With state legislative sessions wrapped in just about every state — including two sessions to pass anti-trans legislation in Texas if you count the general session and the special session —2017 proved a mixed bag on LGBT-related bills across the country.
In Texas, transgender rights supporters thwarted an attempt by state leaders to enact legislation that would have barred transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity.
However, Texas — along with Alabama and South Dakota — enacted laws allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to deny placements in homes based on religious objections, which could result in discrimination against LGBT families.
On the pro-LGBT side, four states — Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico and Rhode Island — enacted legislation barring the widely discredited practice of “ex-gay” conversion therapy for youth. But states also rejected efforts to advance LGBT non-discrimination protections, including New Hampshire, where a bill to expand the gay-only human rights law to cover transgender people was tabled on the House floor.
Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Washington Blade activity at the state level “wasn’t as damaging as it could have been” on LGBT issues this year.
“I don’t think a single anti-trans bill about public accommodations passed this session, which was really heartening and also we didn’t see bills like the RFRA or FADA pass at the state level, too,” Rho said.
Amanda McLain-Snipes, director of advocacy programs at the Equality Federation, said LGBT advocates “were quite successful in stopping harmful legislation” initiated by opponents of LGBT rights.
“The most recent evidence of that being Texas where they tried to pass anti-transgender legislation during their regular session, were unsuccessful, called a special session and were unsuccessful again,” McLain-Snipes said. “And that’s even in a state like Texas, and so it gives us cause for celebration.”
In Texas, the anti-trans bathroom bill was defeated despite a massive push from Republican lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who made passing the measure a top legislative priority.
Lawmakers sought to pass a bill that would undercut city ordinances barring anti-trans discrimination in bathrooms and locker rooms and prohibit transgender people from using the restroom in government buildings and schools consistent with their gender identity.
In the general session, the measure died after the House and the Senate couldn’t agree on the exact form the legislation would take. After that session ended, trans rights advocates thought they were in the clear, but Gov. Greg Abbott called for a special session to ensure anti-trans legislation would reach his desk.
Nonetheless, although the Senate passed a measure, lawmakers didn’t follow suit in the House, where House Speaker Joe Straus opposed the measure. The special session ended last week without an anti-trans measure reaching the governor’s desk.
The Texas measure failed after a massive outcry from transgender advocates, business leaders and law enforcement officials. CEOs from 51 Fortune 500 companies publicly denounced the bill, 20 of which were based in Texas. The Dallas Stars, an ice hockey team, publicly came out against the measure and the Dallas Cowboys were credited with working against it behind the scenes.
Rho said anti-trans legislation was unsuccessful in Texas because trans rights supporters had “done such a good job” informing the public about the “damage that it causes to trans kids in particular but trans adults as well.”
“I think there is a really big force behind a victory like in Texas, with the business communities from the beginning of the legislative session into the end of the special session being vocal about why they didn’t want these kinds of bills in their state,” Rho said.
McLain-Snipes said the defeat of the anti-trans legislation was the result of how “people heard our stories” after the transgender community spoke out.
“The power of transgender people sharing their experience and their fears with the potential of this legislation passing really let other Texans know what was at stake, and as a result, folks were calling their representatives and their senators and saying, ‘Don’t do this on my behalf,'” McLain-Snipes said. “And it really caused a lot of folks to not want to pass that type of legislation.”
Other states where anti-trans bathroom bills were introduced this year, but didn’t make it into law, were Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
In North Carolina, where an anti-trans measure was already law as a result of former Gov. North Carolina Pat McCrory signing into law House Bill 2, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper with Republican lawmakers replaced the law with House Bill 135. The new law, which LGBT rights supporters say is still discriminatory, bars cities from passing pro-LGBT non-discrimination ordinances for three years and state agencies from “regulation of access” to bathroom facilities.
Although the anti-trans bill was defeated in Texas, Abbott signed into law — perhaps as a silver medal to opponents of LGBT rights — a law allowing taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse child placement based on religious objections. Preceding Texas this year in enacting similar measures were Alabama and South Dakota.
Many child placement agencies are religious institutions, such as Catholic adoption agencies. Under these new laws, these agencies could be free to deny placement to an LGBT family — or Jewish people, Muslims and single parents — based on religious beliefs.
In Texas, McLain-Snipes said the foster care system is in crisis and “children are in state custody because they can’t get them places soon enough,” which made lawmakers willing to accept anti-LGBT legislation when adoption agencies threatened to bolt after the advent of marriage equality.
“In that crisis situation, the legislators felt like they needed to make that problematic compromise in order to get those religious organizations back to the table and back to offering services where they previously walked away,” McLain-Snipes said.
Rho said states that enacted anti-LGBT adoption measures were also ones were anti-trans legislation was introduced, so part of an effort “to divide attention, resources, opposition” in attempts to pass at least one anti-LGBT bill.
“Unfortunately, the adoption and foster care bills have been challenging,” Rho said. “There’s a pretty low level of understanding of how our adoption and foster care system works, and so there’s not an immediate connection to the harm that it poses not just to the couples or individuals wanting to adopt, but of course the children who are in the system. So I think the immediate harm is sometimes not immediately understood.”
Broader religious freedom bills were introduced this year in Arkansas, Texas, Washington and Wyoming, but didn’t make it into law. Although the effort to pass these measures was less energetic than years past, they still were introduced and discussed.
After massive outcry over “religious freedom” measures allowing denial of services to LGBT people, such as the law Vice President Mike Pence signed as Indiana governor, McLain-Snipes said the adoption bills were the result of more narrowed attempts to enable discrimination.
“We have seen a shift from very broad religious exemption legislation to more narrowed, and the implications, reasons for denial,” McLain-Snipes said. “So that’s why you saw a shift and a focus on unfortunately our most vulnerable, on families.”
The pro-LGBT side also saw victories in state legislatures. Four states — Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico and Rhode Island — enacted bans against widely discredited “ex-gay” therapy for youth. The measures enjoyed such bipartisan support that in two cases Republican governors — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez — signed the bills into law.
McLain-Snipes said the passage of bans on “ex-gay” conversion therapy “gives me a lot of hope” because they demonstrate greater awareness of the harms over the practice.
“People are seeing so-called conversion therapy for what it is, which is abuse and fraud,” McLain-Snipes said. “So, decision-makers who are able to enact policies to protect vulnerable youth have been doing what they can doing their part to make sure that folks get protections from discredited practices.”
But in other states, attempts to ban “ex-gay” conversion therapy were unsuccessful. In New Hampshire, a committee in the Republican-controlled House voted to retain the measure to keep it from advancing to the floor. In Colorado, a Senate committee rejected a similar measure.
Attempts to enact non-discrimination laws, a longstanding goal of the LGBT rights movement, weren’t as successful as conversion therapy bans. Versions of legislation that would enshrine LGBT non-discrimination protections into law were introduced in just about all the 22 states that lack them, but none made it into law.
In New York, where anti-trans discrimination is already illegal as a result of an order signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, an attempt to codify those protections passed the Assembly, but remains dead-in-the-water in the Republican-controlled Senate. In New Hampshire, an attempt to expand human rights laws to include gender identity was approved in House committee, but ultimately tabled on the floor.
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, director of public education for Freedom for All Americans, said the failure of the anti-trans bathroom bill in Texas “absolutely” affords lessons for pro-trans protections in New Hampshire — even though the measures are opposite in nature.
“The huge success in Texas was all the opposition from the business community warning a bathroom ban would cost the state up to $5.6 billion in economic investment,” Heng-Lehtinen said. “New Hampshire’s economy is nowhere near as big as Texas, but not taking steps to protect trans people from discrimination would still negatively impact the state’s economy.”
Heng-Lehtinen, the transgender son of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), also pointed out New Hampshire is now the only state in New England without explicit transgender non-discrimination protections.
“As New Hampshire works to compete with all of its neighboring states, it’s now at a disadvantage and it’s further behind all of their neighbors, so they’re this island in New England as far as the business community is concerned,” Heng-Lehtinen said.
With legislative sessions now at a close for 2017, the next phase of anti-LGBT bills may well be pre-emption bills aimed at undermining city ordinances in conservative states protecting LGBT rights.
Earlier this month on “Fox & Friends,” Patrick hinted these measures could allow Republican-controlled states to undermine Democratic authority in cities.
“Where do we have all our problems in America?” Patrick said. “Not at the state level, run by Republicans, but in our cities that are mostly controlled by Democrat mayors and Democrat city council men and women. That’s where you see liberal policies, that’s where you see high taxes, where you see high street crimes.”
Rho pointed to Patrick’s remarks as evidence that pre-emption bills — already the law in some form in Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina — are the next wave of attacks.
“The threat about pre-emption is that it will target LGBT communities specifically because they target non-discrimination ordinances, but they really hit out at a host of reforms or progressive ideas that municipalities or localities or trying to introduce, and it will greatly reduce their power whether it’s about wage or family or what have you,” Rho said.
Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead
No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise
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.
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
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.
D.C. man charged with 2020 anti-gay death threat rearrested
Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011
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.
Lo que trae el Código de las Familias de Cuba
Indyra Mendoza y Claudia Spellmant, de Honduras, entre las 100 personas más influyentes del mundo, según Time
Gay Guatemala congressman ‘scared’ for his life
HHS awards more than $48 million to HRSA centers in effort to beat HIV/AIDS
Must-attend events in D.C. this fall
Poll: 57% of Americans back bipartisan deal on LGBTQ rights, religious liberty
OAS commission calls for Venezuela to protect LGBTQ rights
Washington Football Team embraces Pride Night Out
D.C. Pride street fair, block party set for Oct. 17
Activists reflect on Black Trans Lives Matter movement resurgence
Sign Up for Blade eBlasts
Movies7 days ago
LaBruce delivers shocking story of brotherly love in ‘Saint-Narcisse’
Local7 days ago
Comings & Goings
News4 days ago
Poll: 57% of Americans back bipartisan deal on LGBTQ rights, religious liberty
Books7 days ago
Sullivan’s new book a cornucopia of wit, provocation
World5 days ago
OAS commission calls for Venezuela to protect LGBTQ rights
Sports3 days ago
Washington Football Team embraces Pride Night Out
Opinions7 days ago
Progressives are Patriots
Local3 days ago
D.C. Pride street fair, block party set for Oct. 17