To enjoy a night out on the town in Wilmington, you have to read the fine print. To enter some downtown bars and clubs, you must become a member. Controversy over the law came to a head when some military members claimed they were singled out, and not let in. “I live here in Wilmington. I'm a resident, I pay taxes here, so therefore I should be able to go downtown and have a good time," said Marine SSgt. David Kallam. Others agree. Marine veteran Adam Casteel said, "I personally put my military ID behind my driver’s license because I have an Ohio driver’s license." The current law requires a three-day waiting period for club membership. Bar owner Owen Dunne said, "Sometimes, bar owners use the membership as an excuse. Overall, I think it's good that it is disappearing, people can just walk into the bar and have a drink and you don't have to go through this process." A push to change that law started last year when the USS North Carolina was commissioned. Dozens of sailors poured into Wilmington, only to be refused entry into some downtown establishments. That got the attention of city leaders. "That taint of discrimination will be eliminated and we want to be a friendly city, we want to be an open city,” said Mayor Bill Saffo. “We are a tourist community we have a lot of people come here from all over the state of North Carolina to enjoy the coast, the river, and downtown. We want them to be able to go anywhere they want within our community." And feeling welcomed is something area military members are looking forward to. In the past, some bar owners have said Marines can be rowdy and disrupt business. It will still be up to the clubs and their bouncers to keep things orderly inside their establishments.
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