City releases file from complaint against Baylor for anti-gay discrimination

Baylor

Alan Rodriguez, right, filed a complaint with the city in February 2011 after the Tom Landry Fitness Center refused to issue him and his partner a family membership. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Dallas city attorney’s office has released most of its records related to a complaint against Baylor’s Tom Landry Fitness Center filed under the city’s sexual orientation nondiscrimination ordinance.

After few answers from the city attorney’s office about why we weren’t permitted to view the file a few weeks ago, we were told earlier this week we could view the file, except for some communications that were considered protected by attorney-client privilege. The city has asked the Texas attorney general’s office to review that information and render an opinion about whether it should be released.

In October, the city attorney’s office said the case was closed after officials with Baylor Health Care System agreed to end all family memberships. Alan Rodriguez and his longtime partner were denied a family membership discount in February 2011 because they are a same-sex couple, and they filed a complaint under the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations.

The city attorney’s office closed the case in exchange for Baylor’s commitment to end all family memberships. But a timeline of when discussions about ending the memberships took place wasn’t provided, nor was it contained in the file we reviewed today.

According to the file, Baylor’s representatives continued to request that the case be dismissed on the grounds that Tom Landry is a private club and a religious organization — and that Baylor recognizes married couples as outlined by Texas law. The case was sent to the city attorney in mid-June 2011, and the last date on on a request for information from the city attorney’s office is Oct. 19, 2011.

The final investigative report was completed Nov. 3, 2011, and mentioned that Baylor would have to prove a specific membership to be considered a religious organization, and that the ordinance doesn’t protect private clubs, only religious and government entities.

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas gym won't allow family membership for gay couple that's been together 23 years

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A gay Dallas man claims the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center refused to allow him to add his longtime partner to his gym membership, a possible violation of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

Steven Johnson said he’s been with his partner, Roland Crago, for 23 years. Johnson, who works in advertising at The Dallas Morning News, said he tried to add Crago to his gym membership after Crago recently got a job downtown. Now Johnson is calling on the LGBT community to boycott the gym at 411 N. Washington St. in Dallas, which is owned by Baylor University Medical Center.

“I have been going there for the last eight months,” Johnson said Tuesday. “Today I tried to add Roland to my membership — only to learn that they do not accept domestic partners as part of their benefits. I have had numerous health clubs … and all of them have accepted us as family members. So add Tom Landry Fitness Center to your list with Exxon and all the other companies we can not support with our dollars.”

Johnson said gyms where he and Crago have had family memberships in the past include LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness.

Phil Tyne, director of the Tom Landry Fitness Center, said he would look into the matter but seemed to confirm Johnson’s statements.

“We can’t put him on as a spouse if they’re not a married couple,” Tyne said.

Asked whether a same-sex partner could be added as a general family member, Tyne said, “I don’t’ think so.”

Beverly Davis, director of Dallas’ Fair Housing Office, said she’s unsure whether such a policy violates the nondiscrimination ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations.

But Davis, who oversees the office that investigates complaints under the ordinance, added that she was surprised that a gym in Dallas wouldn’t allow domestic partner memberships.

“It is so common these days to have different family arrangements,” Davis said. “It would seem to me that most people who are in that business ought to be accustomed to that by now, and would easily make an accommodation to recognize that you have all different kinds of families now.”

Johnson said even though he canceled his membership, he’ll have to continue paying for it until September. He said he planned to contact the Fair Housing Office to file a complaint against the gym.

—  John Wright