Elks Get Earlier Hearing In Anti-bias Law Challenge

March 10, 1992

A private, all-male Annapolis club won an earlier hearing date yesterday for its challenge of a city law that would deny its liquor license, easing fears among members that the license would expire before the case was heard.

Attorneys for Elks Lodge 622 agreed to drop their motion for an injunction to delay the law's effect in return for an April 10 trial date in county Circuit Court. The lodge's license expires April 30.

The Elks sued last September to overturn the 1990 ordinance, which withholds liquor licenses from private clubs whose bylaws discriminate based on race, sex, gender or ethnic background.

The lodge contends the city overstepped its bounds by passing an ordinance more restrictive than state law. The club's attorneys also plan to argue thelaw is "peculiar" by linking liquor licenses to membership criteria.

"Many of our social activities are hinged on the serving of alcoholic beverages -- crab feasts, bull roasts, other fund-raisers," saidattorney Robert Dietz.

In an attempt to comply with the law, the 90-year-old lodge tried unsuccessfully last July to persuade the Elks' national membership to change the bylaws to admit women.

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