Allow Gay Couples to Register as Families
  • Petitioned The City of Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium

This petition was delivered to:

The City of Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium
Mayor, City of Cuyahoga Falls
Don L. Robart
City Councilmember
Carrie Hummel Snyder
City Councilmember
Mark A. Ihasz
City Councilmember
Carol A. Klinger
City Councilmember
Jeff G. Iula
City Councilmember
Don S. Walters
City Councilmember
Jerry L. James
City Councilmember
Vincent J. Rubino
City Councilmember
Terry Mader
City Councilmember
Mary Ellen Pyke
City Councilmember
Ken E. Barnhart
City Councilmember
Diana M. Colavecchio

Allow Gay Couples to Register as Families

    1. Shane May
    2. Petition by

      Shane May

      Akron, OH

My husband and I have been married for almost 4 months now. He is an injured Iraq war veteran and I am his caregiver. We do water therapy as well as light lifting at our local gym to help him get stronger and keep the pain levels down. We went into the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium to switch our individual memberships into a family membership since we legally married in Washington D.C.

I proceeded to tell the woman behind the desk that we needed to change or memberships to a family membership so I can be recognized as his spouse and receive the benefits of spouse discounts as well as his military discount. The woman then proceeded to tell my husband and I that our marriage was not considered "real" and she could not update the systems to reflect us as married. When I began to ask why she informed me that the Natatorium has rules which state that they follow Ohio regulations and until the State of Ohio recognizes gay marriage then my marriage license means nothing.

Baffled by the situation we came home and attempted to call the mayor's office of the City of Cuyahoga Falls and was told that at this time he was not able to take calls on "those" issues and that if we would like to leave a name and number he could return a phone call at some point. Still disgusted with the whole situation we then proceeded to call the Natatorium itself and speak to a manager or supervisor. After being hung up on four times we were able to reach a supervisor. We explained the situation to her and stated that we felt like we were being treated as a second class citizens. We also told her that my husband fought for our country and has been severely injured in the war. 

She proceeded to tell us that we are more than welcome at the gym and just because we are gay does not mean we cannot come there, we just cannot have a membership as a married couple. Unhappy about the whole situation we told her that if they were unwilling to recognize us like they do every other married couple then we would like to cancel our memberships and find a gym who recognizes our family. She then told us that she would be more than happy to help us with cancelling our membership. All we needed to do was write a letter and mail it to the City of Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium stating what our issues were and that it would be reviewed. We would then have two options. Pay cancellation fees for both of our memberships or be upgraded to a monthly price which is $45.00 each and then pay whatever the remainder of our term was on each membership.

I am asking you to sign this petition to show the City of Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium that equality should be given to every citizen and that their rules and regulations need to be changed to allow all couples -- regardless of sexual orientation -- to register as a family.

A family comes in all shapes and sizes and the Natatorium, Parks and Recreations, and City Council should not be allowed to discriminate against our family. We ask that you change your current policy regarding who is considered a spouse/family to accept all families regardless of sexual orientation. 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Parks and Rec Board Prepares for Final Call on Natatorium Rate Structure

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      The end is near. In May, the Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board will face arguably its biggest decision in decades when it makes a final ruling on whether or not to change the Natatorium's rate structure. Chairman Tim Gorbach arrived at the next and final step following a report by Parks and Recreation Superintendent Bill Lohan and a public address by Falls City Councilwoman Diana Colavecchio during Thursday’s monthly parks board meeting at the Natatorium.

      Over the next few weeks, Gorbach said the board will "get extremely familiar" with the gym's rate structure, take in what's been said by the public and city officials and make a ruling.

      The next parks board meeting is May 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Natatorium. He encouraged the public to come and weigh in before the board gives its final decision.

    2. Reached 6,000 signatures
    3. POLL: Falls City Council Will Make Final Decision on Natatorium Rate Change

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      The matter of whether or not to change the rate structure was raised by former Cuyahoga Falls resident Shane May when he and his husband, Coty May, were recently told by Natatorium staff that they were not eligible for the w/spouse discount. The couple did not attend the meeting, but Shane May offered comments via email after the decision was made. “I am appalled and ashamed of the three (park board members) who voted against the change, knowing that when given the opportunity to advance the community and show equal treatment towards all citizens, they chose to follow the path of Mayor Robart and oppose equality. I hope that city council does what a progressive forward thinking city government should do," he wrote.

    4. Cuyahoga Falls park board says no to Natatorium rate policy changes

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      The park board voted 3-2 against a motion by chairman Tim Gorbach to change the spousal rate immediately to include all “legally married or domestic partners in a civil union as recognized by any U.S. jurisdiction” , and then to replace that by June 1 with a new “household rate” that would cover myriad traditional and nontraditional families. “The current rate structure is full of exceptions,” Gorbach said. “It has been in place for a long period of time and should be reviewed.” Siding with the majority, however, board member Dick Sebastian said eliminating the rate for married couples would be unpopular. “Biblically speaking, I know a lot of people would be upset if it’s yanked out,’’ he said. The meeting was attended by 18 members of the Broadman Baptist Church, led by Pastor Chris McCombs, who asked that the park board not do anything to recognize gay marriage. “We’ve been sucked into a social agenda here,” he said.

    5. Falls Recreation Board Says No To Family Rate Change

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      Falls Mayor Don Robart did not attend the meeting but when he learned of the ruling, he was pleased with the decision. "I'm glad they did their homework and their research and looked at the bigger picture," he said. Robart explains the financial implications that would hit the city if the family policy was changed Thursday evening. "If we opened up the family discount to non-traditional families we would lose about $50,000," he says. "Obviously that would have to be made up somewhere and we would have to raise the rate for everyone else." Gorbach says he doesn't want the Natatorium and Cuyahoga Falls as a community to be perceived as small-minded when it comes to this hot-button issue. "I'm proud of our park system as a whole and I'm upset we're being viewed by some as exclusive and it's important that we be viewed by the community as inclusive to all types of people and families."

    6. COMMENTARY Robart Responds On Nat Rates

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      Editor's note - AkronNewsNow.com Editor Ed Esposito published a commentary on Thursday "Keeping Your Head Above Water" relating to the membership rate structure at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium. With an opportunity to respond and continue the public discussion on the issue, Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart forwarded his response at our invitation.
      - - -
      "Ed, Sounds like you've drank the ABJ Kool-aid. Let's just ignore the State Constitution like it does not exist. I might remind you & they that this issue was voted on as recently as 2004, so it's not like it's an antiquated thought from the middle ages.

      But, let me go further:"

    7. Falls Parks and Rec tables same-sex issue for now

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      CUYAHOGA FALLS: The question over whether membership rates at the Falls Natatorium will change to include a provision to offer a “spouse” discount to gay couples married in other states won’t be decided for at least another month. The Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board, which sets such rates, did not take up the issue when it met Thursday. Tim Gorbach, chairman of the Park and Recreation Board, said members just received a legal opinion from Paul Janis and need time to review it. He added that parks and recreation superintendent William Lohan is on vacation and should be present when the matter is discussed. The board should be ready to discuss the matter when it meets April 12, Gorbach said. Shane and Coty May of Akron made headlines when in January they tried to purchase a married couple pass for the Falls Natatorium. They were turned down for the discounted rate.

    8. Keeping Your Head Above Water

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      The question officials on the Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board, City Council and the Mayor's Office should be asking isn't whether the state law trumps serving the Natatorium's customers, or if this serves as a referendum on same-sex marriage, or if the Falls is financially immunized against scammers eagerly awaiting the opportunity to sack the Nat. The first question was answered by the Janis legal opinion; both sides say the second question isn't really the issue and the third question is simply answered by calling the people who run recreation centers both near and far to find out how they manage to run their facilities without falling prey to the "massive abuse" Mayor Robart claims might come to pass by updating their membership rate categories.

    9. Falls law director: Natatorium might give discount to married gay couples

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      The Natatorium is not required to offer its “spouse” discount to gay couples married in other states, but there is no law stopping the Parks and Recreation Board from changing the fitness center’s rates to recognize couples in “nontraditional” relationships. That’s the opinion Law Director Paul Janis provided to the City Council on Wednesday in the matter of two men who sparked a controversy last month by seeking to convert their individual memberships into a spousal plan after being legally married in Washington, D.C.

    10. Membership Battle Takes New Turn

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      The battle continues tonight to allow a same sex couple to receive a "spousal" rate at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium. Shane and Coty May, of Akron were legally married in D-C, but Ohio doesn't recognize their marriage. The Cuyahoga Falls law director now says it is his opinion there is no law stopping the parks board from changing the rules. The city's mayor says he doesn't support a change and that he believes the rules have worked just fine the way they are.

    11. Falls Law Director: You Can If You Want

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      But Janis also writes in his opnion that the Parks Board has "broad authority" to alter membership categories "...to provide discounts to same-sex couples or other members in non-traditional or alternative relationships, if it wishes to do so." He also advises that "City Council may, by ordinance, repeal the Board's authority in this regard and establish membership categories for the Natatorium, if it wishes to do so.

    12. Reached 5,000 signatures
    13. Call-In Day to ask the Nat to Recognize All Families!

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      Recent comments have been published from city council president, Mark Ihasz, that the council has been annoyed by emails for the petition on change.org and have begun blocking the petition signatures.

      Well, you can't block a phone call! Please keep letting our voice be heard by calling the mayor's office on January 31, 2012, & asking that the Nat change its family membership policy to welcome same-sex couples. Too scared to call & talk to someone? Call after hours & leave a voicemail!

      Please click on the link below to obtain information regarding this event taking place.

    14. Akron couple petitioning against local natatorium

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      "Shane May, 22, has posted a petition online directed at the City of Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium. His goal? To make it legal for same-sex couples to register for family memberships at the Natatorium, which recently denied Shane and his husband of four months, Coty May, such a membership."

    15. Legal Opinions Sought on Natatorium Membership

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      From the Falls News Press: Ihasz says he received "well over 200 emails" favoring the gay couple's right to a family rate before he was able to block them. Shane May says it is not a matter of whether the law can be changed, but a matter of when. "Other municipalities in our areas have already adopted such policy changes at city-owned fitness centers," May says. "Let's not be an exception which allows discrimination."

    16. Reached 4,000 signatures
    17. ACLU urges change in Cuyahoga Falls natatorium policy

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      The ACLU sent a letter to the City of Cuyahoga Falls to urge them to amend their policy. You can read the entire letter here: http://www.acluohio.org/issues/LGBT/LtrToCuyahogaFallsNatatoriumReFamilyPolicy2012_01120.pdf

    18. Reached 2,500 signatures
    19. Ohio: City Gym Denies Gay Married Couple a Family Discount

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      From the Advocate: A gay couple who applied to a publicly-owned gym in Ohio has filed a complaint after they were denied the ability to apply for memberships at a family discount rate.

    20. Cuyahoga Falls: Gay couple denied family membership at natatorium

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      Shane and his husband Coty were featured on the local news last night. Watch the story here, then sign and share their petition.

    21. Reached 2,000 signatures
    22. Media Attention

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      Looks like we have some media attention now! Finally our voices are heard over the air. Channel 3 did such an amazing job with this story. Keep the support coming and get those signatures going! We are doing it!

    23. Reached 1,500 signatures
    24. NBC-WKYC Channel 3 News Coverage

      Shane May
      Petition Organizer

      Everyone in Northeast Ohio make sure to tune into NBC-WKYC Channel 3 News at 11:00pm Eastern Time and catch an interview that was recently filmed tonight by reporter Jennifer Lindgren. Truly one of the friendliest and passionate reporters I have met. Thank you Jennifer for taking time to cover our story. And thank you to every single one of you who signed the petition. I am truly blessed to know that there are people out there who believe in what is right and equality for all. Let's fill those inboxes!

    25. Gay couple fights to be recognized for family membership at Cuyahoga Falls

      Joe Mirabella
      Petition Organizer

      “We may not have the authority to act on this at all,” said Diana Colavecchio, a council member and attorney. “However, if council does have the authority to set the policy and define what qualifies for a ‘family rate’ at the Natatorium, I would support expanding the definition of ‘family’ to include gay couples married in other states.”

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Kyler Donlan HARWICH, MA
      • about 2 years ago

      Allow them to become a family.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Sarah Donley EUCLID, OH
      • about 2 years ago

      ♂ + ♂ = ♥

      ♀ + ♀ = ♥

      ♀ + ♂ = ♥

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Susanna Galetsas COLOGNE, GERMANY
      • about 2 years ago

      It is not this special case that bothers me. My wish is that people all over the world can love whom they want including the right to marry. Love is not a matter of gender it is a matter of the heart. Why is this thread still here?

      IN WHICH CENTURY DO WE LIVE?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Karmen Garrett CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH
      • over 2 years ago

      I used to live very close to this natatorium and my family considered joining until we found out about their discriminatory practices. Good for you for taking this important stand!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • A L SYRACUSE, NY
      • over 2 years ago

      As a US Army veteran I am outraged! A veteran who was willing to risk all and who did indeed suffer injury in the service of our country has returned home to be treated as a second class citizen. This discrimination must not be allowed to stand.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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