Who denies a 2-year-old access to a pool on a hot day?
Apparently, Carilion Clinic does. On May 15, Will Trinkle, a real estate agent in Roanoke, Virginia, applied for membership at the Roanoke Athletic Club, a gym that is owned by the regional medical provider Carilion Clinic. He and his partner Juan Granados wanted to take their 2-yeard-old son Oliver Trinkle-Granados to the gym's outdoor pool during the summer months.
Only children on family memberships are allowed to use the pool, so Trinkle signed up for a family plan. His application was accepted and processed, clearly listing him, his same sex partner, and their child as members.
Nine days later, a representative from the gym contacted Trinkle and told him that his application was processed by mistake. According to Trinkle, the representative said that the company was "‘tightening policies’ so no families like us would ever ‘get as far’ as we had.” The representative went on to claim that Roanoke Athletic Club is following Virginia state law, which does not recognize same sex marriage.
"We were really surprised. It's like someone punched us in the stomach," Trinkle says, "We couldn't imagine this kind of discrimination."
The fact that a couple isn't legally wed is hardly a defense for treating them as second class citizens. 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. All of them deserve to be recognized as families by local businesses.
This is especially true when that business is a healthcare provider that serves nearly 1 million people. In addition to the Roanoke Athletic Club, Carilion Clinic operates seven hospitals in Southwest Virginia, more than 150 other medical practice sites, and a new, high-profile medical school that it recently launched in partnership with Virginia Tech.
If Carilion won't give unmarried couples access to a pool, how will it treat them at a hospital?
This is a critical question for those who live in Southwest Virginia. With allies from across the country and around the world, we call on Carilion Clinic to...
- Treat all families--married and unmarried, same sex and opposite sex--with true impartiality and respect and
- Extend the full benefits of family membership at the Roanoke Athletic Club to Trinkle's family and all other unmarried couples who live together.
Anything less undercuts the faith of its customers. It is time for Carilion to step up, admit this family into its pool, and demonstrate that the company can provide quality, impartial services to everyone in the region.
We won! I'm pleased to announce that Carilion Clinic has amended criteria for family membership at its gyms. The policy is now inclusive of unmarried couples who live together, regardless of gender. You can read the company's statement, which was originally posted on its Facebook page here...
I applaud Carillion Clinic for moving so quickly and for responding to the outpouring of support for Will Trinkle, Juan Granados, and their two-year-old son Oliver Trinkle-Granados.
I also want to thank everyone who signed this petition. You hailed from all over-Roanoke to Rome-and you delivered a clear message that there is no room for this kind of discrimination in the world.
Congratulations to Will, Juan, Oliver, and all of you!
Mark Lynn Ferguson started this petition with a single signature, and won with 206,360 supporters. Start a petition to change something you care about.