Colorado: Bar discriminated against man in drag

DENVER - Colorado regulators say a Denver gay bar discriminated against a man when a bouncer denied him entry last year because he was dressed in drag.

The civil rights division of the state's Department of Regulatory Agencies has ordered the Denver Wrangler, 1700 Logan St.,  to resolve the dispute with Vito Marzano, a gay man who was wearing a dress and wig when he went to the bar Aug. 31, 2013.

"They're trying to appeal to a very specific demographic, a very certain subculture -- the Bear culture" said Marzano, referring to masculine gay males.

The order obtained Monday says the bouncer turned Marzano away because his appearance didn't match the one on his driver's license. But regulators determined that the bar wrongly favors those with a masculine appearance because its dress code bars high heels, wigs and strong perfume.

"I am allergic to certain kinds of oils and in close quarters I can't breathe," said Phil Newland, the general manager at The Wrangler, explaining the ban on perfume. "All of my policies are in place because something has happened."

Newland said the bar doesn't discriminate against anyone, including transgenders, but that liquor laws require they verify ID.

"We are consistent and fair across the board," said Newland, who claimed that Manzano was turned away because he was aggressive and intoxicated. 

Marzano says the order will help protect others from discrimination. Already, more than 250 people have joined a Facebook group boycotting the bar.

"They hide behind their ID policy because of a thinly-veiled transphobia," said Marki Lindemulder, a transgender man who has been denied entrance twice. "They are a bar that marches in the same parade as me, and then to tell me I can't come into their bar, it's not OK."

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