Lawsuit filed after application denied to open 'gay bar' - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Lawsuit filed after application denied to open 'gay bar'

Newton's application was denied in June by a 5-1 vote saying the bar would present a public health and safety hazard. Newton's application was denied in June by a 5-1 vote saying the bar would present a public health and safety hazard.
SPLC filed in federal court against the town mayor and aldermen of Shannon for conspiring to prevent Newtown from reopening her bar O'Hara's that would cater to the LGBT community. SPLC filed in federal court against the town mayor and aldermen of Shannon for conspiring to prevent Newtown from reopening her bar O'Hara's that would cater to the LGBT community.

(WMC-TV) - A Memphis woman claims a small North Mississippi town violated her civil rights by not allowing her to open a gay bar. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of P J Newton against the town of Shannon, Mississippi in Lee County and its leaders.

"To deny me that right is just a slap in the face," said Newton.

SPLC filed in federal court against the town mayor and aldermen of Shannon for conspiring to prevent Newtown from reopening her bar O'Hara's that would cater to the LGBT community.

"A city or town can't exercise its zoning power to disadvantage members of a particular group or people," said David Dinielli, SPLC.

Newton's application was denied in June by a 5-1 vote saying the bar would present a public health and safety hazard.

Newton had a bar also named O'Hara's in the same location in the 1990s when she sold it. According to the lawsuit, the new owners continued to run a gay bar called Rumors until 2010 at the same location.

"We are OK people. We operate legitimate law abiding businesses and they do thrive," said Newtown.

Newton has support in the LGBT community in Memphis. Dru's Place, a gay bar in Midtown, has held support functions for Newton.

Greg Tibbits doesn't understand the problem.

"It's a bar. What difference does it make whose going in there ... Why they're going in there," said Tibbits.

Newton is not giving up.

Shannon's mayor did not return Action News 5's calls for comment.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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