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Whitman-Walker celebrates 40 years

Pioneer in D.C.’s battle against AIDS evolved into community health center

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Whitman-Walker, End HIV, gay news, Washington Blade

Whitman-Walker Health’s annual Walk to End HIV. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Whitman-Walker Health, D.C.’s preeminent community health center serving the LGBT community, is set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its incorporation on Jan. 13, 1978 as the then Whitman-Walker Clinic.

Its current executive director, Don Blanchon, points out that the organization that became Whitman-Walker — the Gay Men’s VD Clinic, an arm of the then Washington Free Clinic — was founded in November 1973 and began operating in the basement of D.C.’s Georgetown Lutheran Church.

A timeline posted on Whitman-Walker’s website shows that the Gay Men’s VD Clinic, which began as an all-volunteer operation, hired its first full-time staff in 1976. In 1977, according to the Whitman-Walker history write-up, leaders of the fledgling clinic broke away from the Washington Free Clinic and began to develop “their vision for a new, diverse health care organization.”

At the time the group incorporated as Whitman-Walker Clinic in 1978 the D.C. Department of Human Resources provided it with $15,000 in funding, marking the first in a long history of city financial support for Whitman-Walker.

Blanchon, who did not become Whitman-Walker’s executive director until May 2006, said he has since learned from others familiar with its early years that its founders set a precedent for its mission and value system that remain in place today.

“At the end of the day, before there was ever HIV and AIDS, there was an ideal that the gay community needed a different type of health care that was affirming of who they were,” he said. “And that was all the way back to 1973.”

He notes that since then Whitman-Walker has broadened its health care work to cover the full diversity of the LGBT community, with greatly expanded programs and services for the transgender community in recent years.

Blanchon said today’s Whitman-Walker Health has an operating budget of nearly $103 million and a staff of 290 employees.

World AIDS Day, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Before there was ever HIV and AIDS, there was an ideal that the gay community needed a different type of health care,’ said Whitman-Walker Executive Director Don Blanchon. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Although Whitman-Walker broke new ground in its first decade as an LGBT clinic, those familiar with its 40-year history say it established itself as one of the city’s most well-known healthcare institutions beginning in 1983, when the AIDS epidemic hit D.C. in full force.

Two years earlier, D.C. gay attorney Jim Graham was elected president of the Whitman-Walker board in 1981, the same year the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Report published an account of how young gay men were being stricken with a rare form of pneumonia normally contracted by elderly people with compromised immune systems.

Whitman-Walker Clinic staff on June 15, 1984. (Washington Blade archive photo by Jim Marks)

The CDC report was the first of a series of updated reports that later identified the condition afflicting gay men and other population groups as HIV/AIDS. It was at that time that Whitman-Walker assumed a leadership role in addressing the epidemic in the District of Columbia.

Among other things, it launched an AIDS education program along with counseling and direct services for people with AIDS. A short time later it began its “Buddy” program that recruited scores of volunteers to help people living with AIDS at a time when little or no official government programs existed to take on that role.

On April 4, 1983, Whitman-Walker organized the first D.C. AIDS Forum at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. Hundreds of gay men turned out for the event and heard Dr. Richard DiGioia, a local physician whose practice catered to the gay community, talk about the disease’s symptoms and the early and mostly ineffective treatment options available at that time.

In 1984, the Whitman-Walker board named Jim Graham as the clinic’s new executive director. Graham has been credited with spearheading Whitman-Walker’s rapid growth as one of the nation’s leading AIDS service organizations.

During his first years at Whitman-Walker’s helm, Graham used his skills as a lawyer to provide legal help for gay men and others with AIDS who often were rejected by their families and faced workplace discrimination before becoming too sick to hold a job. Blanchon calls Graham the father of Whitman-Walker’s highly regarded Legal Services program, which currently enjoys legal support from attorneys with some of the city’s most prominent law firms.

Under Graham’s leadership, Whitman-Walker bought several buildings along or near the 14th Street, N.W. corridor north of downtown. Among the purchases were its headquarters at 1407 S Street, N.W., just off 14th Street. In 1985 the Robert N. Schwartz House was opened as the city’s first home for people with AIDS, becoming one in a series of houses Whitman-Walker purchased to house people with HIV/AIDS.

From left, Whitman-Walker President Mary Jane Wood, former head of the D.C. Council Commission on Health Polly Shackleton, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, Effi Barry and Whitman-Walker Administrator Jim Graham attend the dedication of the new clinic facility on June 23, 1987. (Washington Blade photo by Doug Hinckle)

Most of the houses were financed by donations from the community and through bequests from gay men who died of AIDS and named Whitman-Walker in their wills.

As part of its continued expansion, Whitman-Walker opened facilities in Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, bought a building in Anacostia where it opened the Max Robinson Center, its first AIDS service facility located east of the Anacostia River.

In 1993, Whitman-Walker opened its Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, named in honor of the famed actress turned AIDS activist, in another building it purchased at 14th and R Streets, N.W. The new facility received international press coverage when Taylor attended its opening ceremony that was carefully planned by Graham.

Jim Graham speaks with Elizabeth Taylor at the opening of the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center in 1993. (Washington Blade photo by Kristi Gasaway)

Graham resigned as executive director in January 1999 to take office as a member of the D.C. City Council, to which he was elected in November 1998. Around the time of his departure changes in the course of the AIDS epidemic began to take a financial toll on Whitman-Walker, according to those familiar with its operations at that time.

With scientific advances in anti-retroviral drugs that began to effectively curtail the virus in those who were infected, patients began to live longer and required more services for longer periods of time. The longstanding assumption that AIDS was a death sentence was replaced with the new world order that it had become a mostly non-fatal chronic disease.

While this was hailed as a wonderful development by Whitman-Walker’s large staff and vast network of programs and supporters, observers said it had an adverse impact on fundraising and other streams of income that the clinic and AIDS service group had relied upon for nearly 20 years.

As expenses for long-term treatment of patients increased, donations from the Whitman-Walker AIDS Walk, its largest single fundraising event, began to decline along with individual private donations. Some believed this was due in part to the assumption that the need to give money to AIDS causes was lessened due to the medical progress and improved treatments that stopped people from dying.

By 2005, Whitman-Walker faced its most serious financial crisis when news surfaced that it might not be able to make its payroll for the first time in its history. Part of the crisis stemmed from the dual developments of the city’s long bureaucratic delays in reimbursing health clinics, including Whitman-Walker, for health related services they provided for the city. At the same time, federal funds associated with the Ryan White CARE Act were curtailed or delayed.

The crisis prompted the board to close several programs, including its food bank and some of its sites in Virginia and Maryland. At the initiative of then-D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large), who was one of two gay Council members at the time, the D.C. government provided a one-time grant of $3.2 million to Whitman-Walker, a development that some observers believed helped it avoid having to shut its doors entirely and possibly declare bankruptcy.

In the midst of these developments, Whitman-Walker’s board in late 2005 adopted a series of changes and reforms to strengthen its financial viability, including a decision to change its structure from a mostly AIDS service organization to a community health center known officially as a Federally Qualified Health Center.

The new structure, which took effect in 2006, immediately enabled Whitman-Walker to accept far more private and government health insurance plans, decreasing its reliance and dependence on private donations and government funding.

In March 2006, the board announced it had hired Blanchon to become the new executive director beginning May 1. Blanchon had formerly served as CEO of a managed care health plan in Maryland and as vice president for Medicaid and Medicare programs for a medical management company.

Whitman-Walker Health’s Don Blanchon attends the Walk to End HIV. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Some in the LGBT community initially expressed concern that Blanchon, with the board’s full approval, would turn Whitman-Walker into a less community oriented “HMO” using profit-making techniques to undo Whitman-Walker’s longstanding role as a progressive, LGBT clinic. But others, including Blanchon, argued that the changes were needed to enable Whitman-Walker to continue its longstanding mission while becoming far more financially secure.

By March 2007, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) approved Whitman-Walker’s designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a status that enabled it to accept private insurance and Medicaid from the large number of the patients it had been treating.

“We’re blessed in the District of Columbia to have 98 or 99 percent of the population with some type of health insurance,” Blanchon told the Blade in an interview last week. “And so it would be foolish if not irresponsible for Whitman-Walker not to take health insurance,” he said.

“If 99 out of 100 people who walk through the door have some kind of coverage – CareFirst, Medicare, Medicaid — why would we say we shouldn’t take that?” he said. “That’s crazy. That’s not a good use of people’s money.”

Blanchon noted that the decision by the board to become a Federally Qualified Health Center requires that Whitman-Walker take in and provide services to all people in the community and the city, not just members of the LGBT community. But he said that requirement does not and has not changed Whitman-Walker’s mission of serving as an LGBTQ community health center that’s open to everyone.

In the years following the 2005-2006 changes, Whitman-Walker rebounded financially to a point in 2010 when it closed its fiscal year with a surplus for the first time in a decade. In 2012, one year after it changed its name to Whitman-Walker Health, it announced it finished its fiscal year in 2011 with another still larger surplus.

Today, Blanchon says that while Whitman-Walker Health is in good financial shape it still faces hurdles as circumstances in the city and in the nation continue to change. With the aim of remaining financially strong and to continue to expand its services to more people in the LGBT and broader community, Blanchon notes that Whitman-Walker in recent years entered into arrangements to acquire its new, expanded medical building at 1515 14th Street, N.W., which it leases, and to redevelop the Elizabeth Taylor Building through a partnership with a real estate developer.

Whitman-Walker Health, gay news, Washington Blade

City officials attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Whitman-Walker Health’s new facility on June 4, 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Taylor building site is currently being transformed into a large mixed use development, with space for Whitman-Walker along with residential apartments and retail and commercial space.

Blanchon points out that Whitman-Walker will remain the majority owner of the Taylor Building site while at the same time benefiting from the tremendous appreciation in its value brought about by the transformation of the 14th Street corridor in the years since Jim Graham helped orchestrate Whitman-Walker’s purchase of that building.

In addition to buying the building itself, Graham arranged a short time later for Whitman-Walker to buy two adjacent buildings and the land in the entire block on which the buildings were located.

While the benefit of the appreciation will help Whitman-Walker remain financially viable in the future, Blanchon said it has created what he says is a false image that Whitman-Walker no longer needs community donations and support because of “all this building we’re doing” between the Taylor Building project and the new leased building at 1515 14th Street, N.W.

“And the reality is nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. Among other things, Blanchon said income generated from the Taylor Building project will be used to expand and upgrade its presence east of the river in Anacostia. He said Whitman-Walker would soon be announcing plans for expanding the Max Robinson Center.

“So the board has made what I think is a really prudent decision,” he said. “This is completely a reinvestment of economic value…What we’re saying is this is analogous and it’s consistent with our values, which is we’ve benefited from something and we need to reinvest that in the next place where there is need.”

Abby Fenton, Whitman-Walker’s Chief External Affairs Officer, said Whitman-Walker would be announcing a series of events and activities scheduled for the coming months as part of an ongoing celebration of its anniversary, including an “anniversary gala” scheduled for Sept. 22.

Blanchon, meanwhile, said he was hopeful that the anniversary events will draw attention to Whitman-Walker’s future role in providing for healthcare needs of the LGBT community as well as its work in the past.

In discussing what he called the dark days of the AIDS epidemic Blanchon said people should never forget the role that Whitman-Walker’s many leaders, supporters, and volunteers played in responding to the epidemic.

“That is fundamentally one of the most compassionate and most human responses that you’ll ever see in the face of tragedy,” he said. “And it’s unbelievably powerful. It’s unbelievably emotive. It’s unbelievably sad and painful to so many of us.”

But while AIDS continues to be a serious problem facing D.C. and the nation, Blanchon said Whitman-Walker must adapt to the changes that have taken place over the past 20 years if it is to remain relevant to the community it serves.

“As poignant, as important as our community role was during the epidemic, with all due respect, we don’t live there now,” he said. “And that can’t solely define us anymore. We have to be defined by what the LGBTQ community needs from us now and in the future,” he continued. “And what are we willing to do with their continued support, financially, and their time, their talents? And it has to be about moving forward.”

Whitman-Walker’s 40th anniversary events

Whitman-Walker Health has released the following list of events it says it will hold this year between Jan. 20 and Oct. 27 to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

 

Jan. 20: 8-11 p.m. 40TH ANNIVERSARY DANCE PARTY – Dance party at Town to celebrate WWH’s birthday

 

Feb. 21: 8-10 a.m. MAX ROBINSON PANEL DISCUSSION – Join local journalists as they remember Max Robinson and also talk about their own careers as African-American reporters in D.C. The event will be held at the The Lincoln Theatre. Discussion will be moderated by Max Robinson’s former co-anchor Gordon Peterson. Panel will include Maureen Bunyan (confirmed).

 

May 23, 2018 GOING THE EXTRA MILE – Join us for our an annual cocktail reception at The Hamilton honoring our pro bono legal volunteers, recognizing our allies, and raising money to continue to provide free legal services to our underserved neighbors.

 

June 2, 2018 CAPITAL PRIDE WOMEN’S KICK-OFF PARTY at Big Chief with Mautner Project of Whitman-Walker Health

 

Sept. 22, 2018 40th ANNIVERSARY GALA Join us at the Marriott Marquis Hotel for our big event. An opening cocktail reception with passed hors d’oeuvres will kick off the evening. Following the reception, the gala will extend into a seated dinner and speaking program reflecting on our past, present and future.

 

Oct. 27, 2018 THE WALK TO END HIV Join us for our most important most fun fundraising event of the year. The Walk & 5K to End HIV is a fundraising walk and 5K timed run benefiting Whitman-Walker Health.

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Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise

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Despite having President Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the prohibition on discrimination against LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act are all but dead as opponents of the measure have contorted it beyond recognition.

Political willpower is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end a filibuster on the bill — a tall order in any event — nor is there the willpower to force a vote on the Equality Act as opponents stoke fears about transgender kids in sports and not even unanimity in the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity said.

In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride month is days away, which would be an opportune time for Congress to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community by holding a vote on the legislation.

If the Equality Act were to come up for a Senate vote in the next month, it would not have the support to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of additional support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster.

“I haven’t really heard an update either way, which is usually not good,” one Democratic insider said. “My understanding is that our side was entrenched in a no-compromise mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, it doomed it this Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments of why it was broadly needed.”

The only thing keeping the final nail from being hammered into the Equality Act’s coffin is the unwillingness of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to the Blade continued to assert bipartisan talks are ongoing, strongly pushing back on any conclusion the legislation is dead.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Equality Act is “alive and well,” citing widespread public support he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.”

“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” David added. “As we engage with elected officials, we have confidence that Congress will listen to the voices of their constituents and continue fighting for the Equality Act through the lengthy legislative process.  We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to grow the already-high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the Equality Act is passed.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), chief sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, also signaled through a spokesperson work continues on the legislation, refusing to give up on expectations the legislation would soon become law.

“Sen. Merkley and his staff are in active discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to get this done,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that we expect to become law.”

A spokesperson Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had promised to force a vote on the Equality Act in the Senate on the day the U.S. House approved it earlier this year, pointed to a March 25 “Dear Colleague” letter in which he identified the Equality Act as one of several bills he’d bring up for a vote.

Despite any assurances, the hold up on the bill is apparent. Although the U.S. House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even reported out the bill yet to the floor in the aftermath of the first-ever Senate hearing on the bill in March. A Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic aide, however, disputed that inaction as evidence the Equality Act is dead in its tracks: “Bipartisan efforts on a path forward are ongoing.”

Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for inaction on the Equality Act, but with Manchin withholding his support for the legislation they can’t even count on the entirety of their caucus to vote “yes” if it came to the floor. Progressives continue to advocate an end to the filibuster to advance legislation Biden has promised as part of his agenda, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to advance legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to win approval in the Senate with a 50-50 party split.

The office of Manchin, who has previously said he couldn’t support the Equality Act over concerns about public schools having to implement the transgender protections applying to sports and bathrooms, hasn’t responded to multiple requests this year from the Blade on the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the Equality Act this year after having signed onto the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson talks are still happening across the aisle despite the appearances the legislation is dead.

“There continues to be bipartisan support for passing a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form, it cannot pass. That’s why there are ongoing discussions among senators and stakeholders about a path forward.”

Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have railroaded the debate by making the Equality Act about an end to women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and danger to women in sex-segregated places like bathrooms and prisons. That doesn’t even get into resolving the issue on drawing the line between civil rights for LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be litigated in the courts as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day now to issue a ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia to determine if foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples over religious objections.

For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of the Equality Act may be most keenly felt.

Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, disputed any notion the Equality Act is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive.”

“We remain optimistic despite misinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our movement partners are still working fruitfully on the Equality Act with senators. In fact, we are gaining momentum with all the field organizing we’re doing, like phone banking constituents to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever gets through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote during this Congress, and we are hopeful we can win.”

But one Democratic source said calls to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, have has outnumbered calls in favor of it by a substantial margin, with a particular emphasis on Manchin.

No stories are present in the media about same-sex couples being kicked out of a restaurant for holding hands or transgender people for using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 states thanks to the patchwork of civil rights laws throughout the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the American Unity Fund, which has bolstered the Republican-led Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act, said he continues to believe the votes are present for a compromise form of the bill.

“I know for a fact there is a supermajority level of support in the Senate for a version of the Equality Act that is fully protective of both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in getting something done this Congress.”

Deaton, however, didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on what evidence exists of agreeing on this compromise.

Biden has already missed the goal he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. Although Biden renewed his call to pass the legislation in his speech to Congress last month, as things stand now that appears to be a goal he won’t realize for the remainder of this Congress.

Nor has the Biden administration made the Equality Act an issue for top officials within the administration as it pushes for an infrastructure package as a top priority. One Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, legislative affairs director for the White House, delegated work on the Equality Act to a deputy as opposed to handling it herself.

To be sure, Biden has demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the fullest extent possible and dismantling former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ appointments with the confirmation of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.

A White House spokesperson insisted Biden’s team across the board remains committed to the Equality Act, pointing to his remarks to Congress.

“President Biden has urged Congress to get the Equality Act to his desk so he can sign it into law and provide long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The White House and its entire legislative team remains in ongoing and close coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure we are working across the aisle to push the Equality Act forward.”

But at least in the near-term, that progress will fall short of fulfilling the promise of updating federal civil rights law with the Equality Act, which will mean LGBTQ people won’t be able to rely on those protections when faced with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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D.C. bill to ban LGBTQ panic defense delayed by Capitol security

Delivery of bill to Congress was held up due to protocols related to Jan. 6 riots

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New fencing around the Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented some D.C. bills from being delivered to the Hill for a required congressional review. (Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

A bill approved unanimously last December by the D.C. Council to ban the so-called LGBTQ panic defense has been delayed from taking effect as a city law because the fence installed around the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented the law from being delivered to Congress.

According to Eric Salmi, communications director for D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who guided the bill through the Council’s legislative process, all bills approved by the Council and signed by the D.C. mayor must be hand-delivered to Congress for a required congressional review.

“What happened was when the Capitol fence went up after the January insurrection, it created an issue where we physically could not deliver laws to Congress per the congressional review period,” Salmi told the Washington Blade.

Among the bills that could not immediately be delivered to Congress was the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020, which was approved by the Council on a second and final vote on Dec. 15.

Between the time the bill was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and published in the D.C. Register under procedural requirements for all bills, it was not ready to be transmitted to Congress until Feb. 16, the Council’s legislative record for the bill shows.

Salmi said the impasse in delivering the bill to Congress due to the security fence prevented the bill from reaching Congress on that date and prevented the mandatory 60-day congressional review period for this bill from beginning at that time. He noted that most bills require a 30 legislative day review by Congress.

But the Evangelista-Hunter bill, named after a transgender woman and a gay man who died in violent attacks by perpetrators who attempted to use the trans and gay panic defense, includes a law enforcement related provision that under the city’s Home Rule Charter passed by Congress in the early 1970s requires a 60-day congressional review.

“There is a chance it goes into effect any day now, just given the timeline is close to being up,” Salmi said on Tuesday. “I don’t know the exact date it was delivered, but I do know the countdown is on,” said Salmi, who added, “I would expect any day now it should go into effect and there’s nothing stopping it other than an insurrection in January.”

If the delivery to Congress had not been delayed, the D.C. Council’s legislative office estimated the congressional review would have been completed by May 12.

A congressional source who spoke on condition of being identified only as a senior Democratic aide, said the holdup of D.C. bills because of the Capitol fence has been corrected.

“The House found an immediate workaround, when this issue first arose after the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the aide said.

“This is yet another reason why D.C. Council bills should not be subject to a congressional review period and why we need to grant D.C. statehood,” the aide said.

The aide added that while no disapproval resolution had been introduced in Congress to overturn the D.C. Evangelista-Hunter bill, House Democrats would have defeated such a resolution.

“House Democrats support D.C. home rule, statehood, and LGBTQ rights,” said the aide.

LGBTQ rights advocates have argued that a ban on using a gay or transgender panic defense in criminal trials is needed to prevent defense attorneys from inappropriately asking juries to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression is to blame for a defendant’s criminal act, including murder.

Some attorneys have argued that their clients “panicked” after discovering the person against whom they committed a violent crime was gay or transgender, prompting them to act in a way they believed to be a form of self-defense.

In addition to its provision banning the LGBTQ panic defense, the Evangelista-Hunter bill includes a separate provision that strengthens the city’s existing hate crimes law by clarifying that hatred need not be the sole motivating factor for an underlying crime such as assault, murder, or threats to be prosecuted as a hate crime.

LGBTQ supportive prosecutors have said the clarification was needed because it is often difficult to prove to a jury that hatred is the only motive behind a violent crime. The prosecutors noted that juries have found defendants not guilty of committing a hate crime on grounds that they believed other motives were involved in a particular crime after defense lawyers argued that the law required “hate” to be the only motive in order to find someone guilty of a hate crime.

Salmi noted that while the hate crime clarification and panic defense prohibition provisions of the Evangelista-Hunter bill will become law as soon as the congressional review is completed, yet another provision in the bill will not become law after the congressional review because there are insufficient funds in the D.C. budget to cover the costs of implementing the provision.

The provision gives the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the Office of the D.C. Attorney General authority to investigate hate related discrimination at places of public accommodation. Salmi said the provision expands protections against discrimination to include web-based retailers or online delivery services that are not physically located in D.C.

“That is subject to appropriations,” Salmi said. “And until it is funded in the upcoming budget it cannot be legally enforced.”

He said that at Council member Allen’s request, the Council added language to the bill that ensures that all other provisions of the legislation that do not require additional funding – including the ban on use of the LGBTQ panic defense and the provision clarifying that hatred doesn’t have to be the sole motive for a hate crime – will take effect as soon as the congressional approval process is completed.

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D.C. man charged with 2020 anti-gay death threat rearrested

Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011

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shooting, DC Eagle, assault, hate crime, anti-gay attack, police discrimination, sex police, Sisson, gay news, Washington Blade

A D.C. man arrested in August 2020 for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the victim’s apartment in the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood and who was released while awaiting trial was arrested again two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill another man in an unrelated incident.

D.C. Superior Court records show that Jalal Malki, who was 37 at the time of his 2020 arrest on a charge of bias-related attempts to do bodily harm against the gay man, was charged on May 4, 2021 with unlawful entry, simple assault, threats to kidnap and injure a person, and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon against the owner of a vacant house at 4412 Georgia Ave., N.W.

Court charging documents state that Malki was allegedly staying at the house without permission as a squatter. An arrest affidavit filed in court by D.C. police says Malki allegedly threatened to kill the man who owns the house shortly after the man arrived at the house while Malki was inside.

According to the affidavit, Malki walked up to the owner of the house while the owner was sitting in his car after having called police and told him, “If you come back here, I’m going to kill you.” While making that threat Malki displayed what appeared to be a gun in his waistband, but which was later found to be a toy gun, the affidavit says.

Malki then walked back inside the house minutes before police arrived and arrested him. Court records show that similar to the court proceedings following his 2020 arrest for threatening the gay man, a judge in the latest case ordered Malki released while awaiting trial. In both cases, the judge ordered him to stay away from the two men he allegedly threatened to kill.

An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police in the 2020 case states that Malki allegedly made the threats inside an apartment building where the victim lived on the 2300 block of Champlain Street, N.W. It says Malki was living in a nearby building but often visited the building where the victim lived.

“Victim 1 continued to state during an interview that it was not the first time that Defendant 1 had made threats to him, but this time Defendant 1 stated that if he caught him outside, he would ‘fucking kill him.’” the affidavit says. It quotes the victim as saying during this time Malki repeatedly called the victim a “fucking faggot.”

The affidavit, prepared by the arresting officers, says that after the officers arrested Malki and were leading him to a police transport vehicle to be booked for the arrest, he expressed an “excited utterance” that he was “in disbelief that officers sided with the ‘fucking faggot.’”

Court records show that Malki is scheduled to appear in court on June 4 for a status hearing for both the 2020 arrest and the arrest two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill the owner of the house in which police say he was illegally squatting.

Superior Court records show that Malki had been arrested three times between 2011 and 2015 in cases unrelated to the 2021 and 2020 cases for allegedly also making threats of violence against people. Two of the cases appear to be LGBTQ related, but prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not list the cases as hate crimes.

In the first of the three cases, filed in July 2011, Malki allegedly shoved a man inside Dupont Circle and threatened to kill him after asking the man why he was wearing a purple shirt.

“Victim 1 believes the assault occurred because Suspect 1 believes Victim 1 is a homosexual,” the police arrest affidavit says.

Court records show prosecutors charged Malki with simple assault and threats to do bodily harm in the case. But the court records show that on Sept. 13, 2011, D.C. Superior Court Judge Stephen F. Eilperin found Malki not guilty on both charges following a non-jury trial.

The online court records do not state why the judge rendered a not guilty verdict. With the courthouse currently closed to the public and the press due to COVID-related restrictions, the Washington Blade couldn’t immediately obtain the records to determine the judge’s reason for the verdict.

In the second case, court records show Malki was arrested by D.C. police outside the Townhouse Tavern bar and restaurant at 1637 R St., N.W. on Nov. 7, 2012 for allegedly threatening one or more people with a knife after employees ordered Malki to leave the establishment for “disorderly behavior.”

At the time, the Townhouse Tavern was located next door to the gay nightclub Cobalt, which before going out of business two years ago, was located at the corner of 17th and R Streets, N.W.

The police arrest affidavit in the case says Malki allegedly pointed a knife in a threatening way at two of the tavern’s employees who blocked his path when he attempted to re-enter the tavern. The affidavit says he was initially charged by D.C. police with assault with a dangerous weapon – knife. Court records, however, show that prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office lowered the charges to two counts of simple assault. The records show that on Jan. 15, 2013, Malki pleaded guilty to the two charges as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

The records show that Judge Marissa Demeo on that same day issued a sentence of 30 days for each of the two charges but suspended all 30 days for both counts. She then sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for both charges and ordered that he undergo alcohol and drug testing and undergo treatment if appropriate.

In the third case prior to the 2020 and 2021 cases, court records show Malki was arrested outside the Cobalt gay nightclub on March 14, 2015 on multiple counts of simple assault, attempted assault with a dangerous weapon – knife, possession of a prohibited weapon – knife, and unlawful entry.

The arrest affidavit says an altercation started on the sidewalk outside the bar when for unknown reasons, Malki grabbed a female customer who was outside smoking and attempted to pull her toward him. When her female friend came to her aid, Malki allegedly got “aggressive” by threatening the woman and “removed what appeared to be a knife from an unknown location” and pointed it at the woman’s friend in a threatening way, the affidavit says.

It says a Cobalt employee minutes later ordered Malki to leave the area and he appeared to do so. But others noticed that he walked toward another entrance door to Cobalt and attempted to enter the establishment knowing he had been ordered not to return because of previous problems with his behavior, the affidavit says. When he attempted to push away another employee to force his way into Cobalt, Malki fell to the ground during a scuffle and other employees held him on the ground while someone else called D.C. police.

Court records show that similar to all of Malki’s arrests, a judge released him while awaiting trial and ordered him to stay away from Cobalt and all of those he was charged with threatening and assaulting.

The records show that on Sept. 18, 2015, Malki agreed to a plea bargain offer by prosecutors in which all except two of the charges – attempted possession of a prohibited weapon and simple assault – were dropped. Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. on Oct. 2, 2015 sentenced Malki to 60 days of incarnation for each of the two charges but suspended all but five days, which he allowed Malki to serve on weekends, the court records show.

The judge ordered that the two five-day jail terms could be served concurrently, meaning just five days total would be served, according to court records. The records also show that Judge Irving sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for each of the two counts and ordered that he enter an alcohol treatment program and stay away from Cobalt.

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