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‘Lavender Scare’ turned down by D.C. LGBT film festival

Mattachine Society criticizes decision to reject film



Charles Francis, Mattachine Society, gay news, Washington Blade
Charles Francis, anti-gay purge, Mattachine Society, gay news, Washington Blade

Charles Francis, president of the Mattachine Society of Washington, has questioned why ‘Lavender Scare’ hasn’t screened in D.C. (Photo courtesy of Charles Francis)

The president of the Mattachine Society of Washington, which was originally founded by D.C. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny in the early 1960s, has expressed concern that D.C.’s Reel Affirmations LGBT film festival declined to show an award-winning documentary film in which Kameny plays a key role.

Charles Francis said he learned last week that Reel Affirmations declined to show in its annual film festival in October a documentary called “Lavender Scare,” which tells the story of how thousands of gay federal workers were fired from their jobs in Washington in the 1950s and 1960s as part of a massive purge of homosexuals.

Kameny was among those fired from his job as an astronomer at the U.S. Army Map Service in 1957, prompting him to become the first known gay person to challenge his dismissal from a federal government job on grounds of homosexuality.

It is based on a book by the same name authored by gay historian David Johnson, who wrote that the massive homosexual purges in federal government agencies in Washington and other locations became known as the “lavender scare.”

The film includes an interview of Kameny telling about the firings and how he emerged as a leader in the early homosexual rights movement, which sought to fight what Kameny and others called the government’s persecution of gays. Kameny died in 2011.

The Reel Affirmations festival is a project of the DC Center for the LGBT Community. Kimberley Bush, its director, declined to say why “Lavender Scare” wasn’t selected for showing at the festival this year.

Josh Howard, the producer of “Lavender Scare,” said he submitted applications to have the film shown in 123 festivals throughout the country through a company called FilmFreeway. He said about 50 festivals accepted the film and 73 turned it down. He said he isn’t upset that Reel Affirmations declined the film, saying festivals have a wide range of reasons for the types of films they choose to show.

“I wish it would have gotten into all of them, but that’s unrealistic,” Howard said. “I don’t criticize them for not including me.”

Francis, who said he raised the issue of the film not being shown in D.C. without consulting with Howard, said he and others he knows who know about the film are puzzled over why it has yet to be shown in the city where much of its story took place.

“How can it be possible that Dr. Franklin E. Kameny and the Lavender Scare are not worthy of a single screening in this town? he asked. “This is the first documentary to tell the story of the 1953 Eisenhower Executive Order that banned gays and lesbians from federal employment for decades,” he said.

David Mariner, executive director of the DC Center, which oversees Reel Affirmations’ operations, said he trusts Bush’s judgment on the selection of films and her decision not to give an explanation for declining to show “Lavender Scare.”

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  1. Thom Prentice

    November 21, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    It is pretty despicable that the political correctness police of LGBT/DC film fest turned down the exemplary documentary of ACTUAL fascist repression of homosexuals in federal employment IN WASHINGTON DEE CEE for crissakes; said fascist repressionsrebelled against by Franklin Kameny and many, many others in the 1950s on a great risk to lives and careers — especially in this time of INSIPID, JUVENILE, PUERILE, NARCISSISTIC INCESSANT HYSTERICAL WHINING BY BOYS WEARING MAKEUP AND SKIRTS THAT THEIR CONSTITITUIONAL RIGHTS ARE BEING VIOLATED BY NOT HAVING THE PRICILEGE OF HAULING THEIR MALE JUNK INTO WOMENS RESTROOMS TO TINKLE!

    • Scott Henry

      November 21, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      Can anyone inform me where I might be able to see this film, either in a theatre close to DC, or a place where I can download/stream it?

      • Michael Airhart

        November 22, 2017 at 1:48 pm

        The producers decline to make the film available for viewing outside of film festivals.

        • Brian's Ions

          November 24, 2017 at 7:39 am

          Spin it all you want. It won’t change the fact that this is Reel Affirmation’s big fail. Most, I suspect, can readily see that. RA ought to simply admit it — and promptly fix it.

          Otherwise, it’s an insult to tens of thousands of area LGBTs, directly or indirectly adversely affected by the Lavender Scare policies– perpetrated over decades.

          And it will remain a stain on Reel Affirmations and The DCC.

  2. David Mariner

    November 21, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    I was at Frank Kameny’s grave on Veterans Day as I have been every year since his passing, and continue to honor him by maintaining this facebook page: .

    I have not spoken to Mr. Francis about this film, nor has anyone at the Center. I have not spoken to Josh Howard about this film, nor has anyone at the DC Center. I truly miss the days when people would pick up the phone and call before sending out an angry tweet or press release. Mr. Francis, I hope you will come visit the DC Center and see the truly amazing work that takes place there every day. Join us for Thanksgiving if you don’t have plans! Everyone is welcome.

    And next time you are upset about something at the Center, I hope you will reach out directly!

    All the Best – David Mariner

  3. MichaelBedwell

    November 21, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    With all due respect, Mr. Mariner, you have NOT “been at Frank Kameny’s grave on every Veterans Day since his passing.” NO ONE HAS, for there is no grave for Frank in Congressional Cemetery, a fact that the “Blade” has repeatedly documented after his shameless heir broke his agreement to let at least some of Frank’s ashes be interred there after the plot was purchased by HOBS. In fact, some of those articles have been posted on the Frank Facebook page you claim to be “continuing to honor him by maintaining.” E.g. “Kameny’s ashes still not buried 2 years after death” – October 10, 2013. If you genuinely cared about Frank as much as you claim to, you would honor him by having absorbed that he has no grave there; that the markers on that plot are cenotaphs not gravestones—AND have seen that Reel Affirmations added “Lavender Scare” to their program this year INSTEAD OF not only blindly backing Kimberley Bush’s ignorant, indefensible decision to refuse it but also her arrogant refusal to even give a reason. While you’re Googling “cenotaph” might we suggest you also Google “leader”?

  4. David Mariner

    November 21, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    I was at Frank Kameny’s memorial site at the Congressional Cemetery on Veterans Day as I have been every year since his passing, and continue to honor him by maintaining this facebook page: .

    I have not spoken to Mr. Francis about this film, nor has anyone at the Center. I have not spoken to Josh Howard about this film, nor has anyone at the DC Center. I truly miss the days when people would pick up the phone and call before sending out an angry tweet or press release. Mr. Francis, I hope you will come visit the DC Center and see the truly amazing work that takes place there every day. Join us for Thanksgiving if you don’t have plans! Everyone is welcome.

    And next time you are upset about something at the Center, I hope you will reach out directly!

    All the Best – David Mariner

  5. MichaelBedwell

    November 21, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks, David, for just removing me as an administrator of that Frank Kameny FB page. You take criticism so well.

  6. Skeptical Eye

    November 21, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    There is much discussion taking place that the movie was rejected from Reel Affirmations because it focuses mainly on white gay cis men. If this is not true, than Mr. Mariner should explain the criteria on which it was rejected. His response so far, to dismiss his critics for, apparently, daring to criticize his decision (for shame!), is unworthy of the position he holds in our community. I hope he gets off his high horse and explains his decision or does the right thing and accepts the film.

    • David Mariner

      November 22, 2017 at 12:45 am

      So the film festival has already taken place. This decision was made a long time ago. I don’t have any input on the films selected, nor do I want to. I appreciate the amazing staff and many volunteers who dedicate their time to reviewing the many, many films submitted to the festival, and I am not going to second-guess their decisions. I know the folks who volunteer their time to review all those films have a lot of difficult decisions and I appreciate their hard work. It’s largely volunteer driven though, so if anybody wants to volunteer and be part of the process next year, you are welcome. Frank Kameny was a friend of mine. He received an award from the DC Center shortly before he passed away. We continue to honor his legacy. This will be my last post on the topic, but of course, my doors are always open. I hope that in the future if folks have questions or concerns, they will at least have the decency to discuss the matter with us before sending out an angry tweet or press release.

      • Brian's Ions

        November 22, 2017 at 2:49 am

        So how does dismissive contempt for the DC area’s LGBT history invite further $upport for such exclusionary decision-making?
        “it’s a heartache you have for the rest of your days.”

        “All of this needs to be said. People need to know.”

        f/ The Lavender Scare
        (see trailer clip)

  7. lnm3921

    November 21, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Lavender Scare sounds like a worthy documentary to allow people to decide on their own if they want to see it or not. Stop the censorship especially if you are unwilling to say why you won’t accept the film! We are adults NOT kids and can decide for ourselves what we want to watch!

  8. Brian's Ions

    November 22, 2017 at 1:45 am

    The decision is disappointing– and frankly, inexplicable. *DC* is The DC Center’s middle name, after all. it deserves a lot of ‘second-guessing’ from LGBT residents and stakeholders throughout DC and the National Capital region.

  9. MichaelBedwell

    November 22, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Mr. Mariner again protests that no one had “the decency to discuss the matter with us before sending out an angry tweet or press release” BUT also proclaims “I don’t have any input on the films selected, nor do I want to. I am not going to second-guess their decisions.” SO, attempting to discuss the matter with him wouldn’t have made any difference anyway. Sad. Just sad.

    • David Mariner

      November 22, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Michael, the DC Center has a Director of Arts and Cultural Programs named Kimberley Bush – She is great at her job and she would have been the appropriate person to contact. I sure wish you would have called or e-mailed her before all the angry tirades online. And of course, if you had called me – I would have directed you to her.

      • MichaelBedwell

        November 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm

        No one is “great at her job” who refuses to answer the media’s question about an important decision affecting the community. And, again, you make clear calling you wouldn’t have changed a thing despite the job description of an executive including making executive decisions. In short, all your protestations and excuses to the contrary: this was botched from the beginning. Thank you.

  10. Michael Airhart

    November 22, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    1. It is the choice of the documentary’s producers, not Reel Affirmations or the D.C. Center, to make the documentary available only to film festivals and not to organizations or individual viewers.

    2. The critics of Reel Affirmations decline to say which films should have been dropped to make room for “Lavender Scare.” They unjustly expect the festival leaders to second-guess and insult the worthy films that were shown. And there is no indication that they sought to work constructively with the festival planners in the preceding months, perhaps by raising funds to support additional showings.

    3. I don’t see identity politics in this controversy — except in the intentions of those who presume to override the film festival organizers and artists. Frank Kameny himself would not approve of the spirit of entitlement that is on display in some of these comments.

    • MichaelBedwell

      November 22, 2017 at 3:38 pm

      With all due respect, Herr Airhart, you purport to know what Frank Kameny would want, that he would agree with you and your absurd, puerile, arrogant accusation of dissenters’ “spirit of entitlement.” I believe it safe to humbly say that both Mr. Francis and I knew Frank better than you. But knowing him personally for many years isn’t necessary to know how important teaching others about our people’s history was to him, particularly our own people. One need look no farther than any of his decades of public speaking which always included an historical context and his participation in the earlier documentary “Gay Pioneers.”

      But not only was “The Lavender Scare”—one of the most important documentaries ever made about our community—rejected by Ms. Bush, one sees only three documentaries of any kind in this year’s Reel buffet serving as much cliched LGBT film festival crap on a cracker (e.g., the *”brain-draining” “Freak Show” – *MetroWeekly) as feasts such as “Apricot Groves” and “God’s Own Country.” Two of those documentaries are about events in other countries, and there’s nothing jingoistic about saying that, however good they might be in their focus, they—like the craptastic “Freak Show”—could have been saved for the Center’s ongoing film showings.

      If anyone has a “sense of entitlement” it is Ms. Bush who, per Mr. Chibbaro, refused to give any explanation for not booking “The Lavender Scare.” It is a fair question regardless of who asks it or where. Defending her refusal and blaming the victims of her poor decision making should be beneath anyone this side of 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue

      • Michael Airhart

        November 22, 2017 at 4:47 pm

        You continue to demand that the festival, and also a community leader who had little role in the festival, retroactively insult worthwhile films and their creators.

        I applaud the choice of balance of fiction and documentary. I applaud the balance of male and female protagonists. And I applaud the inclusion of foreign documentaries that educate us about gay neighbors that we know too little about.

        “Freak Show” sucked, but “Lavender Scare” wasn’t the only promising movie that got left aside, and “God’s Own Country” and “Apricot Groves” got great reviews.

        What role did you play in organizing and co-sponsoring the festival? If none, then you’re not a victim. Instead, volunteer to help expand next year’s festival.

        • MichaelBedwell

          November 22, 2017 at 5:33 pm

          “Insult”??? Are you new to English? Your bizarre word choices would suggest you are. But running with your construct—Ms. Bush insulted the DC-area LGBT community by booking crap like “Freak Show,” “Signature Move,” “I Dream in Another Language,” and various pieces of the “Shorts” rather than “The Lavender Scare” which, far from just “history,” is as relevant today as any other film, factual or fictional, she chose as the Trump Reich systematically does all it can to destroy LGBT rights advances. She insults the DC-area LGBT community NOW by refusing to comment—how Trumplike. The DC-area LGBT community is, thus, her victim twice over.

          • Michael Airhart

            November 22, 2017 at 6:38 pm

            Peace and blessings to you, Michael.

  11. Kemwit Tall Tree

    November 28, 2017 at 6:16 am

    This is just awful. What kind of lunacy is being engaged here when such a film can’t get into a festival like this?

    If this is about PC culture, then it’s time to pull the contributions we make to these organizations. No more $$ from me!

    Why would I contribute to an organization that has decided to no longer be inclusive of gay men?

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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



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



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



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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