[T]he bar’s owner said it was all a big misunderstanding, and apologized for the incident.
He said since the bar opened late last fall, it has been booked solid with private parties.
The bar is small, with a total occupancy of 117 people.
The owner said private parties often fill the bar before the doors open to the public.
Owners at the Union Bar were approached about it Thursday and reserved 50 seats inside.
Word spread, and in the end, they simply couldn’t accommodate the crowds.
The bar’s owner said no one was turned away because of their sexual orientation.
“What Union Bar did was, technically, in line with the law. They had the right to do that,” [Jerry] Simoneaux said.
The bar’s owner said his establishment has always been gay friendly, and he’s willing to prove it.
He said he plans to reach out to Houston’s gay community to clear up what he insists is just a misunderstanding.
That does cast a different light on things; mostly, it sounds like a communications failure on multiple levels. At the very least, whoever was telling folks they couldn’t enter should have given them an accurate reason for the denial – that might have avoided all the fuss. I’m glad that the bar is taking this seriously, and I hope all sides can come to an accommodation in the end.
Along those lines, the United Against Union Bar Facebook group has printed a response from the bar:
Regarding the night of Friday 3-10-2009. “The staff and management at Union Bar are very apologetic for the misunderstanding that happened at their place of business. Union Bar in no way refuses entry to any persons due to sexual orientation, race, gender or religion. We do have a capacity of 117 persons as set forth by the City Of Houston and The Fire Marshal. We follow this guild line to the letter for guest and employee safety. This was the main factor or refusing entry Friday night. Persons have booked parties 6 to 7 weeks in advance and have limited of RSVP so their guests have the right to entry first. The Guest in question was allowed to bring his 50 RSVP guest. His party showed up at 10 with approximately 200 guests and could in no way accommodate that. We offered to take all 50 guests and he demanded that we let in all. Accordance to city code we could not allow this. At no time was the staff of Union Bar rude or uninventive to their needs while inside. At 10pm we were almost at capacity and the enclosed pictures will show that (1) We were almost full (2) We had a very high numbers of male guests that were not turned away.”
We would be open to speak with the GL community on this and help prove to the G&L committee that we are a gay friendly bar!
As Phil notes, this doesn’t quite square with the initial account, at least in terms of how many people were there. Be that as it may, it is encouraging that the bar is taking steps to address the concerns. Whatever the root cause of the problem was, finding a resolution to it is what really matters. I’m hopeful that can happen. More from Equality Texas and Stace have more.