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Trump expected to nominate ‘well-liked’ attorney as top D.C. prosecutor

Legal observers optimistic about possible U.S. Attorney pick

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A prominent gay rights attorney is among D.C. legal observers who are optimistic about the person President Trump reportedly is about to nominate as the new United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.

BuzzFeed News reported on May 11 that “multiple sources” familiar with the nominating process said Trump was about to name Asian-American attorney Jessie Liu, who previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in D.C. and worked for two prominent local law firms, as his nominee for the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s position.

Unlike the 50 states and other cities across the country, which have their own elected district attorney and chief prosecutor, the U.S. Attorney serves as D.C.’s top prosecutor for both federal and local criminal cases involving serious crime.

During the Obama administration, officials with the U.S. Attorney’s office reached out to D.C. LGBT organizations monitoring anti-LGBT violence to cooperate in efforts to obtain community input in the sentencing phase for people charged with crimes against LGBT people.

LGBT rights attorney Paul Smith argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of overturning anti-gay state sodomy laws in the 2003 landmark case Lawrence v. Texas. Smith told the Blade he got to know Liu “reasonably well” when the two were colleagues at the law firm Jenner & Block.

“She is a Republican, but that’s what you would expect,” said Smith in referring to a U.S. Attorney appointed by a Republican president.

“On the other hand, she is a person who practiced law very comfortably at a law firm which is mostly full of Democrats and a lot of gay people,” Smith said.

Smith added that unless forced to do so by “higher ups” he would not expect Liu to discontinue the cooperation between LGBT groups and the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office in cases involving the prosecution of anti-LGBT hate crimes or other matters.

From the standpoint of the LGBT community, Smith said of Liu’s possible nomination to be U.S. Attorney for D.C., “With all the problems we have to worry about this would not be one of them.”

Jonathan Jeffress, a defense attorney in private practice who formerly worked for D.C.’s federal Public Defender Service, expressed a view similar to Smith.

“I knew her when she was in the U.S. Attorney’s Office” when the two were on opposite sides as defense attorney and prosecutor, Jeffress told the Blade. “I think she is a very good choice. She is a prosecutor who is tough but fair. She is well liked in the D.C. legal community.”

The White House has declined to comment on whether Liu will be the president’s choice for the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s position.

If nominated and approved by the Senate, Liu would replace D.C.’s current U.S. Attorney, Channing Phillips, who was appointed by President Obama.

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Virginia

Va. Senate committee kills six anti-transgender bills

Democrats control chamber by 22-18 margin

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate Education Committee on Thursday killed six anti-transgender bills.

The committee rejected state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. All three measures would have banned transition-related health care for minors in Virginia.

The committee also killed state Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)’s Senate Bill 911, Reeves’ Senate Bill 1186 and Peake’s Senate Bill 962. The measures would have banned transgender athletes from school teams corresponding with their gender identity.

Equality Virginia in a tweet said committee members received more than 3,000 emails “in opposition” to the bills. The statewide advocacy group further noted 10 out of 12 anti-trans bills introduced during this year’s legislative session have been defeated.

“Thank you to everyone who has spoken up against these bills,” said Equality Virginia. “Virginia is remaining a better, more inclusive state because of your efforts.”

“The fight isn’t over,” added the advocacy group. “But we know Virginians will show up for trans youth, day after day.”

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Virginia

Va. Senate subcommittee essentially kills three anti-transgender bills

Measures would ban transition-related health care for minors

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Tuesday essentially killed three bills that would have banned transition-related health care for minors in the state.

Equality Virginia in a tweet noted the Senate Health Subcommittee “recommended killing” state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. 

“We expect these bills to be officially dead after the full committee meets on Thursday,” said Equality Virginia.

Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, and they have said they will block any anti-LGBTQ bill that reaches their chamber. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who is the first openly transgender woman seated in a state legislature in the U.S., on Tuesday reiterated this point.

“With the defeat of these bills in the Senate, our (Virginia Senate Democrats) made it clear that *any* bills in the House targeting trans kids during the final week before crossover will not become law if they make it to the Senate,” she tweeted. “Let’s focus on feeding kids, not singling them out.”

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The White House

Doug Emhoff visits monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin

Second gentleman marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Auschwitz

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The Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism in Berlin on July 23, 2022. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff visited the memorial on Jan. 31, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Tuesday visited a monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin.

A readout from Emhoff’s office notes he visited the Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under National Socialism with Philipp Braun of the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany, a German LGBTQ and intersex rights group. Christopher Schreiber and Alexander Scheld of the Berlin-Brandenburg Lesbian and Gay Federation were also with Emhoff.

“The Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under Nazi Socialism is intended to honor the homosexual victims of National Socialism and at the same time ‘set a constant sign against intolerance, hostility and exclusion towards gays and lesbians,'” notes the readout.

Emhoff on Tuesday visited other memorials that honor the Sinti and Roma and people with disabilities who the Nazis killed. The second gentleman also visited Berlin’s Holocaust memorial before he met with five people who survived it.

The second gentleman earlier in the day participated in a roundtable with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders and met with Ukrainian refugees at Berlin’s New Synagogue. Emhoff on Monday participated in a meeting at the city’s Topography of Terror Museum that focused on antisemitism.

International Holocaust Memorial Day, which commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in 1945, took place on Jan. 27. 

Emhoff, who is Jewish, traveled to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial and Museum and participated in ceremonies that commemorated the camp’s liberation. He later attended a Shabbat dinner with members of the Jewish community in Krakow, visited Oscar Schindler’s factory and met with Ukrainian refugees at a U.N. Refugee Agency community center before he traveled to Germany.

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