Lesbian couple to appeal decision in health club discrimination case

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Amy and Sarah Monson are not backing down from their assertion that a failure to grant the couple a family membership at the Rochester Athletic Club is discrimination. On Dec. 31st, the couple filed papers with the Olmsted County District Court to start the appeal of a November lower court decision that found the policies of the fitness club legal under Minnesota law.

The Monsons, a lesbian couple raising a daughter in Rochester, Minn., were denied family membership since they are not legally married in Minnesota. While they hold a Canadian marriage certificate, Minnesota law doesn’t give them that ability. They sued the health club under Minnesota’s Human Rights Act which outlaws discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in housing, accommodations and employment.

In November, Olmsted County Judge Kevin Lund found for the health club but also issued a scathing rebuke of its policies.

A heated comments section at the Rochester Post-Bulletin demonstrates widely disparate views on the merits of the appeal.

One unmarried man, along with several other commenters, took issue with the lawsuit and the responses are indicative of the balance of rights the case presents.

“OMG people give it up, if my girlfriend and I with 3 kids (2 hers and 1 mine) cannot get a family membership because we are not married why should two unmarried lesbians??? The judge was right to dismiss the case and the attorney is wrong for taking their money and wasting the courts time!”

Another commenter responded, “Cuz u can go today and get a marriage license and get the family membership rates, and their family can never get the family membership rates. The RAC needs to get into the 21st century and treat all families equally and with respect. If Rochester’s northgate health club, Family Y, and Mayo’s healthy living center can do it, so can the RAC.”

Indeed, that is the crux of the argument. Even Judge Lund, who rejected the Monson’s argument, noted the harsh nature of the policy and the laws. Calling it “anachronistic,” he called the health club’s policy an “unrealistically narrow definition of family” that “fails to recognize the underlying stability and commitment of the Monsons’ relationship,” a relationship that he said functions “as a loving family unit and would otherwise be married or have entered into a permissible legal domestic partnership if allowed by our Legislature.”

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