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Atlanta mayor fines golf club for refusing to obey domestic partners rule

Big cheers to Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. She is stepping up to the plate and enforcing the city’s human rights ordinance. A local country club is denying spousal benefits to gay partners that are legally registered with the city as domestic partners, and thus covered under the ordinance. Of course, you know she is getting flack; this is the first time it is being enforced. (AP via Macon Telegraph):

The case centers on two gay club members, Randy New and Lee Kyser, who want full spousal benefits for their partners, including golfing privileges and the right to visit the club whether the members are present or not.

They also are seeking the right to transfer membership rights to a partner if a gay club member dies. Currently, the club grants such privileges only to people who are married.

Franklin wrote to club president Kent Smith on Dec. 22 that she is ordering the city solicitor to fine the club $500 a day, up to 180 days, for a total of $90,000 unless the club changes its benefits policy.

Atlanta has a very proud history of promoting and celebrating diversity,” Franklin wrote in her letter. “Given the club’s failure to address the issues internally, I am compelled to act.”

The mayor and Smith could not immediately be reached for comment.

The club’s board responded with an e-mail to its 1,100 members saying they would fight the fine because Franklin has no jurisdiction to impose the penalty and that the city’s ordinance attempting “to dictate the Club’s membership policies are invalid.”

“Our policies are non-discriminatory,” the e-mail stated. “While we regret this matter has still not been resolved, Druid Hills Golf Club is prepared to defend its position.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding