A same-sex couple who have a two-year old son have been denied access to a health club’s swimming pool because they are a same-sex couple. The Roanoke Athletic Club, which is owned by a regional Virginia medical provider, Carilion Clinic, has revoked the membership of the family after they realized the family was headed by two gay dads.
Via a Change.org petition written by Mark Lynn Ferguson:
On May 15, Will Trinkle, a real estate agent in Roanoke, Virginia, applied for membership at the Roanoke Athletic Club, a gym that is owned by the regional medical provider Carilion Clinic. He and his partner Juan Granados wanted to take their 2-yeard-old son Oliver Trinkle-Granados to the gym’s outdoor pool during the summer months.
Only children on family memberships are allowed to use the pool, so Trinkle signed up for a family plan. His application was accepted and processed, clearly listing him, his same sex partner, and their child as members.
Nine days later, a representative from the gym contacted Trinkle and told him that his application was processed by mistake. According to Trinkle, the representative said that the company was “‘tightening policies’ so no families like us would ever ‘get as far’ as we had.” The representative went on to claim that Roanoke Athletic Club is following Virginia state law, which does not recognize same sex marriage.
“We were really surprised. It’s like someone punched us in the stomach,” Trinkle says, “We couldn’t imagine this kind of discrimination.”
The fact that a couple isn’t legally wed is hardly a defense for treating them as second class citizens. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there were more than 8 million unmarried couples living together in 2010. Some are opposite sex; some are same sex. All of them deserve to be recognized as families by local businesses.
This is especially true when that business is a healthcare provider that serves nearly 1 million people. In addition to the Roanoke Athletic Club, Carilion Clinic operates seven hospitals in Southwest Virginia, more than 150 other medical practice sites, and a new, high-profile medical school that it recently launched in partnership with Virginia Tech.
If Carilion won’t give unmarried couples access to a pool, how will it treat them at a hospital?
Hospital visitation rights are crucial. If Carilion gets access to a swimming pool wrong, how right can they get access to a hospital. Federal regulations, if the medical provider gets support from the federal government, say, via Medicare, prohibits denying access to same-sex partners.
But wait, there’s more.
Yesterday, Towleroad reported:
According to Chanda Ingram and Nikki Hyler, another Carilion-owned club, the Botetourt Athletic Club, turned them away after learning they are lesbians.
Local NBC station WSLS reports:
Ingram said she looked at the BAC [Botetourt Athletic Club] with her then 7 year old daughter, Abby.
Ingram claims the BAC representative was just about to grant her the family membership when he asked if her “husband” could come in and sign the paperwork.
When she explained she had no husband, instead she had a partner, Ingram said the BAC employee immediately rescinded the offer for family membership.
“I was truly speechless,” Ingram said. “We just walked out at that point.”
Carilion, as you can imagine, had no comment.
But wait, there’s more.
Via the Roanoke Times last week:
A maintenance worker at Carilion Clinic is claiming he endured discrimination and racial harassment that included the display of shackles and a noose in his workplace.
Vernell Coles, who is black, makes the allegations in a lawsuit filed in Roanoke’s federal court.
The case was allowed to move forward Tuesday, when District Court Judge Glen Conrad said he was not inclined to dismiss the lawsuit at Carilion’s request.
The department that does maintenance work for Carilion’s medical and office complex is “all-white, all the time,” said Terry Grimes, a Roanoke lawyer who filed the lawsuit.
“It’s fairly egregious behavior.”
In the lawsuit, Coles claims he was passed over for a promotion in a hostile work environment where both managers and some co-workers used racial slurs.
The lawsuit does not provide details of just where the noose and shackles were displayed on Carilion property, but claims they were part of a “racially hostile and offensive work environment” that persisted during Coles’ 15 years of employment.
In the pleadings, Coles states that one manager told him he would never advance because he was a “worthless n—–.”
Another stated that Coles only got his job with the assistance of the NAACP, and that he was a “lazy n—–,” the lawsuit claims.
Gays, lesbians, and blacks. Who’s next?
Image of the swimming pool at Carilion
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