Lodge May Get More Time To Change Bylaws On Bias

December 19, 1990|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,SUN STAFF

The Annapolis Elks Lodge 622 may get more time to comply with a new city anti-discrimination law.

The City Council's rules committee Monday night approved a bill that would give the Elks Lodge until Sept. 1, 1991 to comply with the law, which will deny city liquor licenses to clubs with discriminatory bylaws. The law is set to take effect Jan. 1.

The council will vote on the extension, proposed by Alderman Wayne C.

Turner, R-Ward 6, on Jan. 14.

The Rules Committee passed the extension bill 2-1, with the committee chairman and sponsor of the clubs law, Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, opposing. Snowden said he will fight the extension on Jan. 14, unless the Elks Lodge makes a "good-faith effort," such as admitting a black member.

"If the Elks club shows a good-faith effort, such as admitting African-American members, it probably would serve to negate a vigorous, protracted debate," Snowden said.

The Elks lodge's bylaws deny membership to women, but not to blacks.

However, the club has no black members.

In October, the lodge asked the Elks national convention to change its bylaws to admit women. Individual lodges can't change their bylaws. If the national convention approves the change next summer, every lodge in the nation would have to drop its restrictions against women. However, the national convention defeated the bylaw change when it came up two years ago.

The extension appears to have the support it needs to pass. Two aldermen who voted for the clubs bill -- Ruth C. Gray, R-Ward 4, and Dean Johnson, I-Ward 2 -- have already voiced support for the extension.

Johnson proposed an amendment to Turner's bill that would give clubs that have asked their national membership for a bylaw change until Sept. 1 to comply with the law, provided they can prove they have asked for the change. The 1,500-member Elks Lodge is in Johnson's ward.

Although the new law takes effect Jan. 1, it won't affect clubs until April, when they must renew their liquor licenses with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Of 12 private clubs in the city, only the Elks Club likely will be affected by the law.

Two other clubs with no women or black members -- the Eastport Democratic and Annapolitan clubs -- do not have discriminatory bylaws.

Annapolitan Club president Dr. Roy Land said his club admits members by invitation only, and said the club has no discriminatory language in its bylaws.

The Eastport Democratic Club changed its bylaws to admit women earlier this year, then denied membership to three women who applied.

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