Summersgill Testifies on Proposed ABC Regulations, Urges Removal of Section
Testimony on the Alcoholic Beverage Control Rules for
Implementing DC Law 13-298
Delivered before the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Gay And Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington
P. O. Box 75265 Washington, D.C. 20013
November 19, 2003
Chairman Ambrose, Committee members and fellow residents:
Good afternoon. My name is Bob Summersgill. I am the
treasurer and immediate past president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists
Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA), the oldest continuously active gay and
lesbian civil rights group in the country.
GLAA strongly objects to the inclusion of Section 905 in
the proposed ABC regulations offered by the ABC Board.
As clearly stated by the ABC Board in their introduction,
“The purpose of the proposed rules is to implement conforming regulations to
carry out the provisions of D.C. Law 13-298, the Title 25, D.C. Code Enactment
and Related Amendments Act of 2001, which took effect on May 3, 2001.”
However, there is no section of the law which in any way
relates to Section 905.
905. PROHIBITED CONDUCT ON LICENSED PREMISES 905.1 No
holder of an alcoholic beverage license shall require or permit any
entertainer, employee, customer, or other person to do any of the following
on its premises:
(a) Perform acts of oral, anal, or vaginal sexual
intercourse, masturbation, or bestiality; or
(b) Fondle the breasts, buttocks, anus, or genitals
of any other person.
905.2 No holder of an alcoholic beverage license shall
permit any person who engages in any of the acts prohibited by § 905.1 to
remain on the licensed premises.
In addition to the improper inclusion of this regulation
over the Council’s intent in enacting the law, this section is on its face
unconstitutional in two ways.
First, most hotels in DC have liquor licenses for their
in-house bars and restaurants. Each of these establishments would be required
to prohibit any guests from performing any of the listed sexual acts even in
their locked rooms. This is a clear violation of the constitutional right to
privacy as unequivocally established earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme
Court in Lawrence v. Texas.
The ABC Board is attempting through Section 905 to
re-criminalize sodomy and other completely legal and constitutionally
protected activities. DC’s community undertook a sustained campaign for 30
years to repeal the sodomy law led by Dr. Frank Kameny. This must not be
reversed in this obviously unconstitutional section.
Second, most of our theaters also have liquor licenses.
Plays and other live performances often call for the fondling of breasts or
buttocks of themselves or other actors. These performances are strictly
protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The very existence
of this section creates an impermissibly chilling effect on theater and other
live performances. By way of example, The Shakespeare Theater’s Asides
magazine for August includes a picture on page 14 of a man with his hand
inside a woman’s dress from Academy of Classical Acting’s production of
The White Devil at the Shakespeare Theater’s studio. This is the very
embodiment of fondling of the breasts in paragraph (b).
The job of the ABC board is to regulate the sale of
alcohol, not to enforce their own code of morality. We already have laws such
as Section 22-1312 Lewd, Indecent or Obscene Acts; Section 22-2201 Certain
Obscene Activities and Conduct Declared Unlawful; Section 22-2713
Prostitution, Pandering; and Section 22-3101 Sexual Performance Using Minors,
which more than adequately serve the purpose of regulating public and
Section 905 is unnecessary, unconstitutional and at odds
with the stated purpose of the regulations to implement the law. The Council
should delete it in its entirety.
Thank you. I would be glad to answer any questions you
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