Is Gold’s Gym the next Chick-fil-A?

Robert Rowling

OK, maybe not quite, but a Gold’s Gym franchisee who owns four locations in the Bay Area did just cut ties with the chain over CEO Robert Rowling’s donations to the conservative group American Crossroads. From CBS San Francisco:

The group, founded by former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former George W. Bush senior adviser Karl Rove, supported anti-gay candidates in the congressional midterm elections, prompting Bay Area owners to vow an end of their association with the chain once the existing contract ran out.

The contract has expired, and the four former Bay Area Gold’s locations now exist under the name Fitness SF.

Gold’s Gyms have been fixtures in the Bay Area for 22 years, with the bulk of the clientele members of the LGBT community.

“Very rarely in a situation like this does a business stand up and actually take a position on the matter, which is why I think people have been so happy that we’ve taken this course of action,” Don Dickerson, Director of Operations for Gold’s Gym Bay Area said in October of 2010.

In contrast to Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, Rowling went on record two years ago saying his donation of $2 million to American Crossroads was motivated by a desire for “fiscal sanity,” not anti-gay positions.

Rowling heads TRT Holdings, which in addition to Gold’s Gym owns Omni Hotels, one of the few lodging chains that doesn’t offer health benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian employees.

The kicker, of course, is that Rowling lives in Highland Park, and TRT Holdings is moving its headquarters to Oak Lawn.

—  John Wright