Connect with us

homepage news

2020 hopefuls gather for LGBT forum, but Biden has tense moment

Buttigieg, Booker, Warren at peak performance

Published

on

Joe Biden, gay news, Washington Blade, Democratic Presidential candidates
Former Vice President Joe Biden (Screen capture via YouTube)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Democratic presidential hopefuls came together Friday night at an LGBT candidate forum to lay out their vision for LGBT rights, but the evening yielded to a tense moment when Joseph Biden was defensive on stage about blemishes on his record.

Lyz Lenz, a columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette brought up Biden’s past votes in the 1990s for the crime bill, a military spending bill that instituted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage.

When Lenz lumped that together with contemporaneous remarks from Biden in which he called Vice President Mike Pence, who’s notorious for his anti-LGBT record, a “decent guy,” the audience booed.

“You’re a lovely person,” Biden replied, generating applause from the audience that was hard to read.

“Just asking the questions people want to know,” Lenz said, which in turn generated a roar of applause.

Asked by Lenz what assurances he could make he wouldn’t compromise on LGBT rights, Biden made the (untrue) assertion in the wake of that record he “didn’t have to go through any period of adjustment.”

“I came out on ‘Meet the Press’ before anyone else did nationally,” Biden said. “It was honestly, No. 1, and the reason I did, I had to evolve.”

Biden was also indignant about criticism about calling Pence “decent,” saying it’s just a way to speak “when you try to get things.” Biden added he doesn’t think Trump is decent, but would still call him president.

“I think it’s just an issue because he has not been decent to a whole swath of Americans,” Lenz responded to audience applause.

In terms of promoting LGBT rights, Biden laid out a plan that included the Equality Act, undoing the Trump administration’s reversal of Obama’s LGBT administrative actions and a ban on “the conversion therapy, nationally.”

The LGBT candidate forum at Coe College’s Sinclair Auditorium marked the first time in the 2020 election Democratic candidates gathered for an event dedicated to LGBT issues and the first time for such an event in 11 years, when the 2008 candidates addressed LGBT issues in a similar forum.

Ten of the Democratic candidates made an appearance during the LGBT forum — which was orchestrated by the LGBT media watchdog GLAAD — to lay out their vision for LGBT rights, but Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg were at their peak performance.

Booker said after years of the Trump administration and its anti-LGBT policies, the time has come for a president who will bring a comprehensive approach to bettering the lives of marginalized people, including the LGBT community.

“It’s about time that we have a woke president on these issues and every day is using their platforms to inspire and ignite justice, compassion, a more courageous empathy, a revival of civic grace so that everyone for the equal dignity and equal citizenship that we all have,” Booker said.

Among the LGBT agenda items Booker said he plans is appointing a U.S. attorney general “who will fight to protect the rights and safety of LGBTQ Americans” and an education secretary who “actually was in public schools and will stand up and protect every single one of our children.”

Elizabeth Warren took the opportunity of her opening statement when asked about her plan on LGBT rights for her first 100 days to read the name of the transgender women who were killed so far this year.

“It’s time for a president of the United States of America to say their names,” Warren said. “Equality is far off for many people in this country, but the cost of inequality for trans people, particularly trans women of color has now reached a moment of crisis, and it is time for everyone in America to speak out on this issue.”

Warren also incorporated LGBT rights into her anti-corporatism messaging, saying Trump-appointed “corporate lawyers” have been appointed at a time it’s set to consider whether federal civil rights law as it stands prohibits anti-LGBT discrimination.

“I hope we don’t lose this case,” Warren said. “I will stay on top of this, but remember, we also have a Congress that we can hold accountable, and our Congress can decide that we all are equal in this country and that is the fight I am ready to lead.”

Further, Warren invoked a parable from the Bible to make a point about LGBT equality, a risky decision before an LGBT audience who may have felt harmed by religion.

Buttigieg, who had the distinction of being an openly gay candidate at the forum, emphasized the LGBT community has the unique distinction of being able to cut across wide swaths of groups in America.

“We have the power to reach into our own spirit, belonging to a part of America that also cuts across all other different categories,” Buttigieg said. “I can only assume we’re the only minority that exists in equal proportion across every ethnicity and family income.”

Zach Stafford, the editor-in-chief of The Advocate, asked Buttigieg a question about the Food & Drug Administration policy prohibiting men from donating blood if they’ve had sex with another man within the past year.

As a result of that policy, Stafford noted, Buttigieg would face discrimination as a gay man even as U.S. president.

Buttigieg recognized the gay blood ban continues and said its discriminatory impact affected him when he organized a blood drive as South Bend mayor.

“And it’s a great thing that we do,” Buttigieg said. “And I realized I can’t, I can’t be part of it. We still do it. It’s still a good thing. But it’s an example, one of the many examples of the exclusions that continue in this country.”

Questions about came up for candidates who have records against granting gender reassignment surgery for transgender inmates in prison.

When Lenz confront Kamala Harris about her litigation position as California attorney general representing the California Department of Corrections against the procedure for a transgender inmate, Harris said she defended the state, but also acted to correct the policy.

“When I learned about what they were doing, but behind the scenes I got them to change the policy, and I commit to you, that always in these systems, there are going to be these things that these agencies do and I will commit, as I always do, to deal with it,” Harris said.

Lenz also questioned Warren, who previously was against the surgery for inmates before reversing her position in 2017, asking her how to get others to evolve.

“The way I think about this, in America, equal means equal,” Warren said. “And that is true everywhere, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in marriage and it’s true in health care.”

While Lenz asked Harris to defend her record, she asked Warren how she can help others evolve, a distinction noticed online by media critics. To be fair, Warren signaled support for gender reassignment surgery for all inmates, a position Harris hasn’t articulated in so many words.

Other candidates weren’t as stellar in their delivery and seemed to take the opportunity of the audience to address other issues.

Tulsi Gabbard, who has come under criticism for comments in the 2000s disparaging LGBT rights activists, said she’d work to ban anti-LGBT discrimination in all areas of life, but didn’t exactly assuage concerns by making “the cost of war” a central point at an LGBT forum.

“There’s one issue that is central to all the rest, to our ability to serve all of these needs, and that issue is the cost of war,” Gabbard said. “I want to talk about this because not very many people do, but it is central for our ability to deliver and serve the needs of the America people.”

Gabbard said since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks the United States has spent $6 trillion “to go and pay for wasteful regime wars in other countries,” which she added cost the United States dearly in terms of treasury and blood.

The news item on LGBT issues that obtained the most attention during the forum was a recent Washington Post report Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Ben Carson disparagingly referred to transgender women as “big, hairy men” at a San Francisco facility.

Among the candidates referencing the news development was former Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julian Castro, who implemented a rule during the Obama administration assuring transgender people access to federally funded homeless shelters without fear of discrimination.

“What was reportedly said was disgusting,” Castro said. “We need a secretary of housing that can represent everybody and make sure that everybody is treated fairly. And if he can’t do that, he should step down as secretary of housing and urban development.”

Under Carson’s leadership, HUD is seeking to implement a rule change that would gut with the Obama-era non-discrimination rule for at homeless shelters with a religious exemption.

Buttigieg also condemned Carson for the remarks, pointing out an estimated 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT.

“Let me tell you, if anyone, let alone a Cabinet member in my administration spoke the way that the secretary of housing and urban development spoke yesterday about trans people, that would be their last day in federal service on my watch,” Buttigieg said.

Self-help guru Marianne Williamson also seized Carson’s comments after lamenting ongoing discrimination against LGBT people.

“I’ll tell you something else, if I had a Cabinet secretary who made comments about LGBTQIA+ people…that person would be fired the next day,” Williamson said.

While on stage, Williamson faced tough questioning about her past as a self-help guru during the AIDS crisis, when she promoted the power of positive thinking to gay men dying of the disease, and was asked whether her views have changed.

“My thoughts haven’t changed over the years because there’s nothing in what I said that was anything to indicate anything such that if somebody had positive thoughts, they would [be cured of AIDS],” Williamson said. “I never said anything like that. There’s nothing in my books like that. There’s nothing in my experience.”

Making celebrity appearances at the event were Angelica Ross, a transgender actress on “Pose,” and Karamo Brown of “Queer Eye” on Netflix. (Brown’s appearance after defending former White House press secretary Sean Spicer and fellow “Dancing with the Stars” celebrity as a “good guy,” however, was criticized on social media.)

Continue Reading
Advertisement

homepage news

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

Defendant implicated in three anti-LGBTQ incidents since 2011

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

homepage news

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

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

homepage news

IDAHOBiT events to promote intersectionality, resilience, allyship

HRC president to participate in virtual panel in Canada

Published

on

(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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular