Gordon Tokumatsu/Tom Bravo
The founders of a well-known gay bar in West Hollywood say they are sending a message to those who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. But The Abbey s ban on political opponents of gay rights measures may carry legal complications. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from West Hollywood for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014.
A West Hollywood bar is refusing service to a select group of state legislators, in response to anti-gay legislation that has been proposed in eight states.
The Abbey Food & Bar has established a “Deny Entry List.” On it are headshots of each state representative that supports bills that allows for the discrimination of LGBT people. As of last Monday, anyone on this list will not be allowed to enter the establishment.
"I've learned that I can't stop crazy, ignorant or stupid but I can stop it from coming through my doors," The Abbey founder David Cooley said in a statement. "I want to send a message to all those people out there who conflate Christian values with discrimination: we don't want your kind here."
Bills that would legalize the discrimination of gays have been introduced in Kansas, Idaho, Ohio and Arizona. Similar proposals have been made in Tennessee, Utah, South Dakota and Oregon.
Arizona Senate Bill 1062 was passed by the Legislature last week, but Wednesday, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the measure that would have allowed businesses to deny service to people based on the business owner’s religious beliefs.
The Abbey said it established its new rule to provoke debate.
"I think it's more of a stunt," USC Business Law Professor Kerry Fields said.
According to California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, businesses cannot deny entry based on race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, medical condition, or marital status. Political persuasion is not on that list.
"People are fighting for their rights. So, you know, people are prepared to get ugly," Abbey patron Guy Smith said.
While some may argue that those on the “Deny Entry List” are unlikely to frequent The Abbey in the first place, the owner says that isn’t the point. Cooley believes the point is to take a stand and go public with it.
The Abbey is located at 692 N. Robertson Blvd. just south of Santa Monica Boulevard.