Relocation moves forward

DC Council passes law to allow displaced stadium-area gay clubs to relocate, plus other GLBT-related Acts introduced

The D.C. City Council on Tuesday passed, after second reading, gay Councilmember Jim Graham’s (D-Ward 1) heavily amended One-Time Relocation of Licensees Displaced by the Ballpark and Skyland Development Project Amendment Act of 2007 by a 9-4 vote. The vote followed the same lines as the June 5 Council meeting when the amendments were added without protest.

Those voting in favor of the relocation bill were: Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), David Catania (I-At large), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), Graham, Council Chair Vincent Gray, Phil Mendelson (D-At large), Carol Schwartz (R-At large) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Voting against were: Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Kwame Brown (D-At large) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5).

Graham’s legislation will make it possible for those former Southeast businesses, which catered primarily to gays, such as Secrets/Ziegfeld’s or Wet, to relocate — though by no means makes such relocation easy, or even probable. The affected businesses will still face the attendant hurdles of transferring a liquor license in the District, such as public hearings.

Beyond passage of Graham’s bill, legislators introduced a spate of bills relevant to the GLBT community July 10.

Schwartz introduced the Hate Crime Training for Law Enforcement Amendment Act of 2007. Her bill would require that officers of the Metropolitan Police Department — ”And certainly we also mean the Fire Department, as well,” she clarified — be trained periodically to help them better identify and respond to hate crimes.

Graham introduced three bills of particular interest to GLBT Washingtonians: the Parental Equality for Domestic Partners Amendment Act of 2007, the Prohibition of Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Expression Amendment Act, and the Domestic Partner Inheritance Tax Fairness Act. Graham’s bills would, respectively, automatically list both registered domestic partners as parents when one gives birth; fill loopholes in regard to discrimination against transgender residents in areas such as insurance; and extend inheritance-tax protections for surviving spouses to surviving domestic partners in the D.C. tax code.

The four bills, after picking up numerous co-sponsors, were referred to the appropriate Council committees for further review.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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