It’s pronounced “Boot-a-judge.”
That was the first thing South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg cleared up for the Washington Blade in response to questions about his 2020 presidential run in a Jan. 31 interview.
Buttigieg, a Rhodes scholar and Afghanistan veteran, beefed up his national profile in his 2017 run to become Democratic National Committee chair.
The 2020 White House hopeful announced his exploratory committee last month. If successful, the long shot Buttigieg would be the first openly gay person to win the Democratic presidential nomination and the White House.
LGBT priorities for Buttigieg, who said he’d run a campaign based on the themes of freedom, democracy and security, include passage of the Equality Act and greater visibility for transgender people.
Distinguishing himself from other 2020 hopefuls, Buttigieg said he supports transgender people having access to transition-related care, even when they’re in prison. Other candidates, including Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, have different records on that issue.
The full Q&A between the Blade and Buttigieg follows:
Washington Blade: You’re running in a field of Democratic candidates, many of whom have been longtime LGBT allies. What do you bring to the table that’s different?
Pete Buttigieg: First of all, I’m very mindful of the possibility of being the first out nominee in American history, and you know, I think it’s safe to say for many reasons, I’m not like the others.
I also just have a different outlook: I am from the industrial Midwest, I’m in local government and I come from a generation that I think really needs to be stepping forward right now. I think our generation has so much at stake in the future and the decisions that are being made today, and I think it really shows the people in charge, like the current president and administration, don’t care very much about the future because they don’t plan to be here.
2054 is the year when I will reach the current age of the current president, and I think you just take some of these decisions about climate, about the economy much more seriously if you’re hoping to be here in 2054.
What we have here right now is a sequence of decisions that have been made that are very short term, very destructive and it’s time for voices from a generation that has a personal stake in that future to step forward and talk about how we can make that future different.
Blade: But what makes you think you can win the White House if you get the nomination?
Buttigieg: I think the message needs to revolve around three themes: freedom, democracy and security. I think that you have a very strong, progressive foundation for those issues, but I also think we’ve not done a very good job of communicating them across the aisle.
Freedom is something that I think has been monopolized by conservatives in terms of political rhetoric, but when I think about everything from the freedom to marry to the freedom to start a new business knowing you can still get health care, it’s really progressive and Democrats have delivered the kinds of freedom that are most important for our daily lived experience.
When it comes to democracy, I think we’ve demonstrated that we are the party that is more interested in making sure that more people can vote, and I think this needs to be part of a national conversation as well. We need to shore up our democracy through a number of reforms, including D.C. statehood, that just make our democratic republic a little more democratic.
And then on security, we’ve got to understand 21st century security means a lot more than just border security and traditional military issues. I was in the military. I certainly spent a lot of time thinking about traditional military issues, but we have to be talking about cybersecurity, election security, climate security, digital security. And I think people are ready for a message that’s just different from what we’ve had before.
We have a profoundly, almost historically, unpopular president, but that doesn’t mean he gets defeated on his own if we don’t have a compelling message that’s different and better.
Blade: Let’s bring this closer to our LGBT readers. How does support for the LGBT community figure into your run for the presidency?
Buttigieg: I think that it will be vital. I think it will be a spruce of lifeblood because we are perhaps the only minority in more or less equal proportion across every racial, ethnic, economic and geographic group in the country, so one thing that will be very important for the success of this project, especially early on when people take your measure based on fundraising is to be able to demonstrate grassroots support from people in the community who believe that representation at the highest levels, actually having someone from the LGBTQ community on the ballot is important, that it will make things better for the next person who comes along and that America needs to be given a chance to demonstrate that it’s ready for this.
Blade: In terms of LGBT rights issues, where do you want to go with that?
Buttigieg: I think one of the big things that we’re looking at, of course, is the Equality Act. I live in a state where it is still — not in South Bend because we took local action, but in most parts of my state it’s still perfectly legal to be fired for who you are, and I think we need better legislation, civil rights legislation that takes care of that.
Obviously, we have a lot of issues with hate crimes now in Indiana. At the state level, we’ve been pursuing hate crimes legislation. We have federal hate crimes legislation, but we have to do a lot more, including, not just at the policy level, but at the cultural level. There’s several reasons why hate crimes have gone up by most measures in recent years, and I think, a lot of that starts at the top. It has to do with leadership, it has to do with the tone that it set by those in charge and it has to change.
Blade: What concerns you most about how President Trump is handling LGBT issues?
Buttigieg: Obviously the attack on trans rights and the trans military ban is extremely disturbing. When I was in the military, the people I served with could not have cared less whether I was going home to a girlfriend or boyfriend. They just wanted to know that I was going to be someone they could trust with their lives and vice-versa.
Trans members of the military who are willing to put their lives on the line in order to defend this country deserve to be supported by their commander in chief, and it’s extremely disturbing, especially for someone who, let’s face it, kind of pink-washed his campaign early on and portrayed himself as somebody who might change the way the Republican Party related to the LGBT community to turn around and do this demonstrates that he was never serious about that, not to mention the elevation of Mike Pence to one heartbeat away from the presidency.
Blade: What kind of place will transgender people have in your campaign and your presidency?
Buttigieg: A very prominent place. I’ve been really heartened to see more people, especially in my generation, stepping forward. I think Danica Roem opened a lot of doors in terms of elected leadership, and I think we will be looking to make sure that our campaign as well as a future administration reflects the diversity of this country. Obviously, that includes making sure there are visible roles for trans people.
Blade: One question I want to pose to you because it has been a point of differentiation among the Democratic candidates: Should transgender people, even if they’re in prison, have access to gender reassignment surgery?
Buttigieg: Yeah. I believe that’s part of health care. We provide health care to people who are serving the country, we provide health care to people who are incarcerated. I think the bigger issue is that too many people are incarcerated, but if you are, we need to treat everybody the same, and if you regard this, as I do, as part of health care.
Look, people try to turn others against this around the issue of cost, but the spectacular costs of incarceration have very little to do with things like gender reassignment.
Blade: Are you aware Kamala Harris as California attorney general defended the California Department of Corrections in seeking to deny surgery to transgender inmates and what do you make of that?
Buttigieg: I was not aware of that. I do know that California, if I understand correctly, is one of the few places that has been able to provide that, and I think that the rationale for it is based on it being — not only that it can be medically necessary for many inmates, but also there are shockingly high rates of sexual assaults or sexual abuse for transgender people who are incarcerated, so I think that moving in that direction was the right thing to do and I hope that more states take a look at that, especially the ones that want to ensure that we’re preventing sexual abuse.
Blade: What kind of endorsements has your potential candidacy obtained so far and how do you expect them to grow?
Buttigieg: Obviously, this is a very early phase. We just announced the exploratory committee last Wednesday, but we are going to seek endorsements from organizations and individuals. We’ve already reached out to the Victory Fund, to the Human Rights Campaign and to a lot of the people I respect and talked about.
Rightly, they are taking their time and they’re being very deliberate about this, but I do hope that we will earn that and demonstrate somebody like me belongs in this conversation at the highest level. Hopefully, we will continue to mobilize the support we need in order to be taken seriously.
This first quarter is critical because this is where we establish that we belong at the table, then it becomes a matter, once we’ve shown enough early organizational support at the end of the quarter, then we no longer have to answer questions about whether we belong in the conversation and start really focusing on making sure that what we have to say in the conversation justifies more and more support.
Blade: What will it take for you to move from an exploratory committee to a candidacy in the legal sense?
Buttigieg: I want us to be in a position to have a very strong launch coming out of the gate both in terms of the sort of event we are launching and in terms of the organizational support we have on Day One of that phase, that we’re right where we want to be.
Blade: I’ve had experts tell me you face challenges because you don’t have the name recognition of other candidates and you should run for governor and not president. What would you say to that?
This is not about steps for me…I believe in running for an office when you believe what you offer matches the needs of the moment and I am surprised as anybody that things have come this far, but I think we’ve gotten to a moment where what that office most needs is someone entirely new, something very different, something that is not rooted in the way Washington works today and has more generational energy and on the ground local experience than anybody else…
I just don’t believe that you run for office because you would love to have it or because you think it’s the right step along the way because these offices are too important. You run for office because you think what you have meets the moment, and every time I’ve decided to run for office and every time I’ve decided not to run for an office has been the outcome of that same process of discernment.
Blade: Has anyone told you a gay person cannot be elected president in the year 2020?
Buttigieg: Yes. Some believe that’s the case, and I think there is only one way to demonstrate conclusively that that’s not true.
Blade: If there are LGBT people or people anywhere who want to support you, what is the biggest way to help out?
Buttigieg: So, peteforamerica.com is the place where you can add your name to the list, if you want to be on the list so we know you’re a supporter, if you want to make a financial contribution, which again, right now, in terms of showing we belong at the table, part of how they take your measure is that grassroots financial support.
Over time, especially in early states, we will need help on the ground getting known, making introductions, winning people over and then hopefully as that grows, more and more of a field organization that will have all kinds of roles for people, but you can start by going to peteforamerica.com and adding your name so we know who’s out there to support us.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length.
Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead
No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise
Despite having President Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the prohibition on discrimination against LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act are all but dead as opponents of the measure have contorted it beyond recognition.
Political willpower is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end a filibuster on the bill — a tall order in any event — nor is there the willpower to force a vote on the Equality Act as opponents stoke fears about transgender kids in sports and not even unanimity in the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity said.
In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride month is days away, which would be an opportune time for Congress to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community by holding a vote on the legislation.
If the Equality Act were to come up for a Senate vote in the next month, it would not have the support to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of additional support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster.
“I haven’t really heard an update either way, which is usually not good,” one Democratic insider said. “My understanding is that our side was entrenched in a no-compromise mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, it doomed it this Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments of why it was broadly needed.”
The only thing keeping the final nail from being hammered into the Equality Act’s coffin is the unwillingness of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to the Blade continued to assert bipartisan talks are ongoing, strongly pushing back on any conclusion the legislation is dead.
Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Equality Act is “alive and well,” citing widespread public support he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.”
“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” David added. “As we engage with elected officials, we have confidence that Congress will listen to the voices of their constituents and continue fighting for the Equality Act through the lengthy legislative process. We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to grow the already-high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the Equality Act is passed.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), chief sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, also signaled through a spokesperson work continues on the legislation, refusing to give up on expectations the legislation would soon become law.
“Sen. Merkley and his staff are in active discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to get this done,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that we expect to become law.”
A spokesperson Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had promised to force a vote on the Equality Act in the Senate on the day the U.S. House approved it earlier this year, pointed to a March 25 “Dear Colleague” letter in which he identified the Equality Act as one of several bills he’d bring up for a vote.
Despite any assurances, the hold up on the bill is apparent. Although the U.S. House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even reported out the bill yet to the floor in the aftermath of the first-ever Senate hearing on the bill in March. A Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic aide, however, disputed that inaction as evidence the Equality Act is dead in its tracks: “Bipartisan efforts on a path forward are ongoing.”
Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for inaction on the Equality Act, but with Manchin withholding his support for the legislation they can’t even count on the entirety of their caucus to vote “yes” if it came to the floor. Progressives continue to advocate an end to the filibuster to advance legislation Biden has promised as part of his agenda, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to advance legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to win approval in the Senate with a 50-50 party split.
The office of Manchin, who has previously said he couldn’t support the Equality Act over concerns about public schools having to implement the transgender protections applying to sports and bathrooms, hasn’t responded to multiple requests this year from the Blade on the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article.
Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the Equality Act this year after having signed onto the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson talks are still happening across the aisle despite the appearances the legislation is dead.
“There continues to be bipartisan support for passing a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form, it cannot pass. That’s why there are ongoing discussions among senators and stakeholders about a path forward.”
Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have railroaded the debate by making the Equality Act about an end to women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and danger to women in sex-segregated places like bathrooms and prisons. That doesn’t even get into resolving the issue on drawing the line between civil rights for LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be litigated in the courts as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day now to issue a ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia to determine if foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples over religious objections.
For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of the Equality Act may be most keenly felt.
Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, disputed any notion the Equality Act is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive.”
“We remain optimistic despite misinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our movement partners are still working fruitfully on the Equality Act with senators. In fact, we are gaining momentum with all the field organizing we’re doing, like phone banking constituents to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever gets through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote during this Congress, and we are hopeful we can win.”
But one Democratic source said calls to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, have has outnumbered calls in favor of it by a substantial margin, with a particular emphasis on Manchin.
No stories are present in the media about same-sex couples being kicked out of a restaurant for holding hands or transgender people for using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 states thanks to the patchwork of civil rights laws throughout the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.
Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the American Unity Fund, which has bolstered the Republican-led Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act, said he continues to believe the votes are present for a compromise form of the bill.
“I know for a fact there is a supermajority level of support in the Senate for a version of the Equality Act that is fully protective of both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in getting something done this Congress.”
Deaton, however, didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on what evidence exists of agreeing on this compromise.
Biden has already missed the goal he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. Although Biden renewed his call to pass the legislation in his speech to Congress last month, as things stand now that appears to be a goal he won’t realize for the remainder of this Congress.
Nor has the Biden administration made the Equality Act an issue for top officials within the administration as it pushes for an infrastructure package as a top priority. One Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, legislative affairs director for the White House, delegated work on the Equality Act to a deputy as opposed to handling it herself.
To be sure, Biden has demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the fullest extent possible and dismantling former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ appointments with the confirmation of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.
A White House spokesperson insisted Biden’s team across the board remains committed to the Equality Act, pointing to his remarks to Congress.
“President Biden has urged Congress to get the Equality Act to his desk so he can sign it into law and provide long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The White House and its entire legislative team remains in ongoing and close coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure we are working across the aisle to push the Equality Act forward.”
But at least in the near-term, that progress will fall short of fulfilling the promise of updating federal civil rights law with the Equality Act, which will mean LGBTQ people won’t be able to rely on those protections when faced with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
D.C. bill to ban LGBTQ panic defense delayed by Capitol security
Delivery of bill to Congress was held up due to protocols related to Jan. 6 riots
A bill approved unanimously last December by the D.C. Council to ban the so-called LGBTQ panic defense has been delayed from taking effect as a city law because the fence installed around the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 insurrection prevented the law from being delivered to Congress.
According to Eric Salmi, communications director for D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who guided the bill through the Council’s legislative process, all bills approved by the Council and signed by the D.C. mayor must be hand-delivered to Congress for a required congressional review.
“What happened was when the Capitol fence went up after the January insurrection, it created an issue where we physically could not deliver laws to Congress per the congressional review period,” Salmi told the Washington Blade.
Among the bills that could not immediately be delivered to Congress was the Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of 2020, which was approved by the Council on a second and final vote on Dec. 15.
Between the time the bill was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser and published in the D.C. Register under procedural requirements for all bills, it was not ready to be transmitted to Congress until Feb. 16, the Council’s legislative record for the bill shows.
Salmi said the impasse in delivering the bill to Congress due to the security fence prevented the bill from reaching Congress on that date and prevented the mandatory 60-day congressional review period for this bill from beginning at that time. He noted that most bills require a 30 legislative day review by Congress.
But the Evangelista-Hunter bill, named after a transgender woman and a gay man who died in violent attacks by perpetrators who attempted to use the trans and gay panic defense, includes a law enforcement related provision that under the city’s Home Rule Charter passed by Congress in the early 1970s requires a 60-day congressional review.
“There is a chance it goes into effect any day now, just given the timeline is close to being up,” Salmi said on Tuesday. “I don’t know the exact date it was delivered, but I do know the countdown is on,” said Salmi, who added, “I would expect any day now it should go into effect and there’s nothing stopping it other than an insurrection in January.”
If the delivery to Congress had not been delayed, the D.C. Council’s legislative office estimated the congressional review would have been completed by May 12.
A congressional source who spoke on condition of being identified only as a senior Democratic aide, said the holdup of D.C. bills because of the Capitol fence has been corrected.
“The House found an immediate workaround, when this issue first arose after the Jan. 6 insurrection,” the aide said.
“This is yet another reason why D.C. Council bills should not be subject to a congressional review period and why we need to grant D.C. statehood,” the aide said.
The aide added that while no disapproval resolution had been introduced in Congress to overturn the D.C. Evangelista-Hunter bill, House Democrats would have defeated such a resolution.
“House Democrats support D.C. home rule, statehood, and LGBTQ rights,” said the aide.
LGBTQ rights advocates have argued that a ban on using a gay or transgender panic defense in criminal trials is needed to prevent defense attorneys from inappropriately asking juries to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression is to blame for a defendant’s criminal act, including murder.
Some attorneys have argued that their clients “panicked” after discovering the person against whom they committed a violent crime was gay or transgender, prompting them to act in a way they believed to be a form of self-defense.
In addition to its provision banning the LGBTQ panic defense, the Evangelista-Hunter bill includes a separate provision that strengthens the city’s existing hate crimes law by clarifying that hatred need not be the sole motivating factor for an underlying crime such as assault, murder, or threats to be prosecuted as a hate crime.
LGBTQ supportive prosecutors have said the clarification was needed because it is often difficult to prove to a jury that hatred is the only motive behind a violent crime. The prosecutors noted that juries have found defendants not guilty of committing a hate crime on grounds that they believed other motives were involved in a particular crime after defense lawyers argued that the law required “hate” to be the only motive in order to find someone guilty of a hate crime.
Salmi noted that while the hate crime clarification and panic defense prohibition provisions of the Evangelista-Hunter bill will become law as soon as the congressional review is completed, yet another provision in the bill will not become law after the congressional review because there are insufficient funds in the D.C. budget to cover the costs of implementing the provision.
The provision gives the D.C. Office of Human Rights and the Office of the D.C. Attorney General authority to investigate hate related discrimination at places of public accommodation. Salmi said the provision expands protections against discrimination to include web-based retailers or online delivery services that are not physically located in D.C.
“That is subject to appropriations,” Salmi said. “And until it is funded in the upcoming budget it cannot be legally enforced.”
He said that at Council member Allen’s request, the Council added language to the bill that ensures that all other provisions of the legislation that do not require additional funding – including the ban on use of the LGBTQ panic defense and the provision clarifying that hatred doesn’t have to be the sole motive for a hate crime – will take effect as soon as the congressional approval process is completed.
D.C. man charged with 2020 anti-gay death threat rearrested
Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011
A D.C. man arrested in August 2020 for allegedly threatening to kill a gay man outside the victim’s apartment in the city’s Adams Morgan neighborhood and who was released while awaiting trial was arrested again two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill another man in an unrelated incident.
D.C. Superior Court records show that Jalal Malki, who was 37 at the time of his 2020 arrest on a charge of bias-related attempts to do bodily harm against the gay man, was charged on May 4, 2021 with unlawful entry, simple assault, threats to kidnap and injure a person, and attempted possession of a prohibited weapon against the owner of a vacant house at 4412 Georgia Ave., N.W.
Court charging documents state that Malki was allegedly staying at the house without permission as a squatter. An arrest affidavit filed in court by D.C. police says Malki allegedly threatened to kill the man who owns the house shortly after the man arrived at the house while Malki was inside.
According to the affidavit, Malki walked up to the owner of the house while the owner was sitting in his car after having called police and told him, “If you come back here, I’m going to kill you.” While making that threat Malki displayed what appeared to be a gun in his waistband, but which was later found to be a toy gun, the affidavit says.
Malki then walked back inside the house minutes before police arrived and arrested him. Court records show that similar to the court proceedings following his 2020 arrest for threatening the gay man, a judge in the latest case ordered Malki released while awaiting trial. In both cases, the judge ordered him to stay away from the two men he allegedly threatened to kill.
An arrest affidavit filed by D.C. police in the 2020 case states that Malki allegedly made the threats inside an apartment building where the victim lived on the 2300 block of Champlain Street, N.W. It says Malki was living in a nearby building but often visited the building where the victim lived.
“Victim 1 continued to state during an interview that it was not the first time that Defendant 1 had made threats to him, but this time Defendant 1 stated that if he caught him outside, he would ‘fucking kill him.’” the affidavit says. It quotes the victim as saying during this time Malki repeatedly called the victim a “fucking faggot.”
The affidavit, prepared by the arresting officers, says that after the officers arrested Malki and were leading him to a police transport vehicle to be booked for the arrest, he expressed an “excited utterance” that he was “in disbelief that officers sided with the ‘fucking faggot.’”
Court records show that Malki is scheduled to appear in court on June 4 for a status hearing for both the 2020 arrest and the arrest two weeks ago for allegedly threatening to kill the owner of the house in which police say he was illegally squatting.
Superior Court records show that Malki had been arrested three times between 2011 and 2015 in cases unrelated to the 2021 and 2020 cases for allegedly also making threats of violence against people. Two of the cases appear to be LGBTQ related, but prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not list the cases as hate crimes.
In the first of the three cases, filed in July 2011, Malki allegedly shoved a man inside Dupont Circle and threatened to kill him after asking the man why he was wearing a purple shirt.
“Victim 1 believes the assault occurred because Suspect 1 believes Victim 1 is a homosexual,” the police arrest affidavit says.
Court records show prosecutors charged Malki with simple assault and threats to do bodily harm in the case. But the court records show that on Sept. 13, 2011, D.C. Superior Court Judge Stephen F. Eilperin found Malki not guilty on both charges following a non-jury trial.
The online court records do not state why the judge rendered a not guilty verdict. With the courthouse currently closed to the public and the press due to COVID-related restrictions, the Washington Blade couldn’t immediately obtain the records to determine the judge’s reason for the verdict.
In the second case, court records show Malki was arrested by D.C. police outside the Townhouse Tavern bar and restaurant at 1637 R St., N.W. on Nov. 7, 2012 for allegedly threatening one or more people with a knife after employees ordered Malki to leave the establishment for “disorderly behavior.”
At the time, the Townhouse Tavern was located next door to the gay nightclub Cobalt, which before going out of business two years ago, was located at the corner of 17th and R Streets, N.W.
The police arrest affidavit in the case says Malki allegedly pointed a knife in a threatening way at two of the tavern’s employees who blocked his path when he attempted to re-enter the tavern. The affidavit says he was initially charged by D.C. police with assault with a dangerous weapon – knife. Court records, however, show that prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office lowered the charges to two counts of simple assault. The records show that on Jan. 15, 2013, Malki pleaded guilty to the two charges as part of a plea bargain arrangement.
The records show that Judge Marissa Demeo on that same day issued a sentence of 30 days for each of the two charges but suspended all 30 days for both counts. She then sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for both charges and ordered that he undergo alcohol and drug testing and undergo treatment if appropriate.
In the third case prior to the 2020 and 2021 cases, court records show Malki was arrested outside the Cobalt gay nightclub on March 14, 2015 on multiple counts of simple assault, attempted assault with a dangerous weapon – knife, possession of a prohibited weapon – knife, and unlawful entry.
The arrest affidavit says an altercation started on the sidewalk outside the bar when for unknown reasons, Malki grabbed a female customer who was outside smoking and attempted to pull her toward him. When her female friend came to her aid, Malki allegedly got “aggressive” by threatening the woman and “removed what appeared to be a knife from an unknown location” and pointed it at the woman’s friend in a threatening way, the affidavit says.
It says a Cobalt employee minutes later ordered Malki to leave the area and he appeared to do so. But others noticed that he walked toward another entrance door to Cobalt and attempted to enter the establishment knowing he had been ordered not to return because of previous problems with his behavior, the affidavit says. When he attempted to push away another employee to force his way into Cobalt, Malki fell to the ground during a scuffle and other employees held him on the ground while someone else called D.C. police.
Court records show that similar to all of Malki’s arrests, a judge released him while awaiting trial and ordered him to stay away from Cobalt and all of those he was charged with threatening and assaulting.
The records show that on Sept. 18, 2015, Malki agreed to a plea bargain offer by prosecutors in which all except two of the charges – attempted possession of a prohibited weapon and simple assault – were dropped. Judge Alfred S. Irving Jr. on Oct. 2, 2015 sentenced Malki to 60 days of incarnation for each of the two charges but suspended all but five days, which he allowed Malki to serve on weekends, the court records show.
The judge ordered that the two five-day jail terms could be served concurrently, meaning just five days total would be served, according to court records. The records also show that Judge Irving sentenced Malki to one year of supervised probation for each of the two counts and ordered that he enter an alcohol treatment program and stay away from Cobalt.
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