An Austin movie theater is being accused of violating anti-discrimination laws after promoting women-only screenings of "Wonder Woman." In June, Alamo Drafthouse, a theater chain, announced it would be holding women-only screenings in Austin. It later expanded those screenings to New York and Denver.
Now the chain has apologized for the screenings in a letter to the city. Drafthouse admitted their advocacy of a film screening for women was in violation of anti-discrimination laws in Austin, Texas. The apology follows an outpouring of dissent from men who claim they felt discriminated against, resulting in two official complaints to be filed with the city.
"Respondent did not realize that advertising a ‘women’s-only’ screening was a violation of discrimination laws,” the theater wrote to the city. “Respondent has a very strict non-discrimination policy in place, but this policy did NOT include a specific prohibition against advertising.”
The complaints were filed by Albany law professor Stephen Clark and an anonymous man. Clark, a gay lawyer specializing in sexual orientation and employment law, explained that the promotion of the screenings didn't sit well with him. "I’m a specialist in anti-discrimination law, so I was fairly certain that this was not lawful," he told MyStatesman. "If they were trying to do a gay-only ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ I would feel the same way."
As it turns out, the complaints have at least some legal merit. Austin city equality codes ban any public accommodation — such as a movie theater — from limiting their services for individuals based on factors including race, color, sex, sexual orientation and gender identification. It's a situation even Wonder Woman couldn't fix.
In an attempt to appease those who complained, the chain is offering to send these men DVDs of "Wonder Woman," and will update their discrimination policies in addition to sending a letter out to their staff. If the men do not accept these terms, the city may launch an investigation into the reports and the theater could face possible repercussions.