Virginia

Virginia fitness club revises ‘family’ policy after gay parent files lawsuit

Staff Reports

ROANOKE, Va. — A Virginia fitness club has revised its membership policy after a Roanoke, Va., man filed suit against the club for revoking his family membership when it realized his family included his partner and son.

In a statement released Thursday, the Roanoke and Botetourt Athletic Clubs announced they were changing their “family” membership to a new “household” membership, that would consist 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.”

William Trinkle had filed suit in Roanoke Circuit Court on behalf of himself, his partner, Juan Granados, and their 2-year-old son, Oliver Trinkle-Granados, alleging that the Roanoke Athletic Club and its affiliate, Carilion Clinic, violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act when it invalidated his membership contract, reported the Roanoke Times.

Trinkle and Granados said they were shocked when they were turned away from the pool facilities — the couple said club officials told them same-sex couples don’t meet Virginia’s legal definition of family.

Trinkle’s complaint says that on May 15 he applied for and received a family membership at the Roanoke Athletic Club on Starkey Road, but was informed May 24 that the club had accepted his application by mistake.

A club employee told him that Carilion, following Virginia law, did not recognize Trinkle and Granados and their son as a family and was invalidating his membership, according to the complaint.

In a statement, Trinkle said he’d been told by an unnamed Carilion representative “they were ‘tightening policies’ so no families like us would ever ‘get as far’ as we had.”

On Thursday afternoon, Carilion Clinic Vice-President Bud Grey announced a change in the club’s membership guidelines.

Since opening our doors over three decades ago, we have always strived to provide the very best in service, programs, and staffing. 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 with the following criteria:

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.

While Virginia does not recognize civil unions between members of the same sex or same-sex marriage, private institutions are not legally required to follow the same definitions.

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