Athens-Clarke County Commission Will Consider an Anti-Discrimination Resolution at Tonight’s Meeting

The Athens-Clarke County Board of Commissioners will consider a resolution designed to combat discrimination in the county’s bars at its meeting tonight. The resolution, which is expected to pass, comes after reports of discrimination against racial and sexual minorities in bars serving the University of Georgia population, as a story in the Athens Banner Herald explains:

The action by commissioners Mike Hamby, Kelly Girtz and Andy Herod, who enjoy wide support among their colleagues, comes on the heels of a couple developments late last year on the downtown bar scene. In October, a bartender “cheat sheet” including instructions for making a racially insensitive drink — a “N*****ita” containing tequila and watermelon juice — was discovered in General Beauregard’s, an East Clayton Street bar. Shortly after that, the results of an anonymous online survey conducted through the University of Georgia’s Student Government Association, comprising anecdotal evidence of discriminatory admissions practices at downtown bars, were shared with Commissioner Allison Wright, whose district comprises most of the UGA campus.

The dozens of incidents detailed in the survey, some dating back two years, described some bars’ use of “dress code” and “private event” exclusions to keep ethnic minorities and homosexuals out of their establishments.

The resolution itself “condemns unlawful discrimination in any form and hereby call upon all businesses serving the public within the boundaries of Athens-Clarke County to act in a non-discriminatory fashion with regard to race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, citizenship, age, disability, or pregnancy.” The resolution expresses the support of the county mayor and commission of any investigations into incidents of alleged discrimination that violate federal, state or local non-discrimination laws.

The resolution also directs the Clarke County attorney and county administrator to make recommendations for possible changes to local ordinances that would support the commission’s non-discriminatory values. The resolution specifically contemplates changes to the county’s alcohol licensing laws so that an alcoholic beverage licensee could have its license suspended or revoked if the licensee was found to be in violation of discrimination laws at the federal, state, or local level.

6 comments

  1. blakeage80 says:

    I am sure the resolution will be passed with a big round of applause. However, any actual action taken risks angering a lot of downtown business owners. This line from a 12/9 story on flagpole.com is part of what they are considering:

    “The ordinance would let the county officials consider reports of discrimination when deciding whether to renew an establishment’s alcohol license.”

    So, they are thinking of creating a ‘he said, she said’ situation every time a license comes up for renewal. It probably won’t fly unless there is a lot of outside activist pressure to do so.

  2. eehrhart says:

    Interesting development.

    See copy of HB 67 from 2005 passed and signed by Governor.

    http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20052006/49865.pdf

    Perhaps the city/county commission should consider current state law before, they pass legislation which may be in conflict.

    I’m not saying it is, as I do not have a copy of the legislation, but it sounds as if it treads a fine line with private institutions on certain issues.

    • anthonymkreis says:

      Of course that legislation was intended to preempt cities from enacting legislation where private institutions granted marriage-based benefits that were unavailable to same-sex couples due to state law and then claim it was sexual orientation discrimination. That particular point is of course moot now. There is nothing preventing localities from prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations, employment, or housing under state law.

  3. Enjoy the Silence says:

    Current state law says local governments cannot “impose any penalty”…etc. from an organization for not providing benefits to an unmarried person.

    So if ACC enacts an ordinance disallowing discrimination on “race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, citizenship, age, disability, or pregnancy” then I fail to see where they are enacting a local ordinance based upon MARRIAGE.

    In other words, if the ACC enacts such an ordinance and an establishment won’t let someone in because they are gay or because they are black, how does that relate to marriage?

    Perhaps my reading comprehension skills are different than yours.

Comments are closed.