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Bannon appointment ‘toxic’ for LGBT community

‘Alt-right’ conservative assailed for anti-Semitic, misogynistic views

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President-elect Donald Trump has selected Steve Bannon as chief strategist. (Screenshot via YouTube).

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Steve Bannon as chief strategist. (Screenshot via YouTube).

Despite a pledge to unite the country after his victory in the presidential election, Donald Trump has invoked the ire of progressives for selecting an “alt-right” conservative with a reputation for anti-Semitic, misogynistic and anti-LGBT views as a top adviser.

Trump named Steve Bannon, executive chair of the conservative website Breitbart News, to the role of chief strategist in the White House at the same time the president-elect designated Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus as chief of staff.

Labeled a white nationalist, Bannon has a history of hostile comments against minority groups and led a news website that published controversial material and promulgated conspiracy theories. Among Breitbart posts are pieces referring to Bill Kristol, a Republican, as a “Renegade Jew,” suggesting “Young Muslims in the West are a ticking time bomb,” calling the Confederate flag a symbol of “a glorious heritage” and extolling the alt-right movement as a “smarter” version of “old-school racist skinheads.”

Media outlets this week called attention to Bannon’s racist and anti-Semitic views, but LGBT people have also been in his crosshairs.

During a radio interview in 2011 in which he defended Sarah Palin against criticism, Bannon used an anti-gay slur to describe women with progressive views.

“These women cut to the heart of the progressive narrative,” he explained. “That’s one of the unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement — that, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be feminine, they would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England.”

Amid objections from anti-LGBT advocates over Target stores allowing transgender people to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity, Bannon during a radio interview in May stoked fears with anti-transgender comments.

Bannon contended that rather than being inclusive, Target was “trying to exclude people who are decent, hard-working people who don’t want their four-year-old daughter to have to go into a bathroom with a guy with a beard in a dress.”

Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement Bannon’s appointment is “a betrayal of the American people and of our democracy.”

“No one associated with the toxic views Mr. Bannon has espoused and purveyed through his news agency should be given a platform, much less elevated to a position of such prominence in our national government,” Kendell said. “We applaud those who have spoken out in opposition to Mr. Bannon’s appointment and we urge others to speak out now. We cannot look the other way as individuals who have spread messages of racism, anti-Semitism and the disparagement of women are put into positions of power and influence.”

Among those who’ve praised Bannon’s appointment are former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, who called the choice “excellent,” and American Nazi Party Chair Rocky Shady. Meanwhile, civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, have called on Trump to rescind the appointment.

Cathy Renna, a lesbian New York-based public affairs specialist, said Trump’s selection of Bannon means “he’s gone from wearing a white hood to going into the White House, and I think that’s incredibly troubling for so many people.”

“I honestly think that this is a time where if you’re looking at someone like Bannon, we’re looking at someone who really targets so many different marginalized communities and minority populations and folks who have served as a target of discrimination and hate in this country, and what he does is he simply throws gasoline on the fire,” Renna said.

Led by gay Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), a group of 169 U.S. House Democrats sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday calling on him to remove Bannon as chief strategist on the basis the selection undermines national unity.

“Since the election there have been a number of incidents across the country in which minorities, including Muslim Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Jewish Americans, have been the targets of violence, harassment and intimidation,” the letter says. “Mr. Bannon’s appointment sends the wrong message to people who have engaged in those types of activities, indicating that they will not only be tolerated, but endorsed by your Administration. Millions of Americans have expressed fear and concern about how they will be treated by the Trump Administration and your appointment of Mr. Bannon only exacerbates and validates their concerns.”

Breitbart hasn’t attacked gay people as much as other minority groups. One of the website’s star writers is Milo Yiannopoulos, who’s gay. A Trump supporter, Yiannopoulos has called Trump the most pro-gay candidate ever for raising the alarm about the danger Islamic extremists pose to LGBT people.

But Yiannopoulos himself has taken far-right views such as claiming all Muslims are Islamic extremists and has attacked transgender people as mentally ill. Yiannopoulos has written controversial pieces that have denigrated minorities, including articles with headlines such as “Birth Control Makes Women Crazy and Unattractive,” “Would You Rather Your Child Have Feminism or Cancer?” and “Gay Rights Have Made Us Dumber.”

A representative for Bannon and Breitbart didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment for this article.

Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to Trump, defended Bannon on Tuesday during an interview on the Today show by touting his education and military service. Conway is a former pollster for the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage.

“I promise you he’s not scary, and he is as brilliant a tactician—and our campaign general, frankly, on the field—as everyone is also saying,” Conway said. “I know him well, I worked hand-in-glove with him. I feel that these charges are very unfair.”

Bannon isn’t the only one on Trump’s team that may spell trouble for LGBT people.

Trump’s selection of Reince Priebus as chief of staff could compel the president-elect to uphold the principles of the 2016 Republican Party platform, which seeks to undermine the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in favor of same-sex marriage, deny LGBT protection from discrimination under the law and hints at support for widely discredited “ex-gay” conversion therapy.

Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, hailed the selection of both Priebus and Bannon to the White House, but had special praise for the RNC chief.

“I have worked closely with Reince over the last five years as he revitalized the GOP by returning the party to its true conservative principles as is evidenced by the GOP’s solidly conservative platform,” Perkins said. “He has made the GOP more effective through the implementation of a solid infrastructure that facilitated an outstanding ground game for Republicans. His leadership in rebuilding the party and promoting conservative principles helped set the stage for driving evangelical turnout to its highest level in recent memory.”

The views expressed by Bannon aren’t far from those expressed by Trump, who proposed a ban on all Muslims from entering the United States, raised fears about Islamic extremism and was accused of veiled anti-Semitism.

Renna said the selection of Bannon demonstrates Trump will advance “the backlash to the progress we’ve made having an African-American president for eight years, making so much progress on LGBT rights, women’s rights.”

“I think it’s been shocking in its impact in terms of really changing the election and I think it’s going to be a real time for some soul-searching by all of us who have been doing this work for so long, how do we reach people, how do we talk to people, how do we turn this tide a bit in a way that we can make some progress on,” Renna said. “I don’t think we can change Bannon’s mind anytime, but I think that there are millions of people in this country who are misplacing their anger, and it’s being directed at women and it’s very much obviously directed at Hillary Clinton.”

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44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. LynnLGBT

    November 16, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    I’m not going to discredit Trump until he disappoints me. He is our president and I will support him until I see him act out against the people. Yes, he appointed this man, and we will see what will come from it. But I won’t ridicule someone who has yet to affect the population with harm while in office. We shall wait and see. Trump isn’t even in the white house yet we should give him a chance. I hope we can get more laws protecting us in the future especially from discrimination. There are many states including Texas who doesn’t have such laws and as a result many Queer people find themselves out of a job and on the streets like this new documentary filmed by activist: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5929642/?ref_=rvi_tt Let us wait and see what he will do for and with our country.

    • lnm3921

      November 16, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      Trump has made it clear what he plans to support, religious freedom restoration acts and the FADA. He has said he opposes marriage equality and wanted to appoint SCOTUS nominees that would overturn the ruling in favor of it. Trump has been very frank about this.

      Trump seeks council from people like Rick Santorum, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell,Jr. to name a few. Tell me who your friends are a I’ll tell you who you are. Even if Trump doesn’t directly push their anti-LBGT agenda, Pence will. Trump will simply rubber stamp it.

      What laws did we advance to protect us with the GOP in charge of Congress? They won’t even give us a fair hearing on such legislation. How could it possibly be better now with both Congress and the White House under GOP control? Stop being so naïve!

      He maybe your President. So what? Obama was mine and social conservatives didn’t respect him from the moment he was elected the first time! Why should we give Trump anything? You do what you want, the rest of us will press on with fighting with or without you!

      • MrPurple

        November 17, 2016 at 1:58 pm

        “Tell me who your friends are a I’ll tell you who you are.”

        Unless, of course, your friends are Jeremiah Wright, Father Pfleger, Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers etc,then it doesn’t matter at all, right? Did you forget 2008, or is there a double standard?

        • lnm3921

          November 17, 2016 at 4:10 pm

          Tell me what specific anti lgbt agenda these people have had compared to trump’s friends! That’s the topic!

          Trump’s friends like tony Perkins are dedicated to opposing lgbt advancement in particular!!!

      • MrPurple

        November 17, 2016 at 2:02 pm

        Also, take the RFRA, rename it “Islamic Freedom Restoration Act and tell me Gay Inc would trash Indiana for that.

        • lnm3921

          November 17, 2016 at 4:16 pm

          Look missy, do you realize that RFRA covers Islam not just christendom? It’s not just for the christian religion! Get a clue before you babble your BS!!

          • Mark Hatchett

            November 18, 2016 at 11:50 am

            Sweetheart you are a master at babbling BS.

          • lnm3921

            November 18, 2016 at 12:55 pm

            I’m not your sweet hart sour tart! Do you get paid well by your right-wing loons?

          • MrPurple

            November 20, 2016 at 1:07 am

            I know that, dipshit. Still didn’t stop 2 weeks of hate based on bullshit. If that same law only applied to Muslims, Gay Inc would never have said one damn word about it.

          • lnm3921

            November 22, 2016 at 5:14 pm

            So you slithered back! Well, block head – you DKNY- don’t know nothing yet!

            the Muslim angle is just your way of deflecting the fact that christian conservatives have a clear history of being the enemies of lgbt and still are! Anything that enables someone to use the religion card to trump laws that protect us is a threat! Doesn’t matter what religion that is!

      • cat

        November 18, 2016 at 6:38 pm

        You are giving Trump quite a bit because your simplistic “if you support Trump you are stupid or racist” is the kind of name calling that pushes moderate democrats—that normally would have supported Trump—to vote against her. Not because I like Trump, but because I cannot stand the left’s smugness. [yea, yea, I am stupid bla bla bla]

        • lnm3921

          November 18, 2016 at 7:58 pm

          Did I use the words stupid or racist? Perhaps it bothers you because you know deep down inside that to be true! A nerve has been struck!

          The right thinks everyone else is stupid and all you have to do is lead them like sheep with denials in regards to what trump and the people he is putting into
          Power will do.

          Trump was very frank about what he plans to do. His picks of pence, sessions and other extremists makes it clear where we are headed!

          You keep going back to issues on race and ignoring glbt issues.

          But yes, people take comments like Mexicans are rapists and murderers and the Muslim rhetoric as racist! We can say the same about sexism with comments made. You think those were erased or forgotten?

          As for pushing moderate democrats to support the GOP, we can argue the ultra right-wing has pushed moderate republicans to be independent. Also many republicans did not endorse or support trump’s election! Will you deny that too now?

          • cat

            November 18, 2016 at 9:56 pm

            “Did I use the words stupid or racist? Perhaps it bothers you because you know deep down inside that to be true!” Well, that comment pretty much proves that you cannot get beyond insults and labels. Didn’t bother with whatever else you wrote—save it for someone that cares.

          • lnm3921

            November 18, 2016 at 10:04 pm

            Did I see you? that’s fine. You keep living with your denials and tunnel vision.

            You brought up the words racist and stupid.

          • MrPurple

            November 20, 2016 at 1:12 am

            Wow, you do like projecting and strawman arguments. Btw, neither “Mexican” nor “Muslim” are races.

            “The right thinks everyone else is stupid.”

            Comments like yours help.

          • lnm3921

            November 22, 2016 at 5:25 pm

            Racism includes ethnicity not just race or skin color. Stop yapping with your smugness as you just make a bigger fool of yourself than people already recognize you to be!

            Frankly, what the right thinks is typically always wrong so no one really cares what you think!!

          • MrPurple

            November 22, 2016 at 5:58 pm

            “as you just make a bigger fool of yourself”

            They’re not ethnicities either, shitwit.

          • lnm3921

            November 22, 2016 at 6:25 pm

            Being Mexican is toilet paper wipe! The bottom line the comments were racist! Latinos can judge that for themselves!

            Not you!

          • MrPurple

            November 22, 2016 at 6:41 pm

            “Being Mexican is toilet paper wipe!”

            You’re insane, you disgusting bigot.

          • lnm3921

            November 22, 2016 at 6:46 pm

            I mistyped I meant you! Being Mexican is an ethnicity. If you knew anything about culture you’d know that.

          • MrPurple

            November 22, 2016 at 10:18 pm

            “I mistyped”
            Yeah, right.

            “Mexican” is a nationality, twinkletits. “Hispanic” or “Latino” would be ethnicity.

            Anyway, it’s obvious you’re grossly ignorant, so your estimation of me is less than meaningless.

          • lnm3921

            November 22, 2016 at 10:30 pm

            If it was my intent I would have left it that way!

            You waste a lot of time and effort on semantics to avoid the reality that trump, your master dog, made racist comments to cater to the lowest fringe elements of your party! You can’t get around that. Latinos agree!

            You’re a homophobic sob with your anti-gay slur of twinklettes!

            If my estimation of you never mattered you wouldn’t keep
            Posting responses to my posts. Most be your head up
            Your rear end cutting off the oxygen and keeping you in the dark. Hence your BS ideology and outrageous denials of reality!

    • Blarn

      November 17, 2016 at 10:25 am

      The suggestion here is that we should either give Trump the benefit of the doubt or a blank slate. However, there is no doubt about what kind of person Trump is; he’s been demonstrating that to us for a long time (see: any of his public actions). As for the blank slate, even if you do grant that (for whatever reason), look at the appointments he’s already made. Steve “I’m not racist, I’m just white nationalist” Bannon is in a position of great power. Mike “still supports gay conversion therapy” Pence is our Vice President. Reince “(just google him)” Preibus is chief of staff. These are people who will do real damage as soon as they can.

      It is fair to say that we shouldn’t be fighting imaginary battles; there’s nothing to do now but prepare for what these people are going to try to do to us. What is not fair (or wise) is to say that we should pay respect to a man who has no respect for the office of the president or the people of this country.

    • Katrina Rose

      November 17, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      “I’m not going to discredit Trump until he disappoints me.”

      “Let us wait and see what he will do for and with our country.”

      What part of appointing a white nationalist to his innermost inner circle either can you not see or does not disappoint you?

      • MrPurple

        November 17, 2016 at 1:59 pm

        Say, maybe you can provide the evidence that the liberal media has failed to provide?

        • lnm3921

          November 17, 2016 at 11:32 pm

          Is that a Klu Klax Klan hood you’re wearing?

          • Mark Hatchett

            November 18, 2016 at 11:52 am

            My little melting snowflake the KKK was founded and sustained by the Democrat Party and most of us know it.

          • lnm3921

            November 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm

            My little underpants stain with mounting stench, most of those democrats became republicans after the Dems under Kennedy and Johnson supported the 1964 civil rights act!!! Storm Thurmond for one!!!

            You left those facts out expeditiously!

          • Mark Hatchett

            November 18, 2016 at 2:19 pm

            I left out nothing. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not have passed without Republican votes. You Democrats need to come to grips with what happened to you on Nov 8. Not only were Obama and Clinton utterly rejected, Republicans retained the House and Senate, state houses and governorships even dog catchers. The Democrat Party has ceased to be a national party and can barely be considered a regional party retaining only a few crime ridden cities. Now the DNC may be poised to choose a radical muslim as chairman. Will that make you happy?

          • lnm3921

            November 18, 2016 at 4:30 pm

            First of all, today’s Kkk I’m sure doesn’t vote for democrats they vote for the GOP. We know they didn’t vote for Obama or Hillary!

            I don’t have to come to grips with anything regarding the status quo anymore than you did when Obama was president and the Dems controlled congress!

            Don’t get so uppity or smug either! Many people didn’t vote, Hillary got a million more votes than trump in the popular vote. It wasn’t a mandate!

            As people see the GOP policies attempt to dismantle progress achieved and extremists push an agenda they don’t want things will change. Congress does have mid-term elections.

            Ryan wants to rip us off of Medicare and give us vouchers instead! They want to roll back row v. Wade! You’ll have a fight on your hands!!

            Sessions as an AG is A disaster with a very anti-lgbt record! It just a sign of things to come!

            Your arrogance and chip on your shoulder will be the beginning of your comeuppance and down fall!

            Wait until trump fails to deliver on bringing back manufacturing jobs in abundance!!! That’s a dead end industry which automation will continue to dwindle! Most economist agree he can’t do much to reverse the decline!

          • Mark Hatchett

            November 18, 2016 at 4:35 pm

            My God you spread lies. Get your ignorant hands on a copy of the Constitution of the United States and check out Article II Section I.

          • lnm3921

            November 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm

            This is obviously your full time job hack! Waiting for my response and trolling this website. Your the liar as everything I said has been reported in the press! I can back it up!

            You may think you can dupe others with your standard response fool but I’ll keep you in check!

          • lnm3921

            November 18, 2016 at 4:51 pm

            You can be sure I’ll bite you good! You’d be a woman if it was physical!

            As for sessions, gives us an example where he did good for the glbt community!

            I’m sure there will be civil unrest with him!

      • Mark Hatchett

        November 18, 2016 at 11:50 am

        Why are you lying?

  2. BruceMajors4DC

    November 17, 2016 at 11:18 am

    “Labeled a white nationalist” – by whom?

    Do you still rape your pre-teen brother?

    • lnm3921

      November 17, 2016 at 11:29 pm

      He praises the Confederate flag which is a symbol of white nationalism. An article he wrote has been clearly illustrated by major news outlets!

      • Mark Hatchett

        November 18, 2016 at 11:45 am

        My God you love to spread nonsense!

        • lnm3921

          November 18, 2016 at 12:53 pm

          Says the breitbart hack!! Who are you kidding! You have yet to post anything but boldface right-wing BS. You haven’t proven anything I’ve said to be none fact!

  3. Jim Guinnessey

    November 17, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Well Trump is only the latest imbecile to create problems for Gay persons in the USA. The shallow and opportunistic Republican Party has funded and sponsored hateful anti LGBT venomous propaganda for decades.

    • Mark Hatchett

      November 18, 2016 at 11:48 am

      So Hillary Clinton accepting millions upon millions from Middle Eastern countries and wishing to bring tens of thousands of gay hating men to the USA is OK with you. Your woman lost…bigly time!

  4. Bill_Perdue

    November 17, 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Trump’s election is a green light for anti-bigots, anti-immigrant racists and union busters. Trump is going to make even more hateful appointments and policies because the Democrats nominated an unelectable rightwing candidate who was rejected by millions of radicalized youth, including Black Lives Matter activists and former Sanders supporters who abandoned him and the DP when he, as expected, abandoned them in favor of another Clinton.

    This is the third night of continuing mass demonstrations which spread to new cities and are growing. Built by social media and networking with cells, they are remarkable for their spontaneity, solidarity and the breadth of communities and movements involved. The base of anti-Trump forces will grow even larger as it becomes clear that he cannot make good, and doesn’t want to make good, on his promises.

    The natural instinct of the demonstrators is absolutely correct – to build a mass movement around every rightward step of the Trump regime, and there will be many. Mass action is the way to win. Bogus involvement in the DP attempts to reform it and the RP are the way to lose.

    • Mark Hatchett

      November 18, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Why are you lying?

  5. Reddfoxx1971

    January 27, 2017 at 2:15 am

    Steve: you , Pence and Jeff Sessions need to get to work on bringing back DOMA once new SCOTUS justice is appointed. We have your power to put those disgusting sodomite homosexuals back in the closet and away from our school kids !

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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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