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Atlanta drops bid
to fine golf club for discrimination

Atlanta drops bid
to fine golf club for discrimination

Lawyers for the city of Atlanta have agreed in court to stop an effort to fine Druid Hills Golf Club for not treating partners of gay members the same as spouses of married members. In papers filed in Fulton County superior court, city lawyers agreed not to "enforce, attempt to enforce, or threaten to enforce" the city's human rights ordinance against the club. The city had little choice after the state legislature outlawed its ordinance protecting the rights of gays and other minorities in private clubs. In January 2004, the city's human relations commission found that the 1,100-member club was discriminating against gays under the city ordinance, passed in 2000. Under the ordinance, the mayor can fine any institution or business found by the commission to be discriminating against gays. The complaint was brought by two gay club members, Lee Kyser and Randy New, who sought spousal benefits for their partners. Benefits include being able to visit the club without the member present and to pass on membership to a partner if the member dies. The club refused, arguing it granted such privileges only to married members. Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin later sent notice asking the city solicitor to fine the club. But the club sued, arguing that the human rights ordinance was unenforceable and unconstitutional. In the midst of the dispute, the Georgia legislature passed a law forbidding the city from enforcing the human rights ordinance, which includes gay rights, against private clubs. Officials of Druid Hills Golf Club did not return calls from TheAtlanta Journal-Constitution. Kyser said city officials never called her or New to let them know they were agreeing not to enforce the ordinance. She said the agreement means gay rights activists are going to have to find other ways to pressure Druid Hills and other clubs to provide full spousal benefits to partners of gay members. "At this point in time, there is nowhere to go with it legally," she said. "But it is not a dead issue." (AP)

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