Same-sex couples Will Trinkle and Juan Granados had purchased a family membership to the Roanoke Athletic Club so they could take their 2-year-old son to its outdoor pool. Less than two weeks later, their membership was revoked because, the club claimed, they were not a “family” under Virginia law. A viral Change.org petition and lawsuit from the couple received national attention, and now the club is changing its ways, announcing today on Facebook that it was changing its policy from a a “Family Membership” to a “Household Membership”:
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:
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.
The change is a bit of a back-handed compliment. The Trinkle-Granados family can now enjoy its community’s resources just like other families — this is true. Unfortunately, it seems that in order to make this change, the owners of the Roanoke Athletic Club had to stop using the word “family” if it applied to same-sex couples, and they did so in a very public way such that all family memberships will be converted. The inherent stigma communicated to members — that gay “households” are preventing all “households” from being identified as “families” — suggests that the club could still be an unwelcoming place for the Trinkle-Granados family.