NYC Charter Backs Brooklyn Bar Owner Suing Over ‘Anti-Gay’ Lease
By: Al Barbarino
April 22nd, 2014
The owner of Lulu’s bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn who is suing his landlord for an alleged anti-homosexual clause built into his lease may have the law on his side.
Owner John McGillion is reportedly suing landlord Janet Berger of Manhasset in the Brooklyn Supreme Court for the alleged anti-gay clause, which states, according to reports, that the premises “shall not be operated as a gay or lesbian bar and/or restaurant.”
But attorney Adam Leitman Bailey, reacting to the news of the lawsuit, told Commercial Observer that the New York City Charter clearly prohibits such terms.
“You can’t tell the patrons coming to visit a restaurant who they’re allowed to sleep with,” he said.
Mr. Bailey passed along a copy of the Charter’s Civil Rights section, highlighting a section stating that it is an “unlawful discriminatory practice for any person, being the owner, lessee, proprietor, manager, superintendent, agent or employee of any place or provider of public accommodation” to discriminate based on a range of criteria including race, creed, color, age, gender and/or “sexual orientation.”
“If the clause in the lease prohibited all bars, the landlord would clearly have been within his [or her] rights,” he said. “But the specificity against gay bars, clearly to me runs afoul of this statute.”
Mr. McGillion stated in the lawsuit that he is “barely scraping by on the proceeds of the bar” and feels that he would “be able to make a considerable profit” by making Lulu’s a gay bar, according to the New York Post.
“I don’t know what their problem is. Who knows? I thought those days were gone,” he said. “I mean, who cares, today? Gays — everybody’s got their rights. What’s the big deal?”
Mr. McGillion, who owns a handful of other bars in Brooklyn and Manhattan, opened Lulu’s in 2005, one block from the East River, later investing in two mezzanine level additions. He believes he could have done another “40 to 50 percent” more business as a gay establishment.
“They do well because you don’t have issues of fighting,” he told the Post.
“They’re nice people, they’re wonderful to deal with. It’s easier. Typically you don’t have to offer food.”
Mr. McGillion is asking a judge to declare the clause in question invalid and to extend the remaining 10 months on the lease by two or three years.