By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com September 21 2012 3:00 PM ET
Four San Francisco area Gold’s Gym franchises have officially broken ties with its parent company after its CEO donated money to American Crossroads, an organization founded by Karl Rove and other top Republican officials that support antigay politicians.
Owners of the franchises had initially vowed to sever connections in 2010, when Robert Rowling, CEO of TRT Holdings, made the $2 million contribution. On September 15, their contracts with the parent company expired, allowing them to operate independently.
“Very rarely in a situation like this does a business stand up and actually take a position on the matter,” said Don Dickerson, director of pperations for Gold’s Gym Bay Area, to CBS, “which is why I think people have been so happy that we’ve taken this course of action.”
The franchises, which are located in San Francisco, Oakland, and Marin, will now function under the brand Fitness SF.
In response to the 2010 backlash, Gold’s Gym International issued a statement to The Huffington Post that distanced itself from its CEO:
“Gold’s Gym did not make a donation to American Crossroads (or any other political organization) and in no way supports antigay causes. Quite the contrary, the Gold’s Gym family has been strong supporters of the LGBT community over the years."
“We hope that our friends and long time members of the LBGT community understand that our sole purpose as an organization is to help people reach their fitness goals.”
The billionaire defended his donation to Fox News, stating that he supported American Crossroads for financial, not social, reasons.
"I've never heard one discussion of a social issue,” he said. “This is all about fiscal sanity.”
A Change.org petition calls him out for indirectly supporting two politicians in particular: "These politicians include Nevada's Sharron Angle, who once said that gay people should be banned from adopting children and that homosexuality would lead to the downfall of the United States, and Roy Blunt, who wants to rewrite the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage."