YMCA changes policy to allow gay couples to pay same rate as other families

BY admin

October 21 2004 12:00 AM ET

The YMCA of the Triangle Area of Durham, N.C., will charge gay couples with children the same membership fees as straight families but won't call them "families" under a policy that covers a range of household types.

Grandparents with dependent grandchildren, couples with foster children, and children living with adults who are their legal guardians will also benefit from the new policy, said the Y's chief executive officer, Doug McMillan. In the case of a gay or unmarried couple with children, the change would allow one adult with dependent children to enroll in one category and the second adult to enroll separately, he said. The two membership fees are equal to or less than the fee paid by a husband and wife with children. "Change is hard," McMillan said. "We wanted to be fair and equitable to everybody. The structure we had left the staff making several exceptions."

Teresa Sakash, a member of YMCA for All, a local group that lobbied the YMCA to charge all families the same membership rates, called the decision "a victory with an asterisk." "It's an imperfect solution from my end," said Sakash, who is a Duke University law student. "I'm of the mind-set that progress is incremental. Any forward movement is positive movement."

The new policy affects all Triangle Area YMCA chapters but has been implemented so far only in Durham, McMillan said. The old policy charged gay couples at the Durham YMCA $22 more per month than married couples and drew criticism from some Durham city council members and Duke University officials. In August, Duke ended an agreement to promote the YMCA in its employee literature in exchange for Duke employees receiving discounted memberships.

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