Ohio Lesbian Couple Challenges City's Definition of Family
A same-sex couple in Ohio is hoping to turn an instance of possible discrimination into an opportunity to update the city's policies to be more inclusive of all families.
Galion, Ohio, residents Melody Mohn and Hela Young have four young children, who make a summer habit of going to the local public pool, which is operated by the YMCA at Galion's Heise Park. Mohn usually buys a summer-long pass so she can appease her children's wishes of going to the pool "almost every day," she tells Columbus's WCMH TV.
But this year Mohn wanted to include Young, her same-sex partner, on the family pool pass, which offers a discounted rate. Without the pass, Mohn would be spending $16 each day to take her kids to the pool, reports WCMH.
So Mohn contacted the YMCA, which runs the public pool, and was informed that a city ordinance defines a family as consisting of a mother and father.
"I told him, 'You know I'm in a same-sex relationship, so where does that leave me?'" Mohn recounted to WCMH. "He was well-versed. He said, 'You know, I'm sorry, but it stipulates here, mother, father.' So I'm assuming they may have had other issues along the line."
Mohn took the issue up with the Galion City Council, but one member told WCMH the council members were unaware that the family-defining ordinance even existed.
"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," Sarah Capretta, of the council's Parks and Recreation Committee, told WCMH.
Capretta and her fellow councilmembers agreed that the ordinance is outdated and needs to be revised to be reflective of today's diverse family structures.
"We certainly don't want to do anything to prevent children and parents to go swimming in our pool," Carl Watt, Galion City Council president told WCMH. "I mean, 20 years ago, it probably fit the scene, but not today. Not today's lifestyle."
The city's Parks and Recreation Committee will debate revised language in its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, and the City Council will finalize that language at a meeting July 22. WCMH reports that the council plans to consider new language that more broadly defines a family, perhaps referring to a household, adults, or just simply "family."
Mohn says the changes likely won't come soon enough to make a difference for her family this summer, since the pool closes in August. Nevertheless, she's glad she spoke up.
"We're not the only same-sex couple, and we're not the only nontraditional family either," Mohn told WCMH. "So if it does something for them as well, that's good."
Watch WCMH's report below.