Gay Dads Slap VA Health Club With Lawsuit For Nixing Membership

A gay couple in Virginia is suing the Roanoke Athletic Club for discrimination, after the gym canceled their family membership.

On May 15, Will Trinkle and partner Juan Granados joined the RAC under a family package with their 2-year-old son, Oliver. Though they were initially accepted, the couple received a letter a week later telling them they were not a family under Virginia law and their application was processed “by mistake.”(The state of Virginia doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions.)

In addition to foisting higher fees on Granados and Trinkle for individual memberships, the gym’s decision means Oliver can’t use many of the club’s facilities, including the swimming pool: “The Children’s Rules provide that only children on a family membership may use the youth services room, the track, group exercise, cardiovascular, Nautilus, LifeFitness, Keiser and gymnasium,” their complaint states.

“The primary focus of the case is for this family to have the opportunities that other families have, and to have the contract that was signed be enforced,” says attorney John Fishwick, who is representing Granados and Trinkle. He claims the decision was a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

Trinkle, who says he was upfront about his relationship when he joined, describes RAC’s turnaround “like someone punched us in the stomach.”

If you’re disgusted by the gym’s actions, join the more than 20,000 people who have signed a petiton supporting Granados, Trinkle and their son.

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  • Houston Bill

    This appears to be a clear case of denial of public accomodations by a hospital corporation.

    Was this hospital group built with taxpayer funds, including taxpayer subsidized debt, or tax offsets? Does this hospital group enjoy protection from competition throught the ‘certificate of need’ program?

    What other public accomodations are denied to Gay and Lesbian families by Carillion?

  • Cam

    Countdown to all the anti-gay folks coming in here pretending to be gay claiming that this never happened that that the couple is lying and that gays are bad etc…

    The homophobes usually start their rants with “As a gay man I think……..”

  • Chad

    How many divorced couples with kids have membership?

  • Melba Carr

    I signed because this is just plain wrong. They need to move someplace else where there are people with brains.

  • Houston Bill

    Yea, but if a hosptial is recommending to its patients to use a certain facility and that facility (owned by the hospital) is discriminating, its getting periolously close to medical service discriination.

  • B

    No. 4 · Melba Carr suggested, “They need to move someplace else where there are people with brains.”

    I checked a google map. The town they live in is at the western edge of Virginia, 1/3 of the distance from its southern border towards it northern one. The closest states are Kentucky, West Virginia, and North Carolina.

    The problem with Melba’s suggestion is that they would most likely have to relocate, probably to more distant state, to avoid this discrimination, which would also require a job change as well. Usually people aren’t very productive in a new job for several months as they learn how their new company operates. While it is easy to say “just move somewhere else,” the cost of that is really quite high and is born by more than just the people directly affected. Given the economic mess the U.S. is in, we simply can’t afford the cost of that sort of bigotry. Whatever your political opinion (liberal versus conservative) I think all of us should be able to agree on the obvious fact that we won’t be able to pay down the debt by making U.S. workers less efficient.

  • Aquarelle

    BORING! I mean, it’s like, why are you having kids in the first place? Your fault for saddling yourself with some snot-nosed rugrat.

  • Houston Bill

    Carilion just did the right thing and instituted a household membership at the same price as the family membership. Thanks to all that got involved.

  • gayle

    @Chad: @Chad:
    What is your point? The State does not recognize their marriage, unity…what ever…so they are NOT entitled to a family plan… the laws are left up to the States…the Supreme Court will not hear it…..

  • LaTeesha

    @gayle: Gayle are you really that stupid or do you just play it on the internet? How the State defines a family is irrelevant to how this private health club defines a family. There’s no reason their family plan can’t accept a two dad family – other than the company’s own bigotry. There is no law that says family memberships must follow the state’s definition of marriage. Really, grow a brain before commenting.

  • Matt

    Really who cares?

  • EvonCook

    @Aquarelle: Dear Aquarelle, I am waiting for you to have one positive and pleasant comment! Something must please you and make you happy!

  • Aquarelle

    @EvonCook: As a matter of fact I just posted a comment on the article about the straight guys doing a parody of a Karmin song where I praised the boys’ cuteness. So there!

  • B

    No. 9 · gayle wrote, “@Chad: @Chad:
    What is your point? The State does not recognize their marriage, unity…what ever…so they are NOT entitled to a family plan”

    Doesn’t matter. According to the article Queerty linked to:
    Fishwick claimed the Roanoke Athletic Club’s decision is a breach of contract and a violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.

    “The underlying case is a contract case,” he said Wednesday. “The primary focus of the case is for this family to have the opportunities that other families have, and to have the contract that was signed be enforced.”

    You can find the Virginia Consumer Protection Act at – the word “misrepresentation” comes up a lot. If the Roanoke Athletic Club decided to change its collect mind so that the couple are no longer getting the services they agreed to when they signed up, the club is in trouble.

    One might add that the original article pointed out that other organizations in the area treat same-sex couples equally – while state law does not require that, it does not forbid it.

  • Houston Bill

    @gayle: Gayle, Carilion decided to cancel all family memberships and to replace them with a household membership, open to all families. It was announced 30 mins ago on Carilion’s FB page.

    Perhaps Carilion was worried about the following

    1) As a hospital that was the full owner of a health care facility recommended by its medical providers, that they were in danger of getting sued for discrimination in medical services (or cost), or that they would have to stop funneling patients to the wholly owned gyms.

    2) The bad PR of denying access to a CHILD to make an anti-Gay political point.

    3) The political fallout (and ramifications for decreased access to taxpayer dollars) of a discriminatory hospital fighting for research dollars and federal funding to build a medical school at VaTech.

  • Noah

    I’ve got to applaud Queerty for their efforts toward equality. They’ve got just as many idiot commenters here as there are on straight sites.

  • Bipolar Bear

    It’s ironic when you consider that some people are against gay people having children because of the discrimination the child will have to face – the same kind of people who are actually enacting it.

    And of course, it’s all the gay couple’s fault, because it’s just “vanity parenting”:

  • Paul

    @EvonCook: I don’t think Aquarelle could post anything positive towards anything with substance Evon, as he unfortunately, clearly has no soul.

  • Mk Ultra

    I like how even after the change in policy, the “genius” behind it still seems to have extreme difficulty putting “gay
    ” and ” family” together. They will do lingustic gymnastics to avoid acknowledging gay families in any way.
    “household arrangement”
    “domestic unit”
    “lifestyle choice”
    Well, let them have that consolation prize, I guess. The real win here is for gay families

  • Hyhybt

    @Houston Bill: So, a good outcome for all. Makes a nice change now and then, doesn’t it.

  • Excels

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer couple. See Will, your family money can’t buy everyone.

  • Steve 2.0

    Will Trinkle is from a very old Roanoke family. His grandfather was 49th governor of Virginia. He moved to New York City after Virginia passed the hateful Marriage Amendment in 2006. Will moved back to Roanoke to be with his family and raise his child in the town he was raised in, just like a lot of parents do.

    I just love the way the LGBT community dismisses any cities and towns outside the queer meccas as backwards and out of touch. Virginia has a lot wrong with it, but it is a beautiful state, especially Southwestern Virginia.

    I lived in Roanoke for over 18 years. I am proud of the progress made there in the fight for LGBT equality. Roanoke has a large and active gay community and celebrates Pride every year like cities all over the world. Last year’s attendance was over 5000, drawing people from throughout the region, including West Virginia and Tennessee. I am proud to have been a co-founder of Roanoke Equality and to have organized rallies, outreach programs, educational seminars, lobbying efforts against DADT, for ENDA and to have worked with all of the amazing LGBT groups and activists in the Roanoke Valley.

    The fact that there are people in small towns who are willing to stand up and fight is a major step forward. It’s easy to be gay in NY, DC, LA and San Francisco. It’s a lot harder in smaller cities. Sure we could leave, but there would be no one left to fight our battles in the places where it is most needed.

  • Mark

    @Mark: Sorry steve – not sure why you appeared on this – meant this for Aquarelle.

  • Aquarelle

    @Paul: @Mark: I’m really shocked and hurt by the level of cyber-bullying against me. Are you guys even stopping to think about how your words affect me? What if I ended my own life? I could become the next Tyler Clementi, except that my suffering is worse than Tyler’s because I have to face bullying from my own community, which Tyler was lucky enough not to experience. I thank God that I’m a strong, courageous person who is beautiful both in the outside and inside, because otherwise I would be really hurt by your attitude towards me. But I’m going to forgive all of you as our lord and savior commands and I’ll never let anybody convince me that I’m anything less than unique and special.

  • Paul

    @Aquarelle: You know, Aquarelle…I know that we wouldn’t be so lucky, because if you jumped from a high place, all you would do is bounce up and down once you hit the pavement since your heart and soul is nothing but one big stone rock.

  • Blah, bla..huh?

    @Aquarelle: You’re the number one Queerty troll IMO really. You’re doing just a really thorough job of it lately. I can’t wait to see how your unintentional efforts at casting everything hetero and male as intolerably destructive and toxic turn out. By the time you’re done here, you’ll have everyone subconsciously convinced that being a “straight man” is merely the simple exercise of brutal indifference, cowardice, naked sadism and social suicide. You’re like the homophobe switching roles with his target, just to feel himself getting “bashed”. Like a sort of “Jackass: the gay version”. It’s really potentially funny, because people punching their own eyes to call them black are just funny. This kind of straight-boy trolling is pure gold to anyone with an eye towards the online editorial and a search engine. (*Cough*, Queerty staff *Cough*) So just let ‘er rip OK dude? *ping*

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