The title of the 1997 song is a Spanish slur against gay men.
The county owns the Fillmore building on Colesville Road and leases it to Live Nation, the concert promoting giant, for $90,000 a year. The rental agreement gives Montgomery officials no say in the content of bookings, and Leggett acknowledged in his letter that controversies over extreme song lyrics are nothing new.
“I understand that the First Amendment provides for freedom of speech, and that even distasteful speech may be protected speech,” he wrote, but he argued that the song in question “verges on hate speech or completely crosses that line.”
Leggett asked Steele “to reconsider the Fillmore’s decision to book the band.”
Steele did not return a phone message Friday. Jim Yeager, a spokesman for Live Nation, said Molotov has performed numerous times in the United States, including a 2011 appearance at the 9:30 Club without protest. He said the booking would not be canceled.
“The Fillmore presents a wide variety of music, comedy and other entertainment for a demographic that makes up a diverse community,” Yeager said in a statement. “The views expressed by all of our acts are not necessarily shared by the venue or staff.”
Questions about the group’s Aug. 26 appearance at the Fillmore, the last stop in a 23-city U.S. tour, first surfaced in the Washington Blade and Maryland Juice, a site focusing on state and local politics. Leggett was prompted to write to Steele after reading the accounts, said his spokesman, Patrick Lacefield.
Equality Maryland, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights group, said that if the booking is not canceled it might stage an information picket at the venue.
“A lot of people don’t realize that lyrics are not harmless and that they impact people,” said Carrie Evans, executive director of the organization. “I think it’s a good opportunity if the concert goes ahead to have this discussion.”
The Fillmore has hosted other acts with questionable lyrics that drew no protest from Leggett. Guns N’ Roses has drawn allegations of racism and homophobia, particularly for the song “One in a Million.” Phil Anselmo, the heavy metal singer who will play the Fillmore next month, attracted charges of racism for a speech he once gave on stage. Rappers Big Sean, Young Jeezy and 2 Chainz have each incorporated hip-hop’s controversial “no homo” meme into their lyrics.
Molotov is part of the growing global rock-en-espanol scene, an underserved fan demographic in the Washington region that the Fillmore talked about courting when it opened.
The band’s managers listed on the official Molotov site, Cesar Rosas and Julio Arellano, did not respond to an e-mail Friday requesting comment. Some of the band’s defenders told the Blade that the lyrics target not gays but corrupt Mexican politicians.
Chris Richards contributed to this report.