Will Trinkle and Juan Granados recently applied for a family membership at the Roanoke Athletic Club in Virginia. They listed themselves as same-sex partners with a 2-year-old son named Oliver.
The application was approved but nine days later, the couple were called by a club employee who told them a mistake had been made and their membership was being revoked. They say they were told the state of Virginia does not consider them to be a real family.
The couple, who have been together for eight years, are now suing the club. They argue that the revocation was a breach of contract and is in violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.
'Actually it was like someone punched us in the stomach,' Trinkle said in a television interview. 'It's from a place we couldn't imagine that there would be this kind of discrimination and this kind of attack.'
The Roanoke Athletic Club, is owned by the Carilion Clinic, has not commented on the pending litigation.
Roanoke resident Mark Lynn Ferguson is so incensed by what happened to the family that he had launched a petition on Change.org which so far has garnered more than 27,000 signatures.
Among those who have signed is Tish Thompson, a former resident of Roanoke.
'I am appalled at the level of discrimination that continues in the valley,' she wrote in the comments section. 'In this day and age, no one should be turned because of their skin color, ethnicity, age, gender, political position, religious beliefs, or their sexuality. The 1950s are long over, and it is time to face and move towards the new millennium.'
The petition points out that 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.
It asks: 'If Carilion won't give unmarried couples access to a pool, how will it treat them at a hospital?'