateful to them for forging ahead for me and my generation, but you need to get off your high horse and stop making blanket assumptions about “gay people under 30.”

          • lnm3921

            June 19, 2016 at 5:18 pm

            I’ve seen enough comments the past few years to indicate otherwise. people saying we need to integrate and our sexual identities are not an issue anymore. The complacency ihas been dangerous, shortsighted and naive! The bubble comment is spot on.

            If Orlando hadn’t happened I’d be told that I was whining about being a victim. in fact only a few weeks before I was told just that!

            When we won marriage equalty everyone acted like the floodgates to full acceptance and equality were open and nothing could stop us. Gay conservatives were posting that we should give up on our activism and move on and instead support the GOP.

            You get off your high horse thinking you know better! Your experience Wasn’t resonating anymore within the community and was being chalked up to isolated rare incidents!

            And it’s not just the under 30 crowd that is guilty of it. I stand by what I’ve said sonny boy and make no apologies! Get over it!

  4. Brian's Ions

    June 17, 2016 at 6:51 am

    Blah blah blah dee blah. More unbelievable Metro PR excuses again from Metro’s hired gums.

    Metro’s reputation as an institutionally homophobic/ transphobic organization is reinforced yet again. They have had plenty of time to do so, but Evans and Weidefeld haven’t done a thing about stopping WMATA’s institutional bigotry and its encouragement of anti-LGBT hate crimes.

    Where are the Public Service poster adverts Metro used to display in order to inform and educate passengers about anti-LGBT hate crimes?

    This incident was blatant, OFFICIAL harassment against LGBTQ passengers, pure and simple.

    The driver in this instance should not be “retrained.” He should be FIRED for participating, aiding and abetting anti-LGBT hate and stalking crimes against LGBT passengers on Metro.

    If LGBT passengers were made to feel uncomfortable by implied threats of violence and anti-LGBT murder, at the very least, this was a violation of DC’s anti-stalking law. LGBTLU and MPD ought investigate and prosecute on that basis…
    http://dccode.org/simple/sections/22-3133.html

    BTW, stalking is not a designated act under DC’s hate crimes law. That’s another reason why voters should fire self-described “LGBT-friendly” politicians Mendelson and McDuffie from the Council.
    .
    ————————–
    **
    The statement adds: “We are aware of a complaint of a bus operator allegedly ‘agreeing’ with an unidentified passenger who made disturbing, unacceptable statements about the tragedy in Orlando. We have responded to the individual who submitted the complaint and are working to gather additional facts as part of an investigation.”**

  5. MyAss

    June 17, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Let’s get it straight.
    Your were comfortably sitting there, expecting the bus driver to fight your battles, and preferring to “feel shocked”?
    And then getting back home and filing a complaint against the driver?
    Sheesh…

    • Brian's Ions

      June 17, 2016 at 9:09 am

      You prefer straight hate, huh?

      • lnm3921

        June 18, 2016 at 1:21 am

        ??

    • Joseph Singer

      June 18, 2016 at 9:18 am

      I think, though, you’d agree it was unprofessional. I’d love more details, though, on what gave the impression the driver was agreeing with the customer. For all we know he could have been nodding and saying “‘mmm-hmmm” to get the guy to shut up.

      • Brian's Ions

        June 19, 2016 at 4:06 am

        Seriously? Other than homophobic bias, why do you doubt the gay complainant’s account?

        Who really thinks an affirmative “mmm-hmmm” would be a good way to get the guy to merely “shut up,” as you put it?

        That’s simply not credible. You appear to be blaming the victim(s) of this homophobic harassment. Why?

        I think most reasonable people would agree that the Metro’s bus driver’s affirmative response to the subject’s endorsement of a mass murder of gay people was intended to publicly approve and encourage the violent homophobia both the driver and his hate crime stalker friend were publicly expressing.
        .

        • Joseph Singer

          June 19, 2016 at 11:47 am

          As a gay man I’d sincerely hope to be free of homophobic bias! My point is, humans are notorious for misinterpreting things. and the article is frustratingly low on details,making it hard to know for sure how accurate the account is

          • Brian's Ions

            June 23, 2016 at 8:54 am

            Thanks for clarifying.

            And no, I didn’t take you for a J. Edgar or Roy Cohn… and, OMG(!) how may closeted GOP Members of Congress over the years? LOL.

            It is true, however, the LGBT people in positions power can– for any one of several motives– act with homophobic and/or transphobic intent.

            I just believe, after Orlando, we all ought to be more watchful, grateful and encouraging of those who take the time to report anti-LGBTQ hate and or terrorist sympathies.

            What’s despicable in this instance is that Metro hasn’t suspended the driver while investigating the complaint. Nor has Weidefeld made a serious statement about it. Given Metro’s past hate crime cover-ups, that further underscores Metro’s culture of homophobia and transphobia.

            And it certainly calls into question Metro General Manager Weidefeld’s bizarre avoidance of anti-LGBT hate crimes topics at all.

            Why wouldn’t Metro’s GM want to personally reassure the area’s LGBTQ passengers of his standards for their public safety?
            .

  6. Brian's Ions

    June 17, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Well, that’s good, if you’re comfortable with that and your facts and circumstances permitted you to do so. Every case is different.

    Where did your incident occur? And what became of it?

    In this instance, of course, the victim of this apparent hate or stalking crime should be congratulated here for bringing this case to light– and for filing a report with MPD’s LGBTLU– however dubious its credibility is these days.

    I’d like to read about how MPD has written it up in its 251 report– and we should know what the police CCN number is so we can track it.

    The victim in this case certainly doesn’t deserve the unfair criticism and carping he’s getting elsewhere here in comments from what should be a supportive LGBT ally.
    .

  7. lnm3921

    June 18, 2016 at 1:30 am

    And what was the result of that report with the police? Was justice served? Can the police really do something for you for a slur?

  8. Brian's Ions

    June 19, 2016 at 4:09 am

    Metro’s driver certainly knew the implied violent threats he and his passenger friend were conveying to any LGBT Metro riders within earshot of their conversation.

    I hope the Blade finds out soon whether said Metro driver has been suspended or not, pending a thorough Metro Transit Police’s investigation. And for that matter, who at Metro Transit Police is handling the investigation?

    Jack Evans and Paul Weidefeld ought to inform the area’s LGBTQ riders just how much OFFICIAL Metro homophobic/ transphobic harassment of LGBTQ riders WMAATA will continue to tolerate.
    .

  9. the_big_bandicoot

    June 20, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Whats the chance that the h8r will even be reprimanded?

  10. Brian's Ions

    June 23, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Thanks. That turned out well for a much lower level bias-related crime (biased name-calling with aggressive conduct as a mass transit vehicle operator) than the terrorist and implied hate-crime threats that have been elements of this Metro operator’s conduct.

    Still, I would caution the general public about negotiating on their own with Metro. And in any event, make sure that they receive a CCN# from responding MPD police officers, and that a copy of the police report (Form 251) is obtained from any MPD District Station after 24 hours.

    It is just as bad if DC’s police violate the law by failing to report such suspected hate crime incidents on the 251 and to the FBI and/or ‘losing’ the 251 report altogether.
    .

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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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