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Boese beats Nadeau for Stein Club endorsement in Ward 1

Cheh wins Ward 3 backing; no endorsement made in at-large race

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Kent Boese, gay news, Washington Blade

Kent Boese won the endorsement of the Stein Club. (Photo courtesy Boese)

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club voted Monday night to endorse gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Kent Boese over incumbent Brianne Nadeau for the Ward 1 D.C. Council seat in the city’s June 19 Democratic primary.

By unanimous voice vote, the club also endorsed Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh, a longtime LGBT rights supporter who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.

In the race for the Democratic nomination for one of two at-large D.C. Council seats, the club will not make an endorsement because none of the candidates, including incumbent at-large Council member Anita Bonds, received a required 60 percent of the vote needed for an endorsement under the Stein Club’s rules.

Boese’s victory over Nadeau by a margin of 31 votes to 8 votes surprised some observers who noted that Nadeau has been a strong supporter of LGBT rights during her first term in office. Some club members wondered why more of her LGBT supporters in the ward didn’t turn out to vote for her.

Boese, who’s a member of the Stein Club, the city’s largest local LGBT political group, told club members that in addition to his experience working on a wide range of city issues as an ANC member, his status as a gay man gives him a greater insight into issues of concern to LGBT residents of the ward and the city as a whole.

“As the only LGBT candidate in this race I understand nuances that the others may not,” he said.

The vote came during the first of two candidate endorsement forums the Stein Club has planned for the city’s Democratic primary. It was held in a meeting hall at Kelsey Temple Church of God on Park Road, N.W. in the heart of the city’s Columbia Heights neighborhood in Ward 1.

In addition of Boese and Nadeau, two other Democrats challenging Nadeau in the primary — Lori Parker and Sheika Reid — attended and spoke at Monday night’s forum. All four of the Ward 1 candidates expressed strong support for LGBT rights. Reid received 3 votes and Parker received 2 votes among club members in the Ward 1 race.

Also expressing strong support for LGBT issues were Bonds and three Democratic candidates challenging Bonds for the at-large Council seat in the June 19 primary – Marcus Goodwin, Aaron Holmes, and Jeremiah Lowery.

The outcome of the vote by Stein Club members in the at-large race also surprised some observers. Bonds, a longtime LGBT rights supporter who was considered the favorite to win the club’s endorsement, and Goodwin each received 14 votes. Lowery received 5 votes, Holmes received 4 votes, and the category of “no endorsement” received one vote.

In accordance with club rules, members approved a motion to hold a runoff vote between Bonds and Goodwin as the top two vote getters. In that second round of voting Bonds received 12 votes and Goodwin received eight votes. Four members voted for “no endorsement.”

But Bonds fell short of receiving the club’s endorsement because the club’s rules require a 60 percent or greater vote total in order to win an endorsement. The outcome means the club will not make an endorsement for one of the two at-large D.C. Council seats up for election this year.

If it chooses to do so, the club can make an endorsement of a candidate running for the second at-large seat, which cannot go to a Democrat under the city’s Home Rule Charter approved by Congress. In that race, lesbian restaurant owner Dione Reeder is running as an independent against incumbent at-large Council member Elissa Silverman, who’s also an independent.

Reeder attended Monday night’s Stein Club endorsement forum, saying she attends as many of the city’s election forums as time permits. She said she would also seek the club’s endorsement when it considers candidates running in the general election later this year.

During a question and answer period, nearly all of the candidates said they thought one of the biggest concerns for LGBT people in the city was the same as that for the public at large – the skyrocketing cost of housing that is forcing many longtime city residents to leave the city. The candidates also cited the threat of anti-LGBT violence as another key issue they would work to address.

The Stein Club has scheduled its second endorsement forum for May 15 in which it will consider endorsements for mayor, City Council chair, the Ward 5 and Ward 6 Council seats, the city’s congressional delegate seat currently held by Eleanor Holmes Norton, and the “shadow” House and one of two “shadow” Senate seats up for election.

Stein Club President Earl Fowlkes told the Washington Blade after Monday night’s forum that club members’ strong support for Boese over Nadeau and their unexpectedly strong support for political newcomer Marcus Goodwin in the at-large Council race may be due to changing demographics among the city’s voters.

“The political climate is changing in D.C.,” he said. “We have a lot of new people moving in and their expectations of City Council members are different. And I think both candidates who are incumbents have to spend a lot more time educating new voters and younger people about their records,” Fowlkes said.

Trayon White ‘anti-Semitic’ allegations surface

During the round of questioning from club members, each of the candidates in the Ward 1 and at-large Council races was asked about the controversy surrounding D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8).

The controversy first surfaced last month after the Washington Post published stories reporting that White had stated on social media that the Rothschilds, a Jewish banking family in Europe, controlled the weather and had influence over the U.S. government and the World Bank. White issued an apology after prominent Jewish community leaders expressed concern that those views were part of longstanding anti-Semitic and fake conspiracy theories.

The controversy appeared to be fading until the Post reported on Friday that White used his Council constituent services fund to make a $500 donation in January to a Nation of Islam conference in Chicago in which Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan made remarks disparaging of Jews and transgender people.

Each of the Council candidates that spoke at Monday’s Stein Club forum responded to the questions by saying White made a mistake in using constituent services funds to make his donation to the Nation of Islam. Each also called on White to request a refund of the donation.

Nadeau reiterated her earlier statement calling on the Council to vote to reprimand White for his donation to the Nation of Islam. Bonds called for White to seek a refund of his donation but said she was undecided over whether the Council should reprimand White.

Fowlkes said he believes Farrakhan is both anti-Semitic and a homophobe, but he said he doesn’t think White or all members of the Nation of Islam should be held responsible for what Farrakhan says or does any more than all Catholics should be held responsible for what a Pope says.

He said he thinks White made a mistake in making the donation with constituent funds to the Nation of Islam conference in January.

White, who won election to the Council in 2016, has expressed support for LGBT rights in his responses to the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance’s candidate questionnaire at the time White ran for his Council seat in 2016. White has also signed on as a co-sponsor to a bill introduced last year by Nadeau that would require the city’s motor vehicles department to allow people to choose the category of “non-binary” in describing their gender on a driver’s license rather than having to choose their gender as either male or female.

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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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Biden names civil rights veteran to U.S. Education Dept.

Catherine Lhamon’s portfolio will include LGBTQ rights, sexual misconduct, racial discrimination

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Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education Catherine Lhamon. (Photo public domain))

The White House announced Thursday that President Joe Biden has nominated Catherine Lhamon to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.

Lhamon currently serves as a Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for Racial Justice and Equity at the White House, where she manages the President’s equity policy portfolio. She is a former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU) and served as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 2017 to 2021.

She has also served as Legal Affairs Secretary to California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Her portfolio at Education, where she previously served in the same position under former President Barack Obama, will include LGBTQ rights, sexual misconduct and racial discrimination in the nation’s K-12 schools, universities and colleges. Lhamon was Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, to which President Obama nominated her and the Senate confirmed her in 2013.

“I am thrilled that President Biden is nominating Catherine Lhamon to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Catherine has devoted her career to ensuring equity is at the core of all her work,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement released by his office Thursday.

“She has a strong record of fighting for communities of color and underserved communities, whether as the current Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council, the former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, or as a civil rights educator at Georgetown University. We are thrilled to have Catherine serving as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and know she will continue to fight for fairness, equity, and justice for all of America’s students.”

Lhamon has also litigated civil rights cases at National Center for Youth Law, Public Counsel Law Center, and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.  Lhamon taught federal civil rights appeals at Georgetown University Law Center in the Appellate Litigation Program and clerked for the Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Catherine Lhamon is the right choice to lead the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights at such a critical time for the country and the agency. There is much work to do in order to roll back the harmful policies and legacies of Betsy DeVos, from her attacks on transgender students to her unconscionable revocation of discriminatory discipline guidance and rewrite of Title IX rules,” Adele Kimmel, Director of the Students’ Civil Rights Project at Public Justice told the Blade in an email.

“During her previous tenure in the same job, Catherine embraced equality, enforced Title IX and ensured students had an ally inside the federal government. She will do so again, and the Senate should move to quickly confirm her so she can begin the work of restoring the Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights and dignity of students and implementing the Biden Administration’s pledge to undo the damage that DeVos has done,” Kimmel added.

Born in Virginia and raised in California, Lhamon graduated from Amherst College and Yale Law School. Lhamon and her husband and two daughters are transitioning between California and Maryland.

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IDAHOBiT events to promote intersectionality, resilience, allyship

HRC president to participate in virtual panel in Canada

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(Photo courtesy of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia committee)

 

Intersectionality, resilience and allyship are among the themes that this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia events will highlight.

Dignity Network Canada and the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention on May 17 will hold a virtual panel that will feature Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, Canadian Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity Executive Director Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, Kaleidoscope Trust Executive Director Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, COC Nederland Executive Director Marie Ricardo and Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. The British High Commission and the Dutch Embassy in Canada have co-sponsored the event.

“We hope that this will be a really interesting and important conversation on intersectionality and transnational solidarity — and what it means for these leaders and their organizations during these times,” reads a description of the event.

The U.N. LGBTI Core Group on May 17 will host a virtual IDAHOBiT event that will focus on ways to develop an “inclusive and diverse post-pandemic world.” The World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American and Asian Development Banks host a similar IDAHOBiT commemoration.

“In order to heal from the economic, social, and public health dire impact the pandemic has had and still has, every plan of recovery must take into account a human-rights based, intersectional and gender responsive approach that addresses the specific needs of LGBTI persons in order not to leave them further behind,” reads a description of the U.N. LGBTI Core Group event.

Several Russian LGBTQ rights groups on May 17 will hold a “Vaccine for Acceptance” event that seeks to bolster allyship in the country.

Retired South Africa Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron on May 16 will moderate a virtual panel that will focus on religion and anti-LGBTQ violence.

Workplace Pride and the Dutch Embassy in Budapest on May 17 will host a symposium on LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces in Hungary. M.V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, on the same day will participate in a webinar the U.S. Embassy in Singapore is hosting with Oogachaga, a local LGBTQ advocacy group.

Haver Srbija, a Serbian NGO, on May 15-16 will hold Falafel, a film festival that seeks to build “bridges and promotes Israeli, Jewish and LGBTQI culture and communities” and highlight “various social issues in the context of the fight against prejudice, discrimination, anti-Semitism, homophobia and xenophobia and encourages the audience to develop critical thinking on the issue of these topics.” Proud Lebanon is slated to hold a series of six webinars between May 17-22 that will focus on feminism, LGBTQ rights and other topics.

The National Center for Sexual Education in Cuba will hold a series of virtual forums and other events through the month to commemorate IDAHOBiT.

CENESEX Director Mariela Castro, whose father is former Cuban President Raúl Castro, during a May 4 press conference in Havana said the IDAHOBiT events are part of the process of amending the country’s family code to make it more equitable for LGBTQ Cubans. Mariela Castro said a bill to amend it will be introduced in the Cuban Parliament in July.

“I was able to appreciate that the majority of the population … is in favor of recognizing the rights of LGBTI+ people and especially the rights in the family sphere that include the possibility, the option, of marriage,” said Mariela Castro during the press conference, according to Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba.

IDAHOBiT commemorates the World Health Organization’s 1990 decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

This year’s events will take place against the backdrop of a pandemic that continues to exacerbate existing inequalities for LGBTQ people and other vulnerable groups around the world.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in dozens of countries. Violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation remains rampant in the U.S. and throughout the world.

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