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Barney’s Beanery Drops Anti-Homosexual Slogan

January 16, 1985 GMT

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) _ Barney’s Beanery bowed to the new City Council’s wishes Tuesday, allowing the mayor take down a sign with an anti-homosexual slogan and halting distribution of matchbooks with the same legend.

Mayor Valerie Terrigno struggled with the sign before it finally came down for the second time since it was posted in 1933 when Barney’s Beanery opened.

The sign and the matchbooks read, ″Fagots Stay Out.″

In a brief statement outside the bar, Ms. Terrigno said the sign had been removed in the early 1970s after Gay Liberation members protested, but the sign and matchbooks were revived later ″apparently as a touch of nostalgic history.

″For the people of West Hollywood, there has been nothing nostalgic about it,″ she said. ″The words have been discriminatory and have reduced a large part of our population to the status of second-class citizens.″

Owner Irwin Held said at a news conference before the sign’s removal that he agreed to stop using the slogan to avoid a ″prolonged, expensive and divisive legal battle that would not serve the best interest of West Hollywood or Barney’s Beanery.″

Residents of the new city, which has a large gay population, said the red matchbook covers and sign violate a city ordinance outlawing discrimination against homosexuals.

The city was incorporated last November and the ordinance adopted Nov. 30 became effective immediately, declaring a city policy ″that it is necessary to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to be free from discrimination on account of sexual orientation.″

Attorneys for Barney’s argued that the slogan was intended as humor and was not discriminatory.

Norman Levine, Held’s attorney, reiterated Held’s view that the First Amendment right to use the slogan would have won in a court battle, but City Attorney Michael Jenkins disagreed.

″We are not talking about political expression but commercial expression,″ Jenkins said.

The matchbooks have been distributed since 1972, but Barney’s recently began offering two different matchbooks - one with the slogan and one without.