The Athens-Clarke County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday evening that could lead to downtown bars losing their liquor licenses if they discriminate against patrons. The resolution calls for recommendations from the county attorney and the county manager on what local action can be taken in such instances.
The resolution asks that the attorney’s office and the manager’s office “study and make recommendations to the Mayor and Commission for actions that may be taken at the local level … including but not limited to the ongoing consideration of possible revision to the county alcohol licensing ordinance to make a violation of local, state or federal anti-discrimination or civil rights ordinances or laws a basis for the denial, suspension or revocation of an alcoholic beverages license.”
The resolution, largely the work of Commissioners Andy Herod, Kelly Girtz and Mike Hamby, with assistance from the manager’s office and Mayor Nancy Denson, comes just a matter of weeks after an anonymous survey conducted through the University of Georgia’s Student Government Association produced dozens of anecdotes regarding the use of dress codes and private party claims to keep people out of a number of downtown bars on the basis of their race or sexual orientation.
Denson called the resolution “a statement of values in our community.”
Regarding sexual discrimination limiting entry to downtown bars, a survey respondent writing about an alleged March incident at Double Barrel said, “I was denied access because of my dress, and the bouncer said ‘we don’t let fags in here.’”
Similarly, another survey response, regarding an October incident at Whiskey Bent, contends, “My friend was kicked out of the bar for being gay. He was a guy who kissed another guy at the bar and the bouncer told them to leave.”