Not surprisingly, the Texas Attorney General’s Office has ruled that the city of Fort Worth must release the names of witnesses to the Rainbow Lounge raid as part of its investigative report into the incident. The city had sought to withhold the witnesses’ names, arguing that releasing them would amount to an invasion of privacy and cause people to speculate about their sexual orientation, given that the Rainbow Lounge is a gay bar. But in a decision dated Feb. 3, the AG’s Office rejected the city’s argument:
“Because of the nature of the incident that occurred at the Rainbow Lounge, the involvement of law enforcement personnel, and the ensuing internal investigation, the public has a legitimate interest in the identities of individuals who were present at the scene of the incident; therefore, the identities of the individuals must be released.”
As we’ve noted before, most if not all of the witnesses’ names had already been released by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, in its report about the incident, so this ruling doesn’t have much practical impact. Given that the law clearly wasn’t on its side, I view the city’s attempt to withhold the names as little more than a symbolic gesture, an olive branch to the LGBT community. In that respect, perhaps it was a good sign.