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Gay men arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs on cruise ship

Reports say both work for U.S. gov’t contractors; ship part of gay cruise



Peter Melendez (left) and Robert Koehler were arrested Sunday. (Photos courtesy Miami Police Department)

A tip from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security enabled Miami police on Sunday, Feb. 3, to arrest two D.C. gay men as they allegedly attempted to smuggle in their luggage illegal drugs on board a cruise ship in the port of Miami, according to a police arrest affidavit filed in court.

The affidavit says a DHS special agent informed police that DHS intercepted an email exchange between D.C. residents and roommates Peter Melendez, 36, and Robert Koehler, 27, in which the two men allegedly conspired to smuggle drugs on board the cruise ship with the intent to distribute them to passengers.

Police charging documents show the two men are residents of a house on the 700 block of Harvard St., N.W. in the District’s Columbia Heights neighborhood. City property records show that Melendez owns the house.

The documents show Melendez was charged with conspiracy to traffic in illegal drugs and trafficking illegal drugs. Koehler was charged with trafficking illegal drugs.

The charging documents show the two men were initially held without bond in the Miami detention center with a notation dated Feb. 3 stating “NO BOND” – “DO NOT RELEASE.”

A clerk with the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court told the Blade on Wednesday that both men were released on bond the next day on Feb. 4. Bond for Melendez was set at $7,500 and Koehler’s bond was set at $30,000, the clerk said. Both men are scheduled to appear for an arraignment on March 5, court records show.

According to the arrest affidavit, “co-defendant Melendez is a current contract employee for the U.S. government.” It says “several pages” of emails exchanged between Melendez and Koehler in which they planned to distribute drugs on the ship were intercepted by DHS through Melendez’s “government computer.”

It says that during a routine K-9 search of passengers at the port prior to passengers boarding their cruise ship both Melendez and Koehler’s luggage “alerted” positive for narcotics. It says a further search by Custom Border Protection (CBC) officers found various quantities of various controlled substances in each of the men’s luggage.

Among the findings in both their luggage were approximately 27 grams of suspected MDMA, known as ecstasy; 18 grams of Ketamine; and 246 grams of suspected GHB. Also found in Melendez’s luggage were five grams of Adderall, a prescription amphetamine; and seven grams of Viagra, the arrest affidavit says.

The police charging documents and the arrest affidavit don’t identify the cruise ship by name. But at least two news media outlets – The Chesapeake Today, which covers crime related stories, and the British tabloid the Daily Mail – reported they learned from police the ship was the Royal Caribbean line’s Allure of the Seas, which was embarking on an all-gay, seven-day cruise to the Bahamas and Mexico.

The website of the company that organizes Atlantis gay cruises, which arranges LGBT cruises on large cruise ships, promoted the cruise on which Melendez and Koehler allegedly conspired to sell drugs as “the world’s largest all-gay cruise” which was to include “5,400 guys from over 60 different nations.”

Neither Melendez nor Koehler or their attorney identified in court papers as Kevin Gardiner could immediately be reached for comment.

On his Facebook page Melendez says he has worked since 2009 as a “jack of all trades” at the U.S. Pentagon.

People who know him told the Blade he competed in and won in D.C.’s annual Miss Adams Morgan drag pageant in 2016 or 2017.

The Miami Herald reported that Koehler also works in D.C. as a federal government contractor, but that designation was not disclosed in preliminary court documents or the arrest affidavit.

The Atlantis cruise, which Melendez and Koehler were attempting to board, is known to attract the gay circuit party crowd that has a reputation for recreational drug use among some of its adherents.

“It’s important for people to know that the circuit scene is tight knit, looks after one another, cares for each other and simply chooses to party in a different way than the drinking crowd,” said D.C. gay activist Lane Hudson. “It would be nice if the law allowed for this, but for now, it doesn’t. That means that situations like this sometimes occur,” he said.

“I’ve known Peter for 7-8 years and he’s always been a wonderful member of our community,” said Hudson. “He is loving, caring, well-liked and one heck of a drag queen. I hope he comes out of the other side of this in a good way. He certainly wasn’t out to harm anyone.”

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Virginia Senate subcommittee tables anti-Trans student athlete bill

SB 20, which would have exposed school districts to costly lawsuits for failing to protect trans students, was defeated in subcommittee



Virginia State Senate (Photo Credit; Commonwealth of Virginia government)

RICHMOND – A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Thursday tabled a bill that would have banned transgender students from joining school sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

Senate Bill 766, which state Sen. Jennifer Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach) introduced on earlier this month, would have required “each elementary or secondary school or a private school that competes in sponsored athletic events against such public schools to designate athletic teams, whether a school athletic team or an intramural team sponsored by such school, based on biological sex as follows: (i) ‘males,’ ‘men,’ or ‘boys’; (ii) ‘females,’ ‘women,’ or ‘girls’; or (iii) ‘coed’ or ‘mixed.’”

“SB 766 (trans sports ban) was passed by indefinitely (it died!) after a long line of speakers testified against it, affirming trans students’ rights to participate in sports just like their cisgender peers,” tweeted the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia after the vote. “Trans students belong in sports. Period.”

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin during his campaign said he does not support allowing trans children to play on sports teams that are consistent with their gender identity.

The General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began on Jan. 12 with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Democrats still control the Senate by a 21-19 margin.

A bill that would have eliminated the requirement that school districts implement the Virginia Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines died in a Senate subcommittee on Thursday. The Senate General Laws and Technology on Thursday also tabled a religious freedom measure that would have undermined Virginia’s LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination law.

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Arizona Republicans introduce ‘no promo homo’ bill in 2022 session

“I’m extremely disappointed with the Arizona Republicans who continue to perpetuate homophobia and transphobia”



Arizona Democratic State Rep. Daniel Hernandez is defending LGBTQ+ rights (Photo Courtesy of Rep. Hernandez)

PHOENIX – State Representative Jake Hoffman, (R-12), during a state House Education Committee meeting this week told fellow lawmakers that certain materials he discovered in schools is a foundational reason the committee should pass House Bill 2495

“This one is a teenager masturbating. Here’s another teenager masturbating. Here’s two teenagers engaged in sex,” said Hoffman, presenting what he alleged are examples of what was available to students although he admitted that the materials weren’t in all schools. “There is nothing more sacred than the innocence of a child,” said Hoffman who co-sponsored the bill.

The bill defines ‘sexually explicit materials’ as “Textual, visual or audio materials or materials accessed via any other medium” that depict any of the following matters:






The bill’s definition of homosexuality as ‘sexual conduct’ has drawn sharp criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates including members of the Arizona Legislative LGBTQ Caucus.

Democratic State Rep. Daniel Hernandez accused Hoffman and other Republicans pushing for the bill’s passage as engaging in a campaign to turn back LGBTQ+ progress in the state to an earlier era under a law colloquially referred to as the ‘no promo homo,’ which banned the state’s schools from acknowledging or ‘promoting’ a so-called ‘homosexual lifestyle.’

“What this bill does is once and again try and erase the LGBTQ community from Arizona public schools, under the guise of protecting children,” said Hernandez, during the meeting.

“It’s not the mere of status of being a homosexual, it is the act of homosexuality, so the act of sexual intercourse between two people of the same gender. That is a completely different thing than you represented it to be,” Hoffman retorted.

In an email to the Blade Hernandez noted, “Republicans in the legislature are pushing legislation to effectively ban sex education in Arizona schools and roll back the clock. Even mentioning the LGBTQ+ community will be against the law. As someone who knows what it’s like to grow up under an antiquated law that keeps the LGBTQ community from being seen in the classroom, I can tell you this makes our kids less safe.”

Hernandez, who is campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Congress to represent the Second Congressional District, wrote in an email to supporters; “I’m extremely disappointed with the Arizona Republicans who continue to perpetuate homophobia and transphobia. So, I’m speaking out against this shameful targeting of LGBTQ children and erasure of the LGBTQ community. Because as one of four gay members in our state’s legislature, I have a duty to stand up for the LGBTQ Arizonans who can’t be in our state’s Capitol to defend their own rights.”

In 2019, Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed Senate Bill 1346 which repealed the1991 law, which made it illegal for K-12 public schools to provide HIV prevention instruction that “promotes a homosexual lifestyle,” “portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle” or “suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”

The law had been the subject of a federal lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

New York blogger Joe Jervis reported that Hoffman has been in the national news this week as he is one of Arizona’s fake electors. In 2020 he was banned by Twitter for running a paid teenage pro-Trump troll farm with Charlie Kirk.

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Georgia school official says gay art is same as Nazi flag

There are ongoing complaints that this current administration has been discriminatory against women, LGBTQ people & English language learners



Courtesy of a Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary parent

ATHENS, Ga. – A display of student artwork at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School in Athens this past week created a controversy, when a poster that was hung in the collection by a faculty member for a student that had rainbow colors and the words; “Gay is OK,” was taken down by an school administrator who labeled it comparable to exhibition of a Nazi flag.

Atlanta’s NBC affiliate WXIA-TV 11 reported that some parents whose children attend Oglethorpe said they are concerned about how this situation and others have been handled.

“There are ongoing complaints about this current administration has been discriminatory against women, being discriminatory against LGBTQ people, being discriminatory against English language learners or emerging bilinguals, emerging multilingual and Spanish speakers. So we have seen a pattern of inequity at our school and we have been asking for support at this point for years,” said Jemelleh Coes, a parent and professor at the University of Georgia. 

WXIA-TV 11 heard from staff and faculty at the school expressed their disagreement with the characterization of Oglethorpe. A current teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, told the station: 

On behalf of a majority of the staff at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School, we are disheartened that these words and actions have happened in our school building during this time. This does not represent why we chose this profession, and it does not represent the feelings, beliefs, values, and attributes our amazing school family has within these four walls. We are disheartened that there has been no action taken by CCSD or our building administration to rectify the divide that has been caused. We will continue to seek resolution and promote a community of love, acceptance, and tolerance within our building and community. 

Parents want action.

The Clarke County School District released a statement this week:

January 25, 2022

Dear Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary Community, 

I write this letter to acknowledge a situation at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary that has caused a great deal of anger and frustration in our community.

It has been alleged that a piece of student artwork was compared to Nazi symbolism. We have investigated the situation and are working to address the issues with all parties involved. To be clear, we condemn this comparison and discrimination in all its forms. 

The Clarke County School District embraces diversity and inclusion for all students and staff. We stand with our LGBTQIA+ community and are dedicated to proving our commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

To that end, we will continue having sensitive and appropriate conversations with our school communities.


Brannon Gaskins
Acting Superintendent

Athens Pride weighed in on their social media accounts raising awareness on the issue and then asking people to donate to help LGBTQ people in need. 

Athens Pride is appalled to hear of the actions that transpired at a local elementary school. Our organization is committed to providing resources and support to LGBTQ+ students, parents, and community members- especially now. We are in contact with all parties involved, who at this time request privacy. We will keep the community updated on further information as it becomes available. We are reminded today that our school, city, and people have a lot of work to do to create true safe spaces for our children. Homophobia, Anti-semitism, and all forms of hate have should have no home here in Athens – especially in our public schools.”

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