West Hollywood gay bar bans lawmakers deemed anti-gay

This post has been updated. See note below for details.

If you’re a state legislator from Arizona or Kansas, there’s a good chance you’re banned from one popular West Hollywood gay bar.

The Abbey Food and Bar this week banned “every legislator in any state that votes for bills to allow for discrimination against LGBT people,” adding the lawmakers to a Deny Entry List, according to a statement from the bar.

The ban at the Abbey comes on the heels of proposed legislation in Arizona that would bolster the rights of business owners to refuse service to gay people and others on the basis of religion. [Updated at 6:15 p.m. PST, Feb. 26: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced Wednesday she had vetoed the bill.] The Kansas House of Representatives passed a similar bill, but it was killed in the state Senate earlier this month, according to the Wichita Eagle.


Security guards at the West Hollywood watering hole have headshots of dozens of banned lawmakers, most of them from Arizona and Kansas, at the door, said Todd Barnes, general manager of The Abbey.

“It’s not like they’d come here anyway,” Barnes said. But the ban is to give them a taste of what it’s like to be kicked out of a business, he said.

Staff members at the bar have been inundated with hateful calls and messages since The Abbey announced the ban earlier this week, Barnes said.

“They’re trying to say we’re being bigots and we’re the ones discriminating,” he said. “But it’s about sending a message that those people who vote against gays and lesbians can be treated in the same sense.”

The list of banned politicians is sure to grow, Barnes said.

The ban was the brainchild of David Cooley, founder of the Robertson Boulevard bar.

“I’ve learned that I can’t stop crazy, ignorant or stupid, but I can stop it from coming through my doors,” Cooley said in a statement. “I live in the ‘Real America’ too and more importantly, I live in the real world. 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.”

At the bar Wednesday afternoon, a bartender and a few customers were discussing whether, under the legislators’ line of thinking, they could legally ban overweight people since gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins. Could they claim, they asked, that it was against their religion to serve people they deemed gluttonous?


The Abbey is known for taking political stands. In 2012, the bar banned bachelorette parties celebrating straight women’s upcoming nuptials while gay marriage was still illegal in California.

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