Thursday, July 05, 2012

Out of the damn pool, kid! It's only for children who have a live-in, legally married mom 'n' dad


With a happy update -- see below

It's about time someone blew the whistle! OK, kids, alla youse outta da pool, and any a youse who who ain't living wit' yer legally married fodder and mudder, well, may God have mercy on yer soul.

by Ken

This story has been gnawing at me in the week or so since I first heard about it: a two-year-old boy who was barred from "family" membership, the only way he would have been allowed to used the club's pool, at an athletic club in southwestern Virginia because his family doesn't fit the club's definition of "husband, wife and their children ages 21 and younger living at home."

By this standard, which requires children to have parents who are husband and wife, little Oliver Trinkle Granados's family is obviously grossly defective. He has two fathers, Will Trinkle and Juan Granados, who are automatically ineligible to be married in Virginia.

It's not as if dads Trinkle and Granados were trying to get away with anything. They registered for the family membership in good faith on May 15, making no attempt to misrepresent who they are. Trinkle pointed out to reporters, "Our family membership at the Y has been no problem for the last two years." So they were taken by surprise when they were informed by a club employee nine days after they registered that their membership shouldn't have been accepted and had been invalidated.

As Neil Harvey reported for the Roanoke News on the suit that the Trinkle-Granados family has filed against the club:
Trinkle said that were he and Granados to apply for individual Roanoke Athletic Club memberships, their son would not be able to use many of the gym facilities, including the swimming pool.

"The Children's Rules provide that only children on a family membership may use the youth services room, the track, group exercise, cardiovascular, Nautilus, LifeFitness, Keiser and gymnasium," the complaint states. It also said Trinkle's membership and initiation fees had not been repaid.

If you want to think not-so-badly of Roanoke Athletic Club and its owner, Carilion Clinic, a major regional health-care provider, you could speculate that the rule was originally conceived to protect the club from being scammed by unrelated persons trying to pass themselves off as a "family" for the purpose of taking advantage of family-plan rates. After all, if you're going to have family memberships, it's reasonable that you have guidelines as to what constitutes a family.

But the way the RAC's rules ares written, and especially the way they're enforced, it does seem clear who the real-world target is. Will Trinkle has said in a statement that he was told by someone speaking for Carilion that "they were 'tightening policies' so no families like us would ever 'get as far' as we had." (Neil Harvey reported, "Carilion spokesman Eric Earnhart declined to comment on the pending litigation Wednesday.")

I read somewhere that some bozo cited DOMA as a reason why RAC couldn't recognize Oliver's unmarried parents as a "family," which is idiotic; DOMA has nothing whatsoever to do with athletic-club memberships. And while it's true that Virginia doesn't recognize even civil unions, let alone marriage, for same-sex couples, as reporter Harvey points out, "private institutions are not necessarily bound to follow the same definitions as those that are public." And the state has nothing, as far as I know, that remotely resembles a definition of "family."

Still, none of this is what's been gnawing at me about the case. (Yes, it has become literally a "case.") I mean, another case more or less of blatant homophobia? That's just a big yawn.

No, I've been thinking about that definition of "family." Look at it again:

"husband, wife and their children
ages 21 and younger living at home"

While this obviously rules out kids who have two parents of the same sex, it isn't exactly a walk in the park for kids whose family unit is untainted by "teh gay" or "teh lez." One assumes that RAC does periodic sweeps of the pool demanding that every kid produce: (a) a parental marriage certificate showing that he or she has two parents who are legally married, (b) a birth certificate or adoption papers showing that the husband and wife are the child's actual parents (remember, it says "their" children" [emphasis added]), and (c) some sort of additional documentation -- I'm hard-pressed to think what exactly -- to prove that the aforementioned parents are both alive and "living at home." And presumably any of the small fry who can't comply are yanked out of the pool and paraded under a banner reading "Filthy Little Bastards."

But of course it's not just little bastards who are yanked out of the pool. I suppose you can understand why it's necessary to eliminate kids who may be living with two parents who may be their actual parents but who aren't husband and wife. That's a sin, and God just hates it. You can even maybe sort of understand the thinking in eliminating kids whose parents are divorced. After all, at least according to some people, God hates that too. But jeez, kids who've had one or more parent taken away by, you know, God? Now that's really a tough standard.

Anything for the family, I guess. And think about it, would you want your kids swimming with kids who may have had a parent die? Isn't that disgusting? I mean, we have to draw the line somewhere.

Which brings us back to the same problem I talk about every time the subject of "family values" or its hypervigilant subset "defenders of marriage" comes up: the people who have stepped forward to draw those lines. By and large these are people who are psychologically deeply disturbed, and might way more usefully be on the receiving end of a crusade for mental health, people whose marriages and families are essentially breeding grounds for sociopathology, people who -- from the depths of their disturbance -- are mostly interested in punishing people who don't share their mental and moral incapacities.

Today they've taken charge of the swimming pools and athletic facilities. Tomorrow . . . ?


And they've gotten up a petition, which you can check out and, if you like, sign here.


Michael K. Lavers reports in the Washington Blade:
A Virginia health club that rescinded a gay couple's family membership announced on Thursday that it will now offer "household" memberships to unmarried couples with children under 22.

"Since opening our doors over three decades ago, we have always strived to provide the very best in service, programs, and staffing," said Bud Grey, vice president of Carilion Clinic, which oversees the Roanoke and Botetourt Athletic Clubs, in a post to its Facebook page. "Our goal has been, and always will be to encourage and inspire health and wellness among all members of the communities we serve. In keeping with this goal, and in recognition of the many contemporary households that can benefit from our facilities through discounted membership fees, we are pleased to announce that we have expanded our Family Membership into a new Household Membership." . . .

"A household consists of a primary member and up to one additional household member that permanently lives in the household, and any of their dependent children under the age of 22 who also reside in the household on a permanent basis," he wrote. "Club dues will not change; dues for the Household Membership will be the same as the Family Membership it is replacing. There is no requirement to amend your membership." . . .

Will Trinkle told the Blade: "We're very happy that famlies prevailed in the end -- all families." The lawyer who filed the suit on the Trinkle-Granados family's behalf, John Fishwick, commented: "It took a lot of courage to bring a lawsuit like this. This is how you make change."

By the way, reporter Michael Lavers notes that Roanoke Health Club's parent company, Carilion Clinic (which "operates seven hospitals and more than 150 other health care facilities" in southwestern Virginia), is "the largest employer in Roanoke."

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At 10:36 PM, Anonymous me said...

Yet another in a long string of reasons to say Fuck the South.

At 5:58 AM, Blogger Pats said...

What if the child has only one parent? What if the child lives with his divorced mother or father? Or his widowed mother or father? Then the child cannot use the facilities? Or did I miss something?

At 11:10 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Pats, this is just what I'm saying! "Husband, wife, and their children," the policy says. I guess it's what happens when really, really stupid bigots try to be "smart."

Happily, saner voices have prevailed. See my update.



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