A Virginia-based fitness club has changed its membership policies after being slapped with a lawsuit by two gay men who were stripped of a family membership -- and whose two-year-old son was reportedly denied access to a swimming pool -- after management discovered they were a same-sex couple.
As ABC reports, Roanoke Athletic Club and and its affiliate Carilion Clinic will now offer "household" memberships in lieu of "family" memberships. Officials for the club outlined their new policy on their official Facebook page:
"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...Club dues will not change; dues for the Household Membership will be the same as the Family Membership it is replacing."
The policy change follows news of a lawsuit filed by Will Trinkle and partner Juan Granados, who have been together for about eight years. In the suit, Trinkle claimed that a club employee told him that although their membership application had initially been accepted, the couple and their son Oliver were not recognized as a family under Virginia law, according to The Roanoke Times.
Trinkle, 54, described the experience to ABC 13 as being akin to "someone [punching] us in the stomach." He continued, "It's from a place we couldn't imagine that there would be this kind of discrimination and this kind of attack. We have come a long way but this shows we still have a long way to go."
Among those to praise the policy change was Mark Lynn Ferguson, a Roanoke native who launched a Change.org petition in support of Trinkle and Granados, 40, which drew more than 150,000 signatures in a 48-hour period.
"Carilion Clinic did the absolute right thing here,” Ferguson said in an email statement. “I applaud them for listening to the thousands of people who signed my petition on Change.org, and for moving so quickly to respond to the outpouring of support for Will, Juan, and their son Oliver. Hopefully, more private clubs will follow the leadership of the Carilion Clinic and change their policies as well.”