Lesbian Couple Denied TX YMCA Membership

Lesbian Couple Denied TX YMCA Membership

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Photo: Alyssa Keehn
Photo: Alyssa Keehn

A lesbian couple was denied the right to enroll under af amily membership plan at their local YMCA in Taylor, Texas recently.

Their inability to provide a certificate of marriage meant that the long-term couple, who have raised a 20-year-old son together, were not qualified applicants for a family membership at the Taylor branch of the nationwide health club. Suzy Sheridan, one of the moms, took to the web to voice her disappointment over this policy, starting a petition on Change.org.On the petition’s webpage, she describes the situation:

The Tyler YMCA has discriminated against my family and denied letting us join under the family plan because we are not a traditional family. My life partner and I have been together for over twenty years and have a 20 year old son. We also assist another young man who has lived with us nearly two years. I was told I would have to produce a marriage certificate before they would let us join under the family plan. I told them that was not possible since I live in Texas and our long time relationship was not recognized in this state. I told them that I felt they were being discriminatory. What’s ironic is that they didn’t have a problem letting us join under the family plan when our son swam on their swim team 10 years ago. I feel they should have a policy across the board for all their facilities allowing all types of families to join their organization.

Fortunately, Seattle gyms seem to take a more progressive approach in enrolling same-sex family plan members.

“Everyone is welcome at our location,” Larry Parker, membership services representative at the University Family YMCA, said on Wednesday, January 30.

“Actually, all of the YMCAs in the Seattle area have this policy of inclusion,” he said, explaining that “any two adults sharing a living space are permitted to register as a couple. Period.”

​Gold’s Gym shares a very similar family plan qualification—two adults living in the same household are eligible, regardless of sex. “We’re open to everyone here,” said Vince Rubio, general manager of the gym’s Capitol Hill location.

​It’s not just large chains that aim to include gay couples in the Seattle area, either.

​Olympic Athletic Club in Ballard allows any couple to enroll under a shared membership plan. “We don’t require proof of marriage, either,” elaborated Andie Wheeler, the health club’s membership sales associate.

​In a state that has freshly approved same-sex marriage, it’s no big surprise that Seattle businesses have such inclusive policies.

​There is still a lot to be done on the equality front, however, both in the Emerald City and in various parts of the country.

​If you would like to advocate for the right of gay families in less tolerant places, sign the Texas-based petition today on change.org.

At the time of this publication, ​the petition had 8,200 signatures.

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