GLAA urges Evans, Graham to defend Be Bar and oppose abuse of regulatory process
Related Links

Catania, Graham troubled over Be Bar opposition (The Washington Blade) 04/26/06

In Shaw, Pews vs. Bar Stools (The Washington Post) 04/20/06

As Neighborhoods Change, So Must Politicians' Views (Marc Fisher, The Washington Post) 04/20/06

Opposition to gay bar prompts calls for liquor law change (The Washington Blade) 04/07/06

Neighbors, zoning threaten gay clubs (The Washington Blade) 02/17/06

GLAA urges Mayor to petition Zoning Commission on displaced clubs 02/13/06

GLAA submits testimony on Graham bill for relocation of clubs displaced by ballpark 01/31/06

Same-Sex, Lies & Videotape (Washington City Paper) 08/12/05

Activists slam surveillance by Cada Vez opponents (The Washington Blade) 07/29/05

ANC and Cada Vez are ready to rumble (Metro Weekly) 07/28/05

GLAA statement on Cada Vez dispute 07/26/05

GLAA advises D.C. Council on gay businesses affected by proposed stadium 11/09/04

Summersgill testifies on proposed ABC regs, urges removal of Section 905 11/19/03


GLAA is a Lambda Rising Affiliate! Click here and we'll get a commission on every item you purchase.

GLAA urges Evans, Graham to defend Be Bar
and oppose abuse of regulatory process


Go to letter to Jim Graham


GAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE OF WASHINGTON
Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
(202) 667-5139

Monday, May 1, 2006

Councilmember Jack Evans
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 106
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Jack:

We are writing today to urge you to speak out against the homophobic opposition to the Be Bar in Shaw led by Bishop C.L. Long and notorious ANC Commissioner Leroy Thorpe, and to support reforms to stop the abuse of the regulatory process by “gangs of five” and other unreasonable and unrepresentative groups.

We welcome the recent dismissal by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) of a protest lodged against Be Bar by the D.C. Black Church Initiative (DCBCI), because it was based solely on moral condemnation of homosexuality rather than on legal grounds. But while the remaining opponents may have been smart enough not to base their arguments before the ABC Board on such blatant bigotry, their past records and public statements make their bias and bad faith amply clear.

Bishop Long’s obnoxious public statements, which include the ludicrous suggestion that the first chapter of Romans somehow supersedes D.C. law, and the statement, "If this is a gay club, that's bad for the kids," clearly deserve an equally public rebuke by you, whose ward includes the Shaw neighborhood. Signed petitions clearly show that Be Bar has strong support in the neighborhood.

The fact that Bishop Long and many of his congregation commute to church from outside the District does not remove their stake in the neighborhood, but their effort to stir up race- and class-based conflict to get their way suggests a distinctly un-neighborly arrogance and recklessness. For one thing, the well-heeled Bishop Long makes an implausible anti-gentrification spokesman. For another, it is outrageous for people who fled the neighborhood to be condemning those who moved in, much less dictating what services and establishments current residents should be allowed to enjoy.

Shaw is a vibrant urban neighborhood, not a museum piece to be frozen in time to suit the narrow sensibilities of residents of Ward 9. Regarding the racial aspect of the dispute, many of the gay people who live in Shaw, as you know, are African American. A diverse city like ours cannot afford to fall prey to simplistic racial categories that are used only to divide us. And again, most of Be Bar’s neighbors have expressed support for it. We would also like to point out that Shaw is also home to truly welcoming churches such as the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, which we were pleased to honor recently with our Distinguished Service Award, and which like GLAA is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

We also believe that regulatory steps should be taken to prevent the gaming of the system by small numbers of people for the purpose of preventing legitimate businesses from operating. A notorious recent example was the entirely unjustified opposition to the highly popular Hank’s Oyster Bar at 17th and Q Streets by a “gang of five” for the purpose of winning concessions that they could not obtain on their merits. It should be plain to everyone by this point that so-called “voluntary agreements” are usually nothing of the sort, but amount to a hold-up of businesses by small numbers of cranks and NIMBYs who are unreasonably hostile to urban nightlife and who seek to turn vital city neighborhoods into quiet suburbs.

Not only should the provision regarding “gangs of five” be re-examined, steps should be taken to prevent the abuse of anonymous complaints against licensed establishments. While confidentiality of complaints should be preserved, the names of complainants should be recorded by regulators to help identify persons who repeatedly file complaints in a bad-faith effort to harass a particular business. Persons with a record of frequent complaints not sustained by the evidence should have their subsequent complaints flagged as suspicious, should receive a warning, and should be fined if their abuse of the system continues. If multiple investigations show a particular complaint against a business to be without merit, a moratorium of 90 to 120 days should be imposed on repeat investigations of substantially the same complaint. There is no reason why law-abiding business owners, who bear all of the financial risk while serving customers and generating tax revenue, should have to endure this sort of harassment, nor why taxpayers should have to subsidize personal vendettas.

Please contact ABC Board Chairman Charles A. Burger prior to the scheduled May 3 hearing to indicate your support for Be Bar and to urge a prompt and fair resolution of the current dispute. Please also publicly state your commitment to defend legitimate neighborhood businesses against both bigotry and regulatory abuse, including through reform of the ABC and other pertinent regulations.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs

cc: Jim Graham
Sharon Ambrose
Kwame R. Brown
David A. Catania
Adrian Fenty
Tom McGuire
Mike Watson
Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis
Rev. Venson P. Mathews
Metro Weekly
Washington Blade
Washington City Paper



GAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE OF WASHINGTON
Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
(202) 667-5139

Monday, May 1, 2006

Councilmember Jim Graham
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Room 105
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Jim:

We are writing today to thank you for speaking out against the homophobic opposition to the Be Bar in Shaw led by Bishop C.L. Long and notorious ANC Commissioner Leroy Thorpe, and to ask you as chair of the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to support reforms to stop the abuse of the regulatory process by “gangs of five” and other unreasonable and unrepresentative groups.

We welcome the recent dismissal by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) of a protest lodged against Be Bar by the D.C. Black Church Initiative (DCBCI), because it was based solely on moral condemnation of homosexuality rather than on legal grounds. But while the remaining opponents may have been smart enough not to base their arguments before the ABC Board on such blatant bigotry, their past records and public statements make their bias and bad faith amply clear.

Bishop Long’s obnoxious public statements, which include the ludicrous suggestion that the first chapter of Romans somehow supersedes D.C. law, and the statement, "If this is a gay club, that's bad for the kids," clearly deserve an equally public rebuke. Your statement, “There is no room in the ABC law for countenancing homophobia,” is a good start. Signed petitions clearly show that Be Bar has strong support in the neighborhood.

The fact that Bishop Long and many of his congregation commute to church from outside the District does not remove their stake in the neighborhood, but their effort to stir up race- and class-based conflict to get their way suggests a distinctly un-neighborly arrogance and recklessness. For one thing, the well-heeled Bishop Long makes an implausible anti-gentrification spokesman. For another, it is outrageous for people who fled the neighborhood to be condemning those who moved in, much less dictating what services and establishments current residents should be allowed to enjoy.

Shaw is a vibrant urban neighborhood, not a museum piece to be frozen in time to suit the narrow sensibilities of residents of Ward 9. Regarding the racial aspect of the dispute, many of the gay people who live in Shaw, as you know, are African American. A diverse city like ours cannot afford to fall prey to simplistic racial categories that are used only to divide us. And again, most of Be Bar’s neighbors have expressed support for it. We would also like to point out that Shaw is also home to truly welcoming churches such as the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, which we were pleased to honor recently with our Distinguished Service Award, and which like GLAA is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

We also believe that regulatory steps should be taken to prevent the gaming of the system by small numbers of people for the purpose of preventing legitimate businesses from operating. A notorious recent example was the entirely unjustified opposition to the highly popular Hank’s Oyster Bar at 17th and Q Streets by a “gang of five” for the purpose of winning concessions that they could not obtain on their merits. It should be plain to everyone by this point that so-called “voluntary agreements” are usually nothing of the sort, but amount to a hold-up of businesses by small numbers of cranks and NIMBYs who are unreasonably hostile to urban nightlife and who seek to turn vital city neighborhoods into quiet suburbs.

Not only should the provision regarding “gangs of five” be re-examined, steps should be taken to prevent the abuse of anonymous complaints against licensed establishments. While confidentiality of complaints should be preserved, the names of complainants should be recorded by regulators to help identify persons who repeatedly file complaints in a bad-faith effort to harass a particular business. Persons with a record of frequent complaints not sustained by the evidence should have their subsequent complaints flagged as suspicious, should receive a warning, and should be fined if their abuse of the system continues. If multiple investigations show a particular complaint against a business to be without merit, a moratorium of 90 to 120 days should be imposed on repeat investigations of substantially the same complaint. There is no reason why law-abiding business owners, who bear all of the financial risk while serving customers and generating tax revenue, should have to endure this sort of harassment, nor why taxpayers should have to subsidize personal vendettas.

Please contact ABC Board Chairman Charles A. Burger prior to the scheduled May 3 hearing to indicate your support for Be Bar and to urge a prompt and fair resolution of the current dispute. Please also publicly state your commitment to defend legitimate neighborhood businesses against both bigotry and regulatory abuse, including through reform of the ABC and other pertinent regulations.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs

cc: Jack Evans
Sharon Ambrose
Kwame R. Brown
David A. Catania
Adrian Fenty
Tom McGuire
Mike Watson
Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis
Rev. Venson P. Mathews
Metro Weekly
Washington Blade
Washington City Paper


pageok