It’s almost too ridiculous to believe that in this day and age a family could be barred from becoming a member of an athletic club because of their sexual orientation, but that is exactly what happened to Will Trinkle and his partner Juan Granados when they applied for membership to the Roanoke Athletic Club in Virginia.
The couple was hoping to find a place to take their two-year-old son Oliver swimming during the summer months and so Trinkle signed up for the club’s family plan where his application was processed and accepted. Only, according to Trinkle, nine days later he received a call from the club letting him know that his application was processed in error and that in accordance with Virginia state law the club did not recognize same sex marriage. His “family” would not be allowed to use the pool.
Apparently, the club defines family as “husband, wife, and their children ages 21 and younger living at home.” That’s a pretty narrow definition of family given that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were over 8 million couples, heterosexual and same-sex, living together in 2010 and while same-sex marriage may not be legal in the state of Virginia, the state does not have a legal definition for family.
It’s also important to note that the club is owned by Carilion Clinic, a healthcare provider that serves nearly 1 million people in area, that has a company-wide policy that is meant to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. A petition began on Change.org by a Roanoke native, Mark Lynn Ferguson, poses the question “If Carilion won’t give unmarried couples access to a pool, how will it treat them at a hospital?”
A disturbing question that may seem a bit far-fetched…about as far-fetched as a committed gay couple being denied access to a swimming pool with their child simply because of their marital status and sexual orientation.
But don’t lose faith in humanity just yet! This story has a happy ending. The petition collected over 142,000 signatures and caught the attention of Carilion Clinic. As of today, they have amended the criteria for family membership at the gym and Trinkle and Co. can now enjoy an afternoon by the pool should they still desire to give them their business.
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