MAKING WAVES

YMCA Denies Same-Sex Couple Park Pass Because They’re Not A “Traditional Family”

Melody Mohn and Hela Young, courtesy Gay Star News
Melody Mohn and Hela Young, courtesy Gay Star News

A same-sex couple in central Ohio is working to change their city’s definition of “family” after discovering that a decades-old ordinance barred their family from receiving a family discount at a local business.

Melody Mohn told 10TV that she’s been taking her three children to the Heise Park Pool in Galion for several years, citing it as “tradition” on hot summer days. As a frequent guest of the YMCA-operated public pool, Mohn has paid a $200 annual fee for an unlimited summer access passes to the pool in the past. This year, her family now includes her partner Hela Young, so she applied for the “family pass,” available for families at a deeply discounted price of $80.

Mohn says she was stunned when YMCA employees at the Heise Park Pool denied her application, citing a city ordinance that defines a family as “a mother, father, and up to three children.”

Mohn tells Gay Star News that she then called the city’s administrative office to complain, anticipating a “quick fix” to undo the legally sanctioned discrimination in Galion. Unfortunately, staff at the city’s administrative office offered no help, but referred back to the Galion city ordinance that “defines family.”

“I was pretty shocked,” she told GSN. “I really didn’t expect them referring to an old ordinance.” To get the word out, she started a change.org petition.

Mohn brought her concerns to the Galion City Council, where members told NBC4 Wednesday that they weren’t aware the ordinance even existed until the issue was brought to their attention. “It’s an asterisk at the bottom, a notation at the bottom that I didn’t know was there until we got it last night,” said Sarah Capretta, member of the Parks and Recreation Committee.

In response to the outdated ordinance, the Galion City Council has agreed to investigate and reevaluate the wording in its definition of family. “We certainly don’t want to do anything to prevent children and parents to go swimming in our pool,” said Carl Watt, Galion City Council President.

The City Council’s next meeting will take place on July 17, where the definition of “family” is expected to be discussed. By all accounts, it seems that this story will indeed have a happy ending, as most City Council members speaking to the press are troubled by the archaic wording. “I mentioned I am a conservative Chrisitan, so I definitely have my beliefs on what a traditional marriage should be,” Council member Jon Kleinknecht said, “but that’s not what this is about. This is about the children and it’s about them being able to use the pool.”

In the meantime, the City Council has suggested the pool change their definition of “family” pass to “group” or “household” pass.

The change may not take effect before the season is over, but Mohn says she’s at least glad she inspired change. If it changes for other families here – because we are not the only same-sex couple and we are not the only non-traditional family – so if it does something for them as well, good,” she told 10TV.