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2020 kicks off with slew of anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures

Legislation would prohibit care for trans youth, participation in sports

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South Dakota, Pierre, gay news, Washington Blade
The South Dakota Legislature is considering a bill to criminalize transition-related care for transgender youth. (Photo by Dk4hb; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The start of the new year means the start of state legislative sessions around the country — and the annual emergence of anti-LGBTQ legislation is right on cue.

Just two weeks into 2020, a slew of anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced throughout the country. But this year, the legislation is taking on new forms to specifically target transgender youth.

Many of the bills seek to criminalize transition-related care for transgender youth, while others — in the wake of controversy over transgender girls competing in schools, including a case in Connecticut the Department of Education has agreed to consider — would prohibit transgender youth from participating in sports.

Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT and HIV project, said in a conference call with reporters 2020 marks a “hostile” start for legislative sessions “not just in the number, but in the content of the bills and in the swiftness with which they were introduced.”

“Certainly, since 2016, we’ve seen a lot of bills across the country attacking trans people in particular, but there is a sort of level of intensity, both in the character and the volume, that we’re seeing that is pretty alarming this session,” Strangio said.

Bills that would criminalize transition-related care for transgender youth, including gender reassignment surgery, are now pending in South Dakota and Florida, Strangio said. The bills have penalties, Strangio said, for administering, prescribing and performing the treatment. 

“Obviously when the government is proposing wholesale bans on people being able to access medically accepted standards of care, that suggestion itself is dangerous for young people,” Strangio said.

Other bills in South Carolina and Missouri, Strangio said, wouldn’t institute criminal penalties, but would prohibit transition-related care for transgender youth. 

The bills, Strangio said, would “overnight lead to such significant physical and mental health crises that it’s hard to think of it as anything other than a bill that would genuinely cause the short-term death of trans young people.”

Legislation that would prohibit transgender youth from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity, Strangio said, has been introduced in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri (in the form of a proposed constitutional amendment), New Hampshire, Tennessee and Washington State.

The New Hampshire bill, Strangio said, only imposes restrictions on the women and girls side of sports, including “an invasive” requirement that in any dispute, young athletes would have to provide documentation of their hormone levels, chromosomes and reproductive organs.

But not all the anti-trans bills take on these new forms. Legislation has been introduced in Kentucky, Strangio said, that takes the form of a previously seen measure seeking to ban transgender kids from using school restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

Strangio cited widespread opposition to the measures. The bills against transition-related care for youth, Strangio said, are opposed by medical and psychological groups, and the bills against transgender youth in sports are opposed by women’s groups and athletic organizations.

S.D. anti-trans bill an imminent threat

One of the most advanced of these anti-trans bills is the legislation pending in South Dakota, House Bill 1057, that would criminalize providing transition-related care to transgender youth. A hearing, initially set for Friday, was rescheduled for the bill to take place Wednesday.

South Dakota State Rep. Fred Deutsch said in a statement to the conservative National Review the legislation, called the “Vulnerable Child Protection Act,” would ensure children are “protected from dangerous drugs and procedures.”

“The solution for children’s identification with the opposite sex isn’t to poison their bodies with mega-doses of the wrong hormones, to chemically or surgically castrate and sterilize them, or to remove healthy breasts and reproductive organs,” Deutsch is quoted as saying. “The solution is compassionate care, and that doesn’t include catastrophically and irreversibly altering their bodies.”

If enacted into law, a doctor who provided transition-related care, including gender reassignment surgery, to a minor would be guilty of a Class 4 felony, which could mean up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $30,000. As of now, the legislation has more than 40 co-sponsors.

Deutsch is quoted in the South Dakota-based Argus Leader that he began working on the bill nine months after he met with transgender people and heard “their experiences of being hurt by the transition process.”

According to the Endocrine Society, hormone therapy isn’t recommended for transgender youth and a team of professionals should manage treatment for youths.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, condemned the legislation in a statement as dangerous and contrary to medical standards.

“Doctors and other medical professionals, not politicians, should decide the appropriate medical care for transgender youth,” Keisling said. “This is one of the most extreme and dangerous pieces of legislation in the country and threatens doctors with prison simply for providing necessary health care.”

Strangio said the American Civil Liberties Union is planning to file a lawsuit should the legislation become law.

Other bills target adoption, health care

At the same time, legislation in state legislatures that would more broadly enable discrimination against LGBTQ people is reappearing.

Rose Saxe, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT and HIV project, counted in the conference call a total of 25 anti-LGBTQ bills, many of which would impose anti-LGBTQ restrictions on education and enable anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the name of religious freedom.

The most advanced is anti-LGBTQ adoption legislation in Tennessee headed to the governor’s desk that would enable taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse placement into LGBTQ homes over religious objections. Gov. Bill Lee is expected to sign the legislation. Similar anti-LGBTQ adoption bills, Saxe said, are pending in Missouri and West Virginia.

“These bills are incredibly damaging for young people,” Saxe said, “both for LGBTQ youth, who see the targeting and dehumanizing of the community, as well as foster youth and others in state care.” 

Bills in Alaska and Arizona, Saxe said, would institute “prohibitions on education about LGBTQ people” in school. Another bill in Arizona, Saxe said, would allow teachers to refuse to use the preferred pronouns for transgender students. 

In Indiana, Saxe said legislation is pending that would allow mental health counselors to refuse to treat patients, including LGBTQ people, based on religious beliefs. Legislation in Kentucky, she said, would institute a religious exemption for health care workers writ large to refuse care, including for LGBTQ patients.

“They impede on access to quality care,” Saxe said. “They put discrimination ahead of patients or children and they’re really not solving any problem, perhaps most egregiously.”

According to Equality Florida, the anti-trans legislation in the state is actually one of five anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in the state legislature. Others would undo pro-LGBTQ city ordinances, undo city ordinances prohibiting widely discredited conversion therapy and enable conversion therapy in those cities within the home.

“This is the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida Legislature in recent memory,” said Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida’s public policy director. “It runs the gamut from openly hostile legislation that would arrest and imprison doctors for providing medically necessary care, to legislation that would carelessly erase critical local LGBTQ protections.”

Asked by the Washington Blade whether the anti-LGBTQ bills across state legislatures, given their common nature and language, are coming from the same source, such as Alliance Defending Freedom, Strangio said he couldn’t say for certain, but named the anti-LGBTQ legal group as among their supporters.

“I agree the language is very similar, and I think some of these have been workshopped over several years,” Strangio said. “I think in terms of the groups that are advocating for the substance of the bills, I would say that it’s 100 percent ADF and the local family policy institutes.”

Bills prohibiting transition-related care for transgender youth, Strangio said, are “likely” being pushed in response to a recent custody dispute between two parents in Texas over a child who’s apparently transgender.

Matt Sharp, state government relations national director for Alliance Defending Freedom, responded with a comment expressing general support for the anti-trans bills when asked by the Blade via email if the legal firm had a hand in writing the legislation.

“Girls deserve to compete on a level playing field,” Sharp said. “Forcing female athletes to compete against biological males isn’t fair and destroys their athletic opportunities. Likewise, every child deserves a childhood that allows them to experience puberty and other natural changes that shape who they will become.”

Could state bills lead to lawsuits in favor of LGBTQ rights?

Seeing a remarkable silver lining to the legislation in a question on the conference call was YouTube personality Matt Baume, who pointed out the passage of constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage in 2004 led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling for same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015.

Could a similar situation follow, Baume asked, in which enactment by the state legislatures of these anti-LGBTQ bills would lead to litigation that would have the opposite effect: A Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing transgender rights nationwide?

Saxe, in response, drew a distinction between the two, pointing out the constitutional amendments were generally passed at the ballot, not by state legislatures.

“I think it’s hard to know whether of any of these, if they pass, will end up going to the Supreme Court,” Saxe said. “I think…the health care restrictions and some of the other bills are so egregious that it seems to hard to imagine letting them stand.”

However, Saxe said the potential of costly litigation may be key in preventing these state legislatures from approving these anti-LGBT bills in the first place.

The better comparison, Strangio said, would be 2016, when there was a proliferation of anti-trans bathroom bills, including House Bill 2 in North Carolina, and religious freedom legislation, such as House Bill 1523 in Mississippi.

Strangio warned that could mean litigation wouldn’t be successful. Although both laws were subject to lawsuits, the Mississippi law is still on the books, and HB2 ended up being repealed and replaced with a weaker law that is still on the books in North Carolina.

David Flugman, a partner with the New York-based law firm Selendy & Gay PLLC who has focused on LGBTQ rights, said in a statement bills prohibiting transition-related care for transgender youth are “a pernicious attempt to target a disfavored group” and constitutionally suspect.

“They raise serious constitutional concerns surrounding these minors’ rights to control their own bodies and their ability, with their parents’ consent, to obtain critical medical treatment,” Flugman said. “The bills also represent a heavy-handed intrusion by the state into the medical decisions of parents and children in consultation with medical professionals. I think we can expect to see lawsuits filed.”

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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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