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Trump claims win with tax reform, but LGBT advocates say they lose

Projected growth not enough to cover plan’s costs



restoring democracy, gay news, Washington Blade

President Trump may win with tax reform, but LGBT advocates say they lose. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

President Trump is touting the Republican tax reform plan as his first legislative win as Congress sends the legislation to his desk, but LGBT rights supporters are warning about expected negative impacts of the measure — especially the end to the individual mandate in Obamacare.

In a statement Wednesday after final congressional approval of the bill, Trump said he made good on his promise for “a big, beautiful tax cut for Christmas.”

“Unemployment continues to fall, the stock market is at a record high, and wages will soon be on the rise,” Trump said. “By cutting taxes and reforming the broken system, we are now pouring rocket fuel into the engine of our economy. America is back to winning again, and we’re growing like never before. There is a great spirit of optimism sweeping across our land. Americans can once again rest assured that our brightest days are still to come.”

That optimism wasn’t shared by LGBT rights supporters, advocates against HIV/AIDS and deficit hawks who say the projected 0.8 percent growth expected as a result of the bill isn’t enough to pay for its costs.

Laura Durso, vice president of LGBT research and communications for the Center for American Progress, said the package “will have massively negative implications for LGBTQ people” especially as a result of ending the individual mandate for health care.

“Eliminating the individual mandate means that insurance premiums will go up, putting coverage out of reach for those with lower incomes,” Durso said. “LGB people are also less likely to have coverage through their spouse or partner, compared to non-LGB people, and so the stability of the individual market is incredibly important for our community.”

According to the Congressional Budget Office, repeal of the individual mandate in Obamacare would result in a decrease of the number of people with health insurance by 4 million in 2019 and 13 million in 2027. Additionally, CBO predicts average premiums in the non-group health insurance exchanges would rise by about 10 percent in most years of the upcoming decade.

Doug Wirth, CEO of the New York-based health care non-profit Amida Care, said people with HIV/AIDS would be among those to face consequences as a result of the tax package.

“The tax reform bill is just another way to strip away health care access from millions of Americans in order to cut taxes for the wealthy,” Wirth said. “Paying for this massive transfer of funds by cutting safety net programs will hurt those most in need, like the 74 million hard-working Americans, including veterans, women, seniors, and people with chronic conditions like HIV and diabetes, who count on Medicaid for health insurance. We are deeply troubled by the repeal of the individual mandate, which will lead to sky-high premiums.”

Wirth said components of the bill that decrease deductions for medical expenses and remove tax exemptions helping hospitals and nonprofit organization would have a negative impact — but eliminating the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act would be particularly bad.

“By ensuring that healthy people join the insurance pool, the mandate is essential to keeping health care affordable for everyone, and particularly those who depend on insurance the most, such as people with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses,” Wirth said. “Without the mandate, health care premiums will skyrocket and an estimated 13 million people will lose coverage.”

The estimated price tag for these tax reductions varies from analyst to analyst, and each of the analysts has differing takes depending on the economic growth as result of tax cuts in the legislation. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has projected the package would add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the course of 10 years, or as much as $2.2 trillion. As a result, the national debt — which is now $20.6 trillion — would double by 2027.

David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign, predicted in a statement federal programs assisting LGBT people would face cuts in the future to pay the cost of the tax legislation.

“If the Trump-Pence tax scam becomes law, programs crucial to the LGBTQ community like Medicare, Medicaid, global HIV & AIDS programs, and the Ryan White Care Act will surely face future efforts to cut their benefits,” Stacy said. “This is a reckless and desperate attempt to score a legislative victory at the expense of everyday Americans.”

Cuts to Medicaid could be harmful for people with HIV/AIDS. An estimated 40 percent of people with HIV/AIDS depend on the program for health care.

The tax reform package also lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, doubles the standard deduction for individuals and families, doubles the child tax-credit and increases the threshold for payments under the estate tax from $5.5 million to $11.2 million.

In contrast to the change to the corporate tax, which is permanent, the tax cuts for individuals and families will expire in 2025 if Congress doesn’t act to reauthorize them.

Conservative groups — regardless of their position on LGBT rights — said those cuts were positive aspects of the legislation that outweigh any negative consequences.

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, said components of the tax reform plan that eliminate the estate tax and the individual mandate in Obamacare “are obviously welcome news.”

“Not a single person will lose healthcare as a result of this legislation; people are simply not coerced by the government to buy a product they don’t want without fear of paying a mandatory penalty,” Angelo said. “And the pernicious tax that gave Edith Windsor standing in court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act has now been severely curtailed. That’s most definitely a good thing.”

Ralph Reed, chair of the anti-LGBT Faith & Freedom Coalition, said in a statement the tax reform package “is pro-child, pro-jobs, pro-middle-class, and pro-family.”

“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubles the child tax credit to $2,000 per child, doubles the standard deduction for individuals and married couples, and repeals the repressive Obamacare mandate to begin full dismantling of Obamacare,” Reed said. “President Trump and Congressional Republicans have now delivered for the American people a simpler and fairer tax code that protects and supports families and children, and will increase wages, promote job creation, and make American businesses more competitive.”

The tax reform package also curtails the amount taxpayers can deduct for state and local income tax, sales tax, and property taxes to $10,000. The deduction would have been eliminated entirely if not for an amendment inserted by Rep. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The cap of that deduction explains why many “blue” state Republicans in the U.S. House, including those in California, New Jersey and New York, were among the 12 Republicans who voted against the bill. With high state taxes and property values in those states, people living there may face a tax increase, not decrease, as a result of tax reform.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who’s gay and a co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, cited the issue of the property tax in a statement explaining his “no” vote on the bill.

“Most of the Republicans from New York broke with their own party and voted no, so I couldn’t possibly support it,” Maloney said. “I mean, it raises property taxes for us and 83 percent of the benefits go to the richest 1 percent, so it obviously won’t help the Hudson Valley families who need relief. But it will explode our deficit, weaken Medicare, and undermine our efforts to build infrastructure and invest in education.”

Durso also cited the reduced deduction on state and property taxes as an LGBT issue on the basis that “if an LGBTQ person decided to live in places that have stronger non-discrimination protections, typically more progressive states and cities, they will now be penalized for living in a safer community.”

The White House hasn’t yet announced when Trump will sign the bill, although he’ll certainly pen his name to the legislation. Trump made tax reform a legislative priority and most observers say he needs a win to bolster his standing among the GOP base.

Durso said the ultimate cost of the tax reform package won’t be realized until the long-term when the effects are seen.

“Lower income families, including LGBTQ people who are more vulnerable to poverty than their peers, will see only modest gains in the near future but many will see their taxes actually rise by 2027,” Durso said. “Even worse, this bill will trigger automatic spending cuts and members of Congress have already stated their intention to eviscerate programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security that LGBTQ people rely on for the security of their families. This bill will harm millions of people and the LGBTQ community will undoubtedly feel the pain that President Trump and congressional Republicans have caused.”

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  1. Mark Hatchett

    December 21, 2017 at 8:40 am

    I see Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have been handing out talking points again.

    • lnm3921

      December 23, 2017 at 12:09 am

      Versus you, the Fake POTUS, your fellow CONs and the nag you came riding on you mean?! Miss Milo would be the nag you want to ride!

  2. Kemwit Tall Tree

    December 21, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    The “leadership” of the gay community is so completely out of touch with a huge portion of the gay population it’s hilarious! When the “Loonie Left” wants to make a point, it can always rely on so-called gay advocacy organizations to make a spectacle of themselves!

    • lnm3921

      December 23, 2017 at 12:09 am

      Where are you statistics that backup the contention that the “leadership” is out of touch with a “HUGE” portion of the gay population? Proof the constipated CON right-wing within the gay community is as large as you say it is.

      You’re just blowing gas out your rear-end with that BS! If you don’t like the gay movement, no one said they need you to be part of it! Good riddance to your nasty swishing big behind! Go twerk it at the next values summit and see where it gets you!

      • Kemwit Tall Tree

        December 23, 2017 at 6:57 am

        We’re going to take over the gay movement! All of you AGING lefties are fading away!

        • lnm3921

          December 23, 2017 at 2:02 pm

          Keep dreaming! You’re just alot of noise like Trump who will go down in flames someday just like Miss Milo did and just like Steve Bannon did! You’ll all get your comeuppance!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            December 25, 2017 at 8:24 pm

            INM – you live in the past, 50 years ago! Times changed but you’re still a regular bar fly, just with lots of wrinkles!

          • lnm3921

            December 25, 2017 at 9:26 pm

            You’re looking at your face not mine for wrinkles like on trump!

            I don’t have your wide butt and gut like your fake potus either!

            Obviously since the blade is liberal as the leadership you just live in bitter denial!

          • DoctorWhom

            December 26, 2017 at 11:07 am

            “If it weren’t for people who stood up to government intrusion in their lives, there wouldn’t be a GLBT movement!”
            FTFY. You admit as much in the next paragraph.

          • lnm3921

            December 26, 2017 at 5:41 pm

            We need laws that recognize and uphold our rights. That includes marriage rights, employment rights and housing rights. All come from the government not your libertarian BS!

            The GOP does nothing but intrude in our lives!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            December 27, 2017 at 6:39 pm

            You go on about Democrat wins in New Jersey and Virginia? Oh yes, that so impressive! LOL Democrats winning in blue states…that is really something!

          • lnm3921

            December 27, 2017 at 7:41 pm

            the point is trump had no power in swaying the electorate despite telling voters what to do! So much for the influence you claim he has over voters!

            Oh yes, Alabama’s Democratic win was impressive and much sweeter knowing that it humiliated the fake potus and bannon! That you kept silent on! Knowing it proved you an idiot…..priceless!

          • BigGaySteve

            December 29, 2017 at 5:56 pm

            Even the CUCKed GOP establishment fought against Moore, because he put American interests before Israel. Moore had both parties and the press against him and still came within the margin for voter fraud.

          • lnm3921

            December 29, 2017 at 6:17 pm

            Even your GOP certified there is no voter fraud! Moore lost in a very red state despite trump support and Brannon’s dirty money! Trump’s influence didn’t matter! He’s going down too!

        • BruceMajors4DC

          December 25, 2017 at 8:19 pm

          It’s mind is already dead, as he proves here:

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            December 25, 2017 at 8:20 pm

            LOL…..senility is so sad! Inm is even sadder!

          • lnm3921

            December 25, 2017 at 9:27 pm

            You delusions are what is sad! Sucks to be you!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            December 27, 2017 at 6:37 pm

            Inm – your breath smells like farts!

          • lnm3921

            December 27, 2017 at 7:36 pm

            Dimwit you are a loud fart that repeats without end!

          • lnm3921

            December 25, 2017 at 9:27 pm

            Take your medication before you hurt yourself again!

      • Kemwit Tall Tree

        December 23, 2017 at 8:32 am

        BTW – it’s insane lefties like you who are driving so many people to the right wing! So keep up the good work!

        Newest convert is the former CEO of NPR – Ken Stern! Check him out on Youtube trashing the Left with Dave Rubin (another former Lefty and a gay man).

        • lnm3921

          December 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm

          Really is that why people keep leaving the GOP in disgust declaring themselves Independents?

          You’re Fake POTUS really helps, too! You’re so delusional!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            December 27, 2017 at 6:36 pm

            I’m not a republican and never been my entire life! I was a Democrat until last near, now an Independent. There is more to politics than your outdated binary approach.

      • Count Dracula

        December 24, 2017 at 10:51 pm

        Take the di€k out of your azz and get a job. Use your medical benefits like normal people do

        • lnm3921

          December 25, 2017 at 6:07 pm

          I have a job! What’s yours, a dead-end paying minimum wage with no benefits courtesy of the fake potus?

          What’s in someone’s azz is none of your business. Why not pull your head out of yours?!

          There is nothing normal about you! You’re a side show!

          • BruceMajors4DC

            December 25, 2017 at 8:18 pm

            You have a “job” shuffling papers and leeching off taxpayers as a ‘crat.

          • lnm3921

            December 25, 2017 at 9:06 pm

            It’s you leeching off taxpayers with trump and the GOP tax scam!

      • Celia

        December 25, 2017 at 6:25 am

        Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
        On tuesday I got a great New Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
        ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleTeamOfficeUpdateWorkFromHome/more/cash ★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫:::::!da252luuuuss

      • Celia

        December 25, 2017 at 6:25 am

        Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
        On tuesday I got a great New Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
        ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleDailyConsumerOfficeJournalsJobsReport1/easy/jobs ★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫★★✫★✫:::::!da253luuuuu

      • BruceMajors4DC

        December 25, 2017 at 8:17 pm

        God you must be hungry, what with him blowing gas out his rear end.

        • lnm3921

          December 25, 2017 at 9:07 pm

          You’re the gas that’s blown out!

      • BigGaySteve

        December 29, 2017 at 5:51 pm

        There are gays in the uncharted lands between NYC and San Fran. Many of them are even gun owners. The gay gun group Pink Pistols increased in size by 400% in the month after PULSE

    • BruceMajors4DC

      December 25, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Example to follow:

      • lnm3921

        December 25, 2017 at 9:30 pm

        Says the loser wannabe mayor of d.c.! No one wanted your lunacy and many of your own wouldn’t back you as an avowed homosexual!

        You’re only fit to clean toilets!

        • Kemwit Tall Tree

          December 27, 2017 at 6:35 pm

          At least he wasn’t a closet case and running for mayor like some of our other DC politicians!

          • lnm3921

            December 27, 2017 at 7:16 pm

            Obviously being out didn’t help him with conservatives and that you can count on if nothing else!

  3. Thisoldspouse

    December 22, 2017 at 11:16 am

    They lose because they can’t lay claim to other people’s money? Typical.

    Finance your own lifestyle.

    • lnm3921

      December 23, 2017 at 12:12 am

      That’s what liberals have be saying to the 1.0%. Selfish and rotten scoundrels!

      • Thisoldspouse

        December 23, 2017 at 5:22 pm

        ??? Your silly post makes no sense.

        • lnm3921

          December 24, 2017 at 12:00 am

          Let me explain it since you live in your own world. The tax cut favors the 1.0% who don’t need it so the tax payer is financing their selfish lifestyle.

          They already make more than most people but spend it all on so let them finance their own lifestyle! That include the fake POTUS!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            December 25, 2017 at 8:30 pm

            INM – You have Mad Cow Disease? I thought you had verbal diarrhea!

          • lnm3921

            December 25, 2017 at 9:15 pm

            Dimwit You and your fake potus are IBS with constipation!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            December 27, 2017 at 6:43 pm

            Oh! There goes another squirt right out of your mouth! Usually the squirts go the other way…like everytime the sailors come to town! LOL

          • lnm3921

            December 27, 2017 at 7:30 pm

            Squirt defines your stature in life!

            All you’re telling me is that I would be seen as hot and thus popular with military men! What most men would want!

            Too bad for you that they would only see a plus size dowdy wallflower in you! You’re too much of a woman!

          • Thisoldspouse

            December 26, 2017 at 2:30 pm

            Oh, so you’re the arbiter of “who needs it.” LOL!!!! You only bolster conservative arguments by your spew.

          • lnm3921

            December 26, 2017 at 2:40 pm

            Hardly since most people believe it’s a scam that favors the rich and corporations! Your right wing vomit needs to be flushed!

            Better the masses decide than the 1%. History shows when the do we ave revolutions that fix the problem like in France and Russia!

          • BigGaySteve

            December 29, 2017 at 6:06 pm

            Both parties favor the 1%. That’s why when the Koch Bros switched support to Hillary over TRUMP, it was obvious the parasite class on both sides feared him.

        • BruceMajors4DC

          December 25, 2017 at 8:16 pm

          He’s a regular troll here. And a victim of mad cow disease from some prions he swallowed in a steam room.

          • lnm3921

            December 25, 2017 at 9:13 pm

            You look like a troll and are a mad cow disease! Find a right-wing rag to pollute!

  4. DoctorWhom

    December 22, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Apparently, the party line is that we are especially in need of handouts and that tax cuts could never benefit us. I’m sure that somehow, it’s those of us who disagree who suffer from self-loathing and internalized homophobia.

    • lnm3921

      December 23, 2017 at 12:11 am

      Tax benefits under the Fake POTUS and the GOP as a huge scam for the rich and corporations on the back of the middle class and poor? What’s the average tax savings for the middle class? $1K or $2K per year? That’s a grocery bill per week. Who are you kidding?

      • BruceMajors4DC

        December 25, 2017 at 8:15 pm

        So it will pay for the $12 a month birth control cost, huh?

        • lnm3921

          December 25, 2017 at 9:11 pm

          Too bad your parents didn’t get it for that!

      • Kemwit Tall Tree

        December 25, 2017 at 8:29 pm

        I’ll take an extra $2,000 a year! My next trip to Tel Aviv Gay Pride! Then on to the capital of Israel, Jerusalem!

        Better the $$ in my pocket than giving free education to illegal aliens!

        • lnm3921

          December 25, 2017 at 9:10 pm

          A trip to Israel costs a lot more than $2k! Obviously you don’t get out much!

          Naturally you use the excuse of illegals to rip off the poor! A lot of low income Americans could use it to survive instead of financing the lifestyle of the selfish!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            December 27, 2017 at 6:41 pm

            My husband and I are getting back a lot more than $2,000. We’re in a tax bracket a turd like you can only dream of in the back seat of your Chevy sedan!

          • lnm3921

            December 27, 2017 at 7:19 pm

            Again you think you can define me but NEVER can!! You’re such a pathetic butt wipe!

            All you are good at is being an ugly plus-size woman!

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            December 27, 2017 at 7:24 pm

            You’re easy to define: Over the hill Trixie Trampp that needs diapers! Bwaaaaa!

          • lnm3921

            December 27, 2017 at 8:16 pm

            Says the trump chump who trolls for tricky trump! Over the hill I’ll NEVEr be! Age cannot wither me nor custom stale my infinity variety! You wouldn’t understand as you were stale shortly after birth and continue to develop mold each day of your miserable existence!

            The fake potus is over the hill and ready for the glue factory!

      • DoctorWhom

        December 26, 2017 at 11:04 am

        Remember when a strategist for Fake POTUS 45 had the nerve to send out this?

        “When President Trump asked you to speak out on the payroll tax cut, you jumped into action. Thousands of individuals from across the country wrote in to say what $40 with each paycheck means to their families.

        “And it worked.”
        Oops, my autocorrect somehow changed “Obama” to “Trump” in that.

        • lnm3921

          December 26, 2017 at 12:06 pm

          It means paying for a grocery bill or filling up on gas Big deal! Give me $2k more a month instead of to the rich then that is something!

        • lnm3921

          December 27, 2017 at 8:27 am

          Remember when trump told thousands to vote for the republican in Virginia then Alabama? Oops! The republican lost!

          Remember when trump said he knew more about terrorism than all the us generals, fbi and cia? Oops! Five attacks later within a short amount of time and trump lied!

          Your tax reform passed simply because your biggest donors threatened the GOP leadership with withholding financial support! Nothing more but dems will be proven right on it being a scam, they will be a majority again and will fix the damage by giving the right people a tax cut instead of the 1% and corporations!

          You’re smug today and crawling into your corner in a fetal position sucking your thumb in the future. Not an “if” but a “when”!

          Your diagnosis is pure quackery!

    • BigGaySteve

      December 29, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      They could at least be honest and say “If you purposely got AIDS to lay about on SS Disability the tax reform is bad for you” unlike those with productive private sector jobs

  5. BruceMajors4DC

    December 25, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    The same tired old flaks, most of them retreads from the Hillary campaign, regurgitating stale talking points. Tax reform will hurt the “LGBT community” insofar as gays have moved to high tax Blue States, who are about to be stripped of the federal subsidy of allowing Blue State state and local governments to tax non-residents in Red States, by having Blue State local taxes be a federal tax deduction. The Trump reform brilliantly ends the loophole for high income Blue State Democrat donors. This is the real reason all these prostitutes are wailing: their johns are being taxed when they visit the brothel.

    • lnm3921

      December 25, 2017 at 9:19 pm

      The blue states would be high tax since the GOP tax scam eliminates or significantly reduces the tax deductions the can take!

      Eventually dems will be in power again and we will have a dem potus who like you focused on eliminating Obamacare will be focused on eliminating your tax scam for the rich and corporations! Payback will be sweet! Not an if but a when event!

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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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