Did This Austin Bar Discriminate Against Gay Customers?
A bar situated in an Austin, Texas, gayborhood has come under fire after its owners allegedly turned away gay patrons, Houston’s CBS-affiliated station KHOU reports.
The Red Room bar, which reportedly used to cater to gay people and is located on the Fourth Street gay strip in Austin, is accused of denying gay customers after its owners hired a new promoter. The club’s former bartender, Josh Moon, told KHOU that things changed on July 19.
"It’s been a gay bar. They opened up on Fourth Street as a gay bar," Moon said. "They pulled all the bartenders in the back and they said, ’Well, we’re not going to call this a gay bar anymore, we’re going to call it a straight bar.’"
Although Moon claims gay customers were asked to leave because of their sexual orientation, the bar’s owners’ lawyers say that a private party rented the bar for the night and it was the private party that refused customers, which is legal.
Moon, however, says a Facebook invitation for that night does not say anything about a private party and that Red Room calls the night a "Grand Opening."
"I think they were going to make it a continued thing and bring these people back every weekend, because that’s how they made it sound to us," Moon told the station.
The owners also say there was a new dress code for that night but Moon says it was unfair.
"They said no shorts, no hats, no this... But then they were letting people in with shorts and letting people in with hats. They were turning gay people away just for being gay," he said. The bartender added that when he went to go talk to security he heard the door guy tell a line of customers "’This is not a gay bar anymore, you’re not welcome. You can’t come in.’"
At that point, Moon decided to leave. The next day he was fired.
"I can’t morally respect myself and be okay with this and stay here and work for you when you’re turning all of my people away. You opened up a bar on 4th Street in the gay strip. You can’t do this to people," Moon said.
The owners’ lawyers also say the bar wants to remain open and insists everyone is welcomed. They add they regret what happened that night and will be more careful when hosting private events in the future.
The Dallas Voice, an LGBT newspaper, reports that if they did kick out gay customers because of their sexual orientation, then they are violating the city’s non-discrimination ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations.