Mayor Marion Barry yesterday resubmitted a request to the D.C. City Council to issue $70 million in bonds to renovate Georgetown University, provided the university does not discriminate against homosexual students in offering services and the use of facilities.
A coalition of gay activists that sharply criticized Georgetown's refusal to recognize gay student groups on campus ended its opposition to the proposed revenue bond issue after meeting with Barry last Saturday to work out compromise language.
"Under this provision, the District must certify that Georgetown does not restrict or deny access to any of its services or facilities for a discriminatory reason prior to the issuance, sale and delivery of the bonds," Barry explained in a letter to City Council Chairman David A. Clarke that accompanied the bond request.
The university, which is engaged in a court battle with gay activists over its policies, has not formally agreed to Barry's new language. University officials are concerned that the language may have the effect of forcing Georgetown to recognize homosexual groups, according to one source.
A D.C. Superior Court judge ruled in 1983 that Georgetown may withhold privileges from gay student organizations because the university's adherence to Catholic beliefs against homosexuals is protected by the First Amendment.
The case stems from a suit filed in 1980 against the university by a group of students and is a significant test of the D.C. Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual preference. The D.C. Court of Appeals is considering an appeal of the lower court's ruling in favor of Georgetown.
Steve Smith, president of the Gay Activist Alliance here, said that gay organizations generally are satisfied with the mayor's language.
However, Smith added that the groups want to be sure that the City Council attaches a legislative history to the bond issue "that will make it clear what this language means as far as Georgetown's recognition of the student groups."
The tax-exempt bonds would be used to finance construction or rehabilitation of student housing, educational, patient care and research facilities, and other buildings.
The City Council last July approved a resolution of intent to issue the bonds. Last October, gay activist leaders persuaded Barry to delay temporarily a formal request to the council for power to issue the bonds in an effort to pressure the university into changing its policies.
Barry then submitted the request in mid-November, but the City Council adjourned without acting on it.
An aide to City Council member John A. Wilson (D-Ward 2), chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee, said it is too soon to say when the committee will consider the mayor's new request.