1/25/2009

1138 Reasons: "Family Only" Access

1138-NEWImage by jessebucksc via FlickrGLBT couples are denied access to "family only" services, such as reduced rate memberships to clubs & organizations or residency in certain neighborhoods.

Have you ever gotten one of those advertisements in the mail offering you a free weekend at a resort and a free gift for coming to look at their property? Sure you have. I even have a friend who has made it something of a perpetual vacation to take advantage of those offers. She and her husband travel to as many places as possible, often collecting a number of invitations for a particular area and then spending two or three weeks of their vacation at resort properties without a spending a dime.

Sounds really great and she kept putting me down as a "friend" so I could get the offers too. But, she wanted to know why Michael and I never took advantage of the offers. One day I showed her the advertisement that states clearly the offer is only open to "married couples". I then pointed out that many of the resort properties she visited were for "married couples" or "families" only.

Because we were not legally allowed to marry I could not take advantage of her vacation system and neither could I ever purchase a condo or time-share in most of the places she visited. She couldn't believe they would do that and after she asked during her next trip and found out it was true, a die-hard Republican became a supporter of marriage equality.

What about "family" memberships at gyms or other public accommodations? If you're an LGBT couple or family then you may be out of luck. Many gyms, realizing the gold mine that is gay men have relaxed their "family" rules, but many have not. It is not unusual for a gay couple who live together, share expenses and sometimes even raise children together to be charged double for memberships or entrance fees because a site refuses to recognize them as a "family". While straight couples get numerous discounts, gay couples are charged higher rates and sometimes even denied access.

IMG_3103Image by jessebucksc via FlickrMany years ago, I went to my Surgical Department's very fancy Christmas party. The admission fee to cover the live band, catering, photographer, etc. was the usual $35 a person or $50 a couple. No problem, I had my date with me and readily ponied up the $50 at the door. I was told by the hired doorman that I'd have to pay $70. When I asked why he said "Two guys aren't a couple!" Shocked, since we had several LGBT people in the department I put up quite a fuss. Finally, our Nurse Manager (who was lesbian) straigtened out the fellow. Yet, that was my first taste of what was to come in the future as "two guys" weren't viewed as a couple and would be denied the same breaks and rights as a "guy and a girl."

In our case, because of DOMA and state laws, we have no recourse. If we are subjected to discrimination in housing, admissions, or accomodations we cannot sue nor can we ask for assistance from our government agencies charged with insuring equality and fairness.

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