How my friend redefined "family" (VIDEO)
Last week, I visited my dear friends Will, Juan, and their son Oliver during our family vacation. I hadn't seen them in a long time and was shocked to learn that they were in the middle of a lawsuit against the Roanoke Athletic Club in Virginia.
Essentially what happened was that they signed up for a "family membership" and began to use the facilities. Just one week later they got a call from the club's director of operations revoking their membership, stating that the club had made a mistake, since Will, Juand and Oliver did not really meet their "definition of family". Family was defined by the club as, "a husband, wife and their children ages 21 and younger living at home."
The director of operations went on to claim that Roanoke Athletic Club was only following Virginia state law, which does not recognize same sex marriage. I was appalled when I heard the story. But, honestly, the first thing I thought to myself was how these people from the Roanoke Athletic club had no idea whom they were messing with.
While someone esle may have let this one slide, Will would never. He decided to fight--not only for himself, his partner, or his son--but also for the rest of the gay community in the state of Virginia.
In a way, I was glad this happened to Will and Juan because they're both major advocates for LGBT civil rights. Will Trinkle was chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) in New York, and still serves on its board, he's also a former national board member of GLAAD.
Will told ABC, "Actually it was like someone punched us in the stomach. It's from a place we couldn't imagine that there would be this kind of discrimination. We have come a long way, but this shows we still have a long way to go."
If Will and Juan are not a family I don't know what they are, they have been together for eight years and decided to have a son together. Now, they are considering giving their 2-year-old Oliver a sibling soon.
Whether or not you believe in same-sex marriage, the fact remains that a couple that isn't legally wed isn't any less of a family. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there were more than 8 million unmarried couples living together in 2010. Some are opposite sex, some are same sex--but all of them deserve to be recognized as families, because that's exactly what they are.
The club was forced to answer to widespread public outcry sparked by a petition on Change.org demanding same-sex family club memberships. The petition went viral on July 4th and the Club owners quickly announced the policy change on their business Facebook page on July 5th.
I hope that now they will learn to treat all families (married, unmarried, same sex and opposite sex) with full respect. Hopefully, more private clubs around the nation will follow their lead and change their ridiculous policies as well.
What do you think of these stupid club policies? Do you believe that in order to be called a family you have to be married?
Image via ABC News