Summersgill testifies on proposed ABC regs
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GLAA defends gay consumers and businesses

Summersgill testifies on proposed ABC regs,
urges removal of Section 905

Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013


Delivered before the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs

NOVEMBER 19, 2003

Chairman Ambrose, Committee members and fellow residents:

Good afternoon. My name is Bob Summersgill. I am the treasurer and immediate past president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA), the oldest continuously active gay and lesbian civil rights group in the country.

GLAA strongly objects to the inclusion of Section 905 in the proposed ABC regulations offered by the ABC Board.

As clearly stated by the ABC Board in their introduction, "The purpose of the proposed rules is to implement conforming regulations to carry out the provisions of D.C. Law 13-298, the Title 25, D.C. Code Enactment and Related Amendments Act of 2001, which took effect on May 3, 2001."

However, there is no section of the law which in any way relates to Section 905.


905.1 No holder of an alcoholic beverage license shall require or permit any entertainer, employee, customer, or other person to do any of the following on its premises:

(a) Perform acts of oral, anal, or vaginal sexual intercourse, masturbation, or bestiality; or

(b) Fondle the breasts, buttocks, anus, or genitals of any other person.

905.2 No holder of an alcoholic beverage license shall permit any person who engages in any of the acts prohibited by 905.1 to remain on the licensed premises.

In addition to the improper inclusion of this regulation over the Council's intent in enacting the law, this section is on its face unconstitutional in two ways.

First, most hotels in DC have liquor licenses for their in-house bars and restaurants. Each of these establishments would be required to prohibit any guests from performing any of the listed sexual acts even in their locked rooms. This is a clear violation of the constitutional right to privacy as unequivocally established earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas.

The ABC Board is attempting through Section 905 to re-criminalize sodomy and other completely legal and constitutionally protected activities. DC's community undertook a sustained campaign for 30 years to repeal the sodomy law led by Dr. Frank Kameny. This must not be reversed in this obviously unconstitutional section.

Second, most of our theaters also have liquor licenses. Plays and other live performances often call for the fondling of breasts or buttocks of themselves or other actors. These performances are strictly protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The very existence of this section creates an impermissibly chilling effect on theater and other live performances. By way of example, The Shakespeare Theater's Asides magazine for August includes a picture on page 14 of a man with his hand inside a woman's dress from Academy of Classical Acting's production of The White Devil at the Shakespeare Theater's studio. This is the very embodiment of fondling of the breasts in paragraph (b).

The job of the ABC board is to regulate the sale of alcohol, not to enforce their own code of morality. We already have laws such as Section 22-1312 Lewd, Indecent or Obscene Acts; Section 22-2201 Certain Obscene Activities and Conduct Declared Unlawful; Section 22-2713 Prostitution, Pandering; and Section 22-3101 Sexual Performance Using Minors, which more than adequately serve the purpose of regulating public and commercial sex.

Section 905 is unnecessary, unconstitutional and at odds with the stated purpose of the regulations to implement the law. The Council should delete it in its entirety.

Thank you. I would be glad to answer any questions you may have.

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