Gays join fray in video store flap 02/06/98
GLAA issues statement on Dupont Circle liquor license controversy
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC has a long history of support for gay businesses and consumers. We have consistently worked to help businesses that are unfairly attacked by government actions as well as groups and individuals that oppose businesses out of anti-gay animus.
For some examples of our advocacy in defense of gay consumers and businesses, please visit our relevant project page on our website at: http://www.glaa.org/projects/regulate.html.
GLAA has not previously commented on the JR's expansion because it has been outside of our purview. Disputes over liquor licenses are many and varied. They are not limited to the Dupont neighborhood or to DC. There are decent gay folks on both sides of the JR's fight, as on the issue of liquor licenses generally. It is therefore not a gay issue as most activists define the term otherwise any and every issue involving any gay person would be a gay issue.
The history of opposition to expansion of liquor licenses in Dupont and in other DC neighborhoods is only one indication that JR's is only the latest recipient of opposition by neighborhood groups based on quality-of-life issues, and not on the basis of their catering to gay clientele per se.
GLAA does not take positions on neighborhood, zoning or other land-use issues. GLAA only seeks to have gay businesses, organizations and people treated equally and fairly.
Unfortunately, the environment around the expansion of JR's has been poisoned by irresponsible ad hominem attacks, divisive tactics and disregard for the opinions and needs of the community and local businesses. Both the NationalGayLobby.org and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association have acted inappropriately and made a negotiated settlement satisfactory to all sides nearly impossible.
Responsible advocacy, whether local or national, requires more than just a website and attacks against people it requires building relationships, doing one's homework, making constructive efforts, and cooperating with others rather than acting alone and spewing venom indiscriminately.
GLAA has been hearing from both gay and non-gay (but gay-friendly) neighbors that they are troubled and offended by NGL.org's tactics. By being so reckless in their attacks, accusations, and threats, they are doing more harm than good to the interests of JR's. Eric Little of JR's has issued a public statement disassociating JR's from NGL.org and their advocacy.
DCCA has recently acted appropriately to remove a board member who made inflammatory remarks and accusations that are beyond the pale. While this is a positive step forward it does expose much of the ugliness that has defined the debate. More positive steps all around are needed.
GLAA has consulted with Mr. Little and others, and will continue to do so, in search of constructive steps to help calm the situation and avoid further divisions within our community. We recognize that there are strong feelings in this dispute, but we urge all concerned to conduct their advocacy in a responsible manner. Let us keep in mind that we will continue to be neighbors, and that a poisoned atmosphere will only harm everyone.
Bob Summersgill, President
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC