Connect with us

homepage news

Coronavirus upends campaign season as D.C. primary nears

Gay candidate competing in hotly contested Ward 2 Council race

Published

on

DC election, gay news, Washington Blade
John Fanning and Patrick Kennedy have each been endorsed by prominent members of the LGBTQ community for the Ward 2 Council seat. (Photos courtesy of the campaigns)

Nearly all of the 25 candidates running in D.C.’s June 2 Democratic primary for five D.C. Council seats and three congressional seats have expressed strong support for LGBTQ rights, prompting activists to predict that LGBTQ voters will likely choose a candidate to vote for based on non-LGBTQ issues.

Early voting for the primary began on May 22 and was scheduled to continue each day except Memorial Day on May 25 at 20 voting centers located throughout the city from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The 20 voting centers were scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on June 2. The location of the voting centers can be found at dcboe.org.

Board of Elections officials have said the deadline for applying online or by phone for an absentee mail-in ballot was May 26.

Most political observers say the hotly contested Ward 2 D.C. Council race is the wildcard in a city primary election in which the incumbents usually win. With no incumbent in the Ward 2 race and in the midst of the coronavirus shutdowns making it impossible for candidates to hold in-person events or campaign outdoors, no one is predicting who the winner will be in that contest.

Similar to nearly all D.C. elections, the winners in the Democratic primary are usually the winners in the November general election in a city with the overwhelming majority of voters being registered Democrats.

Some — but by no means all — LGBTQ activists have joined gay Ward 2 D.C. Council candidate John Fanning in urging their fellow LGBTQ compatriots to vote for Fanning as a means of returning an out LGBTQ person to the ranks of the 13-member City Council.

The Council has not had an LGBTQ member since January 2015 after the late gay Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) lost his re-election race in 2014 and gay Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) gave up his seat in an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2014.

Fanning’s supporters argue that Fanning, 57, a longtime Logan Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and a Ward 2 community services representative for several D.C. mayors is highly qualified to serve on the Council.

Other LGBTQ activists, however, are supporting rival Ward 2 candidate Patrick Kennedy, 28, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Foggy Bottom who has been endorsed by at least three other gay ANC members, a gay member of the D.C. State Board of Education, and by Casa Ruby founder and executive director Ruby Corado. Catania is also backing Kennedy.

Several of them have said Kennedy’s understanding and support for LGBTQ issues is exceptionally strong and while they too favor electing an LGBTQ person to the Council, at this particular time they say Kennedy is the best person for the job. Kennedy has also been endorsed by D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large).

Fanning supporters note that Fanning has been endorsed by former D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz, a longtime LGBTQ rights supporter, and by a number of prominent LGBT activists, including former Whitman-Walker Clinic Executive Director Cornelius Baker, former Whitman-Walker Board Chair Riley Temple, and longtime gay activists Paul Kuntzler, Jose Gutierrez, and Ernest Hopkins.

Fanning and Kennedy are among eight candidates competing in the Democratic primary for the Ward 2 Council seat that former D.C. Council member Jack Evans has held for 28 years. Evans resigned from the seat in January after all 12 of his Council colleagues said they planned to vote to expel Evans over allegations of ethics violations.

Evans has apologized for what he has called mistakes in judgment but insists he did not violate any laws. Citing his reputation as an expert in city financial and budget related matters, Evans has called on his former Ward 2 constituents – including LGBTQ constituents – to send him back to the Council to utilize his skills to help the city respond to the coronavirus crisis. LGBTQ activists, many of whom are not supporting Evans now, acknowledge that he has been among the Council’s strongest supporters on LGBTQ rights since he first won election to the Council.

The remaining candidates running in the Democratic primary for the Ward 2 seat have also expressed strong support for LGBTQ rights. They include Burleith ANC member Kishan Putta, 46; former Obama administration official Jordan Grossman, 34; Marine Corps veteran and Microsoft employee Daniel Hernandez, 32; former Assistant D.C. Attorney General Brooke Pinto, 27; and Kaiser Permanente business development executive Yilin Zhang, 32.

Pinto has been endorsed by the Washington Post and by current D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine. Grossman received endorsements from the Metro Washington Council of the AFL-CIO, the Washington Teachers Union, and D.C. Council member Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large). Putta has been endorsed by former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

Evans has been endorsed by D.C. nightlife advocate and Washington Blade columnist Mark Lee. Also backing Evans are longtime LGBTQ rights advocates John Ralls and Michael Ramirez. Ralls is a former chief of staff at Evans’s Council office.

All of the candidates except Evans and Hernandez are also running in a June 16 special election to fill the Ward 2 D.C. Council seat that became vacant when Evans resigned in January. The winner of the special election will hold the seat until Evans’s term would have ended on Jan. 1, 2021.

Also running in the special election is Republican Ward 2 Council candidate Katherine Venice, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary also scheduled for June 2. Venice has alienated many of the city’s GOP activists by denouncing President Donald Trump and pledging to work hard for his defeat in the November presidential election.

Venice received a +8 rating on LGBTQ issues from the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which praised her responses to its candidate questionnaire as being highly supportive and insightful on LGBTQ matters. She told the Washington Blade she would not accept an endorsement from the D.C. Log Cabin Republicans, the local LGBTQ GOP group, because Log Cabin has endorsed Trump’s re-election.

Three longtime LGBTQ rights supporters — D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), D.C. Council member Robert White (D-At-Large), and D.C. Shadow U.S. Sen. Paul Strauss (D) — are running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Also running unopposed is political newcomer Oye Owolewa (D), who’s running for the shadow U.S. House seat. All four have been endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest local GLBTQ political group.

The Stein Club did not make an endorsement in the Ward 2 Council race as well as in the Council races in Wards 4 and 8. None of the multiple candidates running for the three seats, including incumbents Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) and Tryon White (D-Ward 8), received a required 60 percent of the vote by Stein Club members needed for an endorsement.

In the Ward 4 race, Todd, a longtime supporter of LGBTQ rights who has been endorsed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, is being challenged in the primary by community activists Janeese Lewis George and Marlena Edwards. George, who identifies herself as a democratic socialist, is appealing to the ward’s liberal-progressive voters who George says agree with her assertion that Todd is a captive of business interests at the expense of working class residents.

Todd supporters say George’s far-left positions put her at odds with the majority of Ward 4 residents who recognize Todd’s role as a political moderate who is credited with providing excellent constituent services and with helping to boost the economic development in Ward 4.

George received a + 6.5 rating on LGBTQ issues by the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance compared to Todd, who received a +6 rating. Edwards received a +4.5 GLAA rating. GLAA rates candidates on a scale of +10, the highest possible rating, to -10, the lowest possible score indicating an anti-LGBTQ record or current positions.

Similar to other otherwise LGBT supportive candidates, GLAA said Todd and Edwards lost points for opposing decriminalization of sex work, a position that GLAA and other local LGBTQ organizations support.

Gay candidate wins key endorsements in Ward 7

In the Ward 7 D.C. Council race, incumbent Council member and former D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, a longtime LGBTQ rights supporter who received the Stein Club’s endorsement, is being challenged by five fellow Democrats. Among them is gay Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and community activist Anthony Lorenzo Green.

The others running against Gray in the primary include attorney and community activist Veda Rasheed; Army veteran and Fannie Mae manager Kelvin Brown; Ward 7 businesswoman Rebecca Morris; and community activist James Leroy Jennings.

GLAA assigned Gray a rating of +8, saying Gray has an excellent record on LGBTQ issues but lost points for his opposition to decriminalization of sex work. Green, who also has a record of support on LGBTQ issues, received a +4 rating after failing to return the GLAA questionnaire, according to a GLAA statement accompanying its ratings. GLAA says it has a policy of assigning a rating of “0” to candidates who don’t return the questionnaire if their record and positions on LGBTQ issues are unknown.

For that reason, GLAA assigned a “0” rating to Ward 7 candidates Rasheed, Morris, Jennings, and Brown after each of them failed to return the questionnaire and their record on LGBTQ issues was unknown to GLAA.

Green, Brown, and Rasheed joined Gray in participating in a May 11 online candidate forum organized by the Stein Club, and each of them expressed support for LGBTQ issues at the forum. Morris and Jennings did not participate in the forum.

Most political observers believe Gray is the strong favorite to win re-election in the June 2 primary. But some of the same observers say Green has made a strong showing in both his campaign fundraising and by a few significant endorsements he has received, including from the D.C. local chapter of the AFL-CIO, the Washington Teachers Union and the progressive group D.C. for Democracy.

In addition to the Stein Club endorsement, Gray has been endorsed by the Washington Post, the Sierra Club, and the local group Greater Greater Washington.

In the Ward 8 D.C. Council race, incumbent Council member Trayon White (D), who has a record of support for LGBTQ rights, is considered the favorite to win re-election. He is being challenged in the Democratic primary by three opponents, each of whom has expressed support for LGBTQ rights.

The challengers include Ward 8 attorney and community activist Yaida Ford, who received a +7 rating from GLAA compared to a +4.5 rating that GLAA gave to White. Also receiving a +4.5 GLAA rating is Ward 8 candidate Mike Austin. The remaining candidate, Stuart Anderson, received a +3 GLAA rating. Although each of the Ward 8 candidates, including White, expressed support for LGBTQ issues at the Stein Club’s May 11 virtual candidate forum, GLAA says in its ratings statement that all of the candidates except Ford did not provide sufficient substance to their answers to the 10 questions on the GLAA candidate questionnaire.

GLAA said Anderson lost points for expressing opposition on the questionnaire to a pending D.C. Council bill calling for outlawing the so-called LGBTQ panic defense in criminal trials. Attorneys have used the panic defense to excuse anti-LGBT violence on grounds that a perpetrator lost control of his or her emotions after learning the person they attacked was gay or transgender.

“Democratic candidate Yaida Ford agrees with GLAA on all issues and shows good substance in her questionnaire responses,” GLAA says in a statement accompanying its ratings. “She was legislative counsel for the Committee on Human Services under [former DC Council member] Jim Graham, and was his liaison to the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club,” GLAA says in its statement, which adds that Ford represents LGBTQ people in her law practice.

White, meanwhile, has been endorsed by the Washington Teachers Union, the Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the Sierra Club, and Jews for Justice.

Several independent candidates are running for some of the D.C. Council seats at play in the June 2 primary, but they will not be on the ballot until the November election. The Blade will be reporting on their campaigns in the coming weeks.

‘Presidential Preference’ receives little attention

With the distraction of the coronavirus epidemic and the presumptive nomination of former Vice President Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate for president, D.C.’s Presidential Preference Primary, also set for June 2, has received little attention in the media.

But when D.C. voters go to the polls or receive their mail-in ballots they will discover that Biden and three other Democratic presidential candidates who dropped out of the race and announced their support for Biden earlier this year are on the D.C. ballot. The others on the ballot are U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

The D.C. Board of Elections has said the decision by the three to drop out of the presidential race came too late to change the ballots, which were already prepared.

The name Donald J. Trump will be on the D.C. ballot for Republican voters in the June 2 Presidential Preference Primary.

Other Republican candidates along with D.C.’s Statehood Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates will be on the June 2 primary ballot. Following is a list of those candidates along with the GLAA rating they received:

At-Large D.C. Council:

Marya Pickering (R), GLAA rating, -3

Ann C. Wilcox (Statehood Green), GLAA rating +0.5

Joe Bishop-Henchman (Libertarian), GLAA rating 0.

Ward 2 D.C. Council:

Katherine Venice (R), GLAA rating, +8

Ward 4 D.C. Council:

Perry Redd (Statehood Green), GLAA rating 0

Ward 8 D.C. Council:

Nate Derenge (R), GLAA rating -2

Delegate to U.S. House:

Natale Lino Stracuzzi (Statehood Green), no GLAA rating

Ford Fischer (Libertarian)

U.S. Shadow Senator:

Eleanor Ory (Statehood Green), no GLAA rating;

U.S. Shadow Representative:

Joyce (Chestnut) Robinson-Paul (Statehood-Green), no GLAA rating

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

homepage news

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

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

homepage news

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

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
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular