For months there has been the controversy surrounding an old law that some people say bar owners use to discriminate against members of the military. Tonight the Wilmington city council will decide whether to ask the state to get rid of the law altogether. It all started when a group of Marines wrote a letter to Mayor Bill Saffo and the owners of several downtown clubs. They were concerned about being kept out. They said they felt discriminated against because of their role in the Marines. For US Marine Kevin Nicholson, getting into a bar in downtown Wilmington is not easy. ”It's a simple matter where you can be in line, three civilians in front of you, three civilians in back of you and you're the only person that's asked for a membership card.” Marines said they are not allowed into some of the clubs because they are not members and must wait 3 days to get their membership. Former Marine and Wilmington council member, Jason Thompson said the old private club membership law is only selectively enforced. “Bar owners were discriminating against Marines in there establishments and they were hiding behind this 3 day rule." said Thompson. College student Danny Greene said he has never had a problem getting into a club. "I have been going to the bars downtown for a couple years now and I've never been asked for a membership or to sign any kind of papers saying I am part of a membership." The Executive Director of Wilmington Downtown Incorporated said that military personnel may not be wanted in the bars because of an old stereotype of marines being more violent, a stereotype Danny Greene disagrees with. "I wouldn't say they cause anymore trouble than your everyday intoxicated male." Wilmington city council cannot change the law; however, they can decide whether or not to recommend that the state takes the three day membership law off the books. John Hinnant of Wilmington Downtown Incorporated said Marines will be held accountable for their actions when downtown. Bar owners will be able to call Camp Lejeune and report any problems, and these issues will be addressed.
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